Copper foil and copper; Aluminum; Epoxy resin; Glass fiber;Supply chain logistics; All these five factors affect the rise price of copper clad sheet and FR4 semi-cured sheet.
In 2020, the world faces many challenges due to the Covid-19 epidemic. In 2021, another set of challenges is rapidly becoming a focus for PCB manufacturers and their supply bases in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.
Increased demand, unreleased capacity and industrial safety accidents are all putting pressure on longer lead times, reduced availability and higher prices for key raw materials of FR4 semi-cured sheet. These factors will have a long-term, medium-term and short-term combined impact on the price of copper clad plates. Pressure is now clearly building and copper foil prices will continue to rise in early 2021.
Copper foil and copper
After blockades in many countries, pent-up demand began to outpace production capacity, leading to increased demand for copper foil for PCB and battery production for mobile electronics, leading to higher prices. Longer lead times have also led to higher prices, especially as thick copper foil (2 oz /70 micron +) shifts to lithium-ion battery production.
The Wall Street bank said it expects average prices to continue to rise in 2021 and 2022, with copper prices averaging around $8,625 in 2021 and climbing to $9,175 in 2022.
Demand for aluminum in insulating metal substrates (IMS) and metal-supported printed circuit boards (MPCB) continues to be driven by thermal management solutions for high-power LED general purpose and automotive lighting applications, power conversion applications related to electric vehicle charging infrastructure and green energy generation, as well as competitive industrial and consumer applications. As demand accelerated, prices began to rise higher after the blockade in the late period of the outbreak than in the early period, putting price pressure on the supply chain.
China's high demand for epoxy resin used in green energy applications (wind turbine blades), coupled with recent industrial accidents at large resin manufacturing plants in China and South Korea, has resulted in supply shortages for CCL manufacturers in the past two months and a sharp price increase (up to 60 per cent). The impact is mainly reflected in the cost increase of standard FR-4 fiberglass (130 ° C-135 ° C TG) laminated sheet and semi-cured sheets. Factory shipment prices have increased by 15%-20% in December 2020.
High growth in consumption and green energy applications has also pushed up the price of glass yarn and glass fabric, especially with heavy fabrics such as Type 7628 and Type 2116 restricting supply. Fiberglass manufacturers tend to demand materials with lower quality requirements and higher market prices than those required by the PCB industry. Copper clad sheet manufacturers expect this trend to lead to a shortage of laminated sheet, especially rigid materials.
Supply chain logistics
Demand rebounded in the latter stages of the outbreak, but supply chain logistics are another cause for concern. There will be significant capacity constraints for both sea and air.
For sea transport, demand is high due to the post-outbreak rebound in demand, leading to two major problems: a shortage of dry cargo containers and refrigerated containers, and a wide difference in prices for sea routes from Asia to Europe, the UK and Asia to the United States.
Suppliers who own and control a complete end-to-end supply chain of PCB materials, including laminated sheet and FR4/G10/G11 semi-cured sheets, have a distinct advantage today than ever before. Careful management of stock around the world ensures flexibility to adapt to such contingencies beyond normal control, such as outbreaks or industrial accidents.
Building a supply chain that can address the industry's shared challenges -- the challenges it can control and the challenges it can't -- ultimately depends on the quality of the dialogue between suppliers and customers. The closer, stronger, and lasting relationships we work together to build that benefit all involved, the more we will be able to overcome challenging and difficult times together.