Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are fundamental to all modern electronics, forming the structural backbone and connectivity platform for components in everything from mobile devices to industrial automation. The global PCB market size reflects the broad proliferation of electronics across industries and applications. In recent years, the PCB market has experienced significant growth driving by emerging technologies like 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), electric vehicles (EVs), and renewable energy.
This article will analyze the current situation, trends, and future outlook of the global PCB market. Key aspects covered include:
- Review of PCB market size and historical growth
- Segmentation by PCB type and regional markets
- Market share distribution among major PCB manufacturers
- Drivers and challenges impacting PCB market growth
- Impact of emerging technologies on PCB demand
- Supplier landscape and industry competitiveness
- Future market projections and growth opportunities
By exploring both quantitative market data and industry developments shaping PCB supply and demand, we can understand the current dynamics and trajectory of the worldwide PCB market.
Global PCB Market Size
The global printed circuit board market has demonstrated consistent growth over the past decade, rising from a value of $47.4 billion in 2011 to $77.7 billion in 2021. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% over the past 10 years.
Several driving factors underpin this steady expansion of the worldwide PCB market:
- Ongoing miniaturization and complexity of electronics requiring multi-layer PCBs
- Proliferation of electronics into new application areas and products
- Rising internet connectivity and need for greater bandwidth speeds
- Growth in consumer electronics, automobile electronics, industrial automation, and telecommunications involving PCBs
- Expanding utilization of electronics components requiring interconnection by PCBs
These dynamics point to a healthy growing demand for PCBs as digital transformation continues across industries. The global PCB market is forecast to be worth $107 billion by 2026, growing at a 6.4% CAGR from 2021-2026.
PCB Market Segmentation
The PCB market can be segmented in various ways, such as:
By Type of PCB
- Multi-layer (4-layer, 6-layer, 8-layer and above)
- HDI (High Density Interconnect)
- Flexible circuits
Multi-layer PCBs command the largest share (over 50%) of the PCB market currently. Growth in HDI and flexible PCBs is outpacing the overall industry average.
By End-use Industry
- Consumer Electronics (mobile phones, tablets, wearables)
- Automotive (engine control units, infotainment, ADAS)
- Industrial (industrial automation and control)
- Telecom Infrastructure (5G networks, base stations)
- Aerospace and Defense (avionics, guidance systems)
- Medical Electronics (patient monitoring, medical imaging)
- Computing (PCs, data centers, embedded computing)
Consumer electronics holds the biggest portion of the market (over 30%), while automotive, telecom infrastructure, and industrial electronics are also major segments driving PCB demand.
By Regional Market
- Other Asia Pacific (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia)
- North America (United States, Canada, Mexico)
- Europe (Germany, France, UK, Italy, Rest of Europe)
- Rest of World
China currently represents over 50% of global PCB production. The broader APAC region accounts for around 75% of total PCB market value.
Top PCB Manufacturers
The PCB manufacturing landscape is dominated by Asian players, in particular Chinese companies. The top 10 PCB manufacturers globally based on estimated PCB revenue in 2021 are:
|Company||Country||Estimated 2021 PCB Revenue (US$ billion)|
|Zhen Ding Tech||China||7.9|
|TTM Technologies||United States||5.0|
|AT&S Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik||Austria||4.3|
|Unitech Printed Circuit Board||Taiwan||4.2|
The top 10 PCB manufacturers represent around 57% of the total global PCB market share, indicating a fragmented and competitive industry landscape.
Key Market Drivers
There are several key factors propelling demand and sales in the worldwide PCB market currently and over the next 5 years:
- The rollout of 5G wireless networks requires a major buildout of cellular infrastructure and wireless hardware that runs on PCBs. 5G is estimated to represent a $3 billion PCB market by 2025.
Internet of Things (IoT)
- Connecting appliances, machines, and devices via the IoT multiplies the need for PCBs to power edge nodes and gateways. The IoT PCB market is projected to reach $17 billion by 2027.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
- EVs contain far more electronics for traction, battery management, power control, autonomous features, and displays compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. The EV PCB market could expand to $24 billion by 2030.
Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS)
- ADAS capabilities like collision avoidance and self-parking rely on a suite of cameras, radar, lidar, and ultrasonic sensors, enabled by complex, high-density PCBs. The ADAS PCB market alone could be worth $2.4 billion by 2025.
- PCBs are vital components of solar photovoltaic systems and wind turbine generators used for renewable electricity production. Renewables are driving PCB market growth.
Defense and Aerospace
- Modern aircraft, missiles, satellites, and communications systems require specialized, high-performance, and high-reliability PCB technologies that command higher ASPs (average selling prices).
- PCB demand arises from advanced medical devices for diagnostics, therapy, implanted devices, and remote patient monitoring. This is a niche but fast-growing PCB market.
- Growing numbers of data centers with high-performance servers and switches for cloud computing generate substantial PCB consumption. Hyperscale data centers especially drive leading-edge PCBs.
Key Market Challenges
While the global PCB market outlook remains positive, there are risks and headwinds impacting supply and demand:
- Component Shortages – Limited semiconductor and passive component availability throttles end-product manufacturing which dampens PCB orders. Shortages plagued 2021 sales.
- Changing Consumer Demand – Fickle consumer preferences lead to fluctuating electronics sales, causing a whiplash effect on related PCB demand.
- Smartphone Saturation – Worldwide smartphone unit sales have stagnated, leading to maturity in what was once a high-growth PCB application.
- Cyclical Downturns – Upstream electronic manufacturing fluctuates cyclically, especially impacting PCB demand in computing, automotive, industrial markets.
- Geopolitical Tensions – Political conflicts threatening the global supply chain could disrupt raw material supplies key for PCB production.
- Inflation – Rising materials, labor, logistics, and energy costs compress margins along the PCB supply chain. Inflation escalated in 2022.
- Exchange Rates – Currency fluctuations between global PCB suppliers and customers create instability in supply contracts and pricing.
PCB Technologies Driving Growth
Advancements in PCB materials, manufacturing capabilities, and design innovations for specialized applications are enabling new market opportunities:
- High-Density Interconnect (HDI) – Denser routing, smaller vias and higher connection densities help shrink products like tablets and smartphones. HDI PCBs achieve over 20% annual growth.
- Rigid-Flex Boards – Combining flexible circuits and rigid sections in one PCB allows three-dimensional stacking and folding within devices. The rigid-flex PCB market could reach $3.49 billion by 2027.
- Stretchable Circuits – Novel conductive materials and fabrication methods now allow developing flexible wearable devices wrapped around human limbs and bodies.
- LTCC (Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramic) – Highly heat resistant ceramic PCBs withstand aggressive environments in defense, aerospace, and automotive systems.
- Metal Core Boards – Insulated metal substrate (IMS) PCBs with dielectric like polyimide on aluminum or copper cores efficiently manage waste heat from high-power components.
- Embedded Passives – Techniques like buried capacitance materials within the PCB allow passives to be integrated more efficiently versus surface-mount.
- Additive Printing – Additive manufacturing via inkjet or aerosol jet printing allows simplified rapid PCB prototyping and customization in R&D.
Regional Production Trends
China has dominated PCB manufacturing for over a decade, but the supply base is diversifying:
- Chinese PCB output has grown 15% CAGR over the past 5 years, concentrated in lower-tier volume boards.
- Other Asian countries are expanding higher-complexity PCB production. Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia offer cheaper labor than China.
- North America PCB production is limited but focused on quick-turn prototyping, defense, and other specialty boards.
- Europe continues to lose market share, but retains expertise in niche industrial and medical PCBs.
These trends are leading multinational OEMs to diversify sourcing from alternative locations while using China for cost-driven volume production.
PCB Industry Competitiveness
PCB manufacturing is capital intensive but faces minimal barriers to entry, leading to intense competition:
- Hundreds of board shops worldwide target overlapping market segments, competing fiercely on cost.
- Larger PCB companies benefit from economies of scale in procurement, production, and marketing.
- Niche “boutique” fabricators differentiate by focusing on rapid prototyping, small orders, or advanced technologies.
- Successful PCB firms invest in R&D, quality systems, and employee expertise.
- Supply chain management and global logistics expertise is vital to contain costs and provide agile delivery.
These factors force PCB manufacturers to run very lean operations. Margins remain thin, at 10-15% EBITDA on average. But reliability, new technology integration, and customer service are differentiators.
Future PCB Market Outlook
Multiple forecasts predict robust continued expansion of the global PCB market through 2026 and beyond, led by key end-use industries:
|Segment||Estimated CAGR 2022-2027|
|Aerospace and Defense||5.1%|
|Total PCB Market||6.2%|
Growing PCB revenues will be driven by surging demand linked to technology trends, including:
- Electric and autonomous vehicles
- 5G infrastructure
- AI and machine learning
- Drone and UAV electronics
- Renewable energy systems
- IoT endpoints
- ADAS capabilities
- Cloud computing infrastructure
- Wearable devices
At the same time, innovations in PCB materials, fabrication methods, assembly integration, thermal management, and design tools will enable electronics manufacturers to integrate more functionality into smaller and more demanding product form factors across these growth markets.
PCB Market Challenges Ahead
While the overall industry outlook is positive, PCB manufacturers will continue facing challenges:
- Maintaining profitability amid volatile materials pricing and labor cost inflation
- Capturing growth from new technologies and faster-changing customer requirements
- Tighter technical specifications requiring investment in new capabilities
- Differentiation within highly fragmented competitive landscape
- Supply chain logistics and inventory management with fluctuating demand
- Geopolitical, trade and cybersecurity risks disrupting globalized PCB supply networks
- Sustainability concerns around energy, emissions, and materials origins
Agile, resilient, and innovative PCB companies will be best positioned to thrive in the current dynamic market environment.
The global PCB market looks set for healthy expansion through the remainder of the decade, driven by growth in end-use electronics industries, technological PCB innovations, and emerging applications like EVs and IoT. While facing inflationary pressures and other headwinds, leading PCB manufacturers worldwide continue investing to capture demand linked to new electronics needed for communications, transportation, industrial automation, defense, medical, and consumer technology. The industry outlook remains bright for this foundational platform that enables modern electronic systems and devices.
PCB Market FAQs
What is the current size of the global PCB market?
The global PCB market was valued at approximately $77.7 billion in 2021 and has been growing at 5-6% CAGR over the past decade, driven by durable demand for electronics across end-use industries.
Which country has the largest share of PCB production?
China has the highest global share of PCB production at over 50% of total output. The broader Asia-Pacific region accounts for around 75% of global PCB manufacturing currently.
What are the fastest growing PCB market segments?
Some of the fastest growth is occurring in high-density interconnect (HDI) PCBs and flexible PCBs, which are expanding at over 15% annually, 2-3x faster than the overall PCB market.
What technologies are driving the most PCB demand?
Top drivers currently are 5G communications infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT), electric vehicles (EVs), advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and renewable energy electronics.
What are key challenges facing PCB manufacturers?
Key challenges include rising materials costs, skilled labor shortages, increased technical specifications from customers, fluctuating end-market demand, and supply chain disruptions from logistics delays or geopolitical issues affecting access to raw materials.