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Printed Wiring Board Industry: Facility Characterization

2.1 General

Facility characterization data were collected that provide a useful comparison among survey respondents and also serve as a means of relating the respondents as a group to the overall PWB industry population. These data, which include measures of facility size and production capabilities and methods, are presented and discussed in this section.

2.2 Comparison of Facility Sizes

Several measures of facility size were employed to help characterize the respondents and compare them to the overall PWB industry sector, including: annual sales in dollars, square footage of manufacturing facility, number of employees, and PWB production rate measured in square footage. These data are presented in Exhibit 2-1.

Respondent
ID
Annual Sales
($/yr)
Facility
Size (ft2)
Employees Production
(board ft2/yr)
6710 nr nr 51 15,000
29710 nr nr 500 57,000
33089 $1,500,000 15,000 30 200,000
947745 2,000,000 9,000 28 40,000
279 2,500,000 15,000 40 250,000
32482 2,800,000 26,500 35 75,000
36930A 3,000,000 18,000 38 nr
44657 3,038,042 22,000 40 42,358
37817 3,600,000 14,000 45 540,000
25503 4,000,000 25,000 40 90,000
502100 4,500,000 37,000 65 60,000
T3 6,000,000 24,000 50 200,000
965874 6,000,000 38,000 105 175,000
273701 7,000,000 22,500 80 280,000
959951 7,000,000 54,000 85 320,000
3470 7,500,000 30,000 100 240,000
953880 9,000,000 30,000 100 180,000
41739 9,000,000 31,800 130 300,000
43841 11,000,000 56,000 115 250,000
44486 14,000,000 36,000 150 nr
42692 15,000,000 50,000 150 360,000
T2 16,000,000 30,000 175 600,000
955703 16,000,000 112,500 150 nr
955099 16,000,000 100,000 250 nr
36930 17,000,000 nr 200 96,000
358000 18,000,000 36,000 nr 500,000
462800 20,000,000 55,000 210 3,750,000
237900 22,000,000 300,000 178 273,000
43694 24,000,000 42,000 450 500,000
133000 36,000,000 125,000 366 600,000
42751 40,000,000 50,000 380 540,000
31838 45,000,000 300,000 480 3,000,000
107300 50,000,000 200,000 350 5,000,000
55595 50,000,000 109,000 420 nr
T1 51,000,000 70,000 550 936,000
946587 84,000,000 120,000 500 1,900,000
740500 100,000,000 600,000 1,000 1,800,000
3023 105,000,000 190,000 830 2,300,000
mean $23,012,168 85,523 223 771,799
median $14,500,000 38,000 150 290,000

nr = no response

Exhibit 2-1. Facility Characterization Data

In terms of dollar sales, the survey results indicate that the respondents span the range of facilities found in this industry sector, but are more representative of the mid- to larger-sized facilities. Below is a comparison of data from the survey and from a recent IPC industry profile report (ref. 2).

Sales
Volume $/yr
% of Companies IPC
Industry Profile Report
% of Companies PWB
Industry Survey Results
Under $5 million 75% 26%
$5 to $10 million 13% 18%
$10 to $20 million 6% 24%
$20 to $50 million 4% 18%
Over $50 million 2% 11%

Other measures of facility size show similar variation among survey respondents. The square footage of manufacturing facilities ranged in size from 9,000 ft2 to 600,000 ft2, with a median value of 38,000 ft2 and a mean value of 85,230 ft2. The number of employees ranged from 28 to 1,000 people with median and mean values of 150 and 223 people. In terms of square footage of PWB production, responses ranged from 15,000 to 5,000,000 board ft2 per year, which included single- and double-sided PWBs as well as multi-layer PWBs. Relationships between board production volumes and dollar sales are presented in the IPC industry profile report (ref. 2).

2.3 General Process Information

The survey collected data for numerous process related topics. Some of the general process characterization data are discussed in this section.

Printed wiring board production may be categorized is several ways. Layer count is a common method of categorization because it relates to overall technology level (i.e., higher layer counts require more sophisticated technology). Board price is also related to layer count. The average cost for a single-sided board is $0.58, while the average cost for a multi-layer board is about $22 (ref. 2). Among respondents, the most commonly produced board is the double-sided board (see Exhibit 2-2 and Exhibit 2-3. Ninety percent of the respondents reported producing double-sided boards, while 63% percent of the respondents reported producing somesingle-side boards and 87% reported producing at least some multi-layer panels. Of those shops performing multi-layer manufacturing, the largest percentage of shops (94%) produce 4-6-layer boards. The number of shops producing higher layer counts dropped sharply with increasing layers; only two shops reported manufacturing any boards with more than 20 layers. In general, the production of higher layer boards is performed more by the larger production shops (> 500,000 ft2/yr) than the smaller ones. One major exception is respondent 6710.

Type of PWB Product
(% of board ft2)
Technology Level
(% of board ft2)
Respondent
ID
Production
(board ft2 per year)
Rigid Flex Combin-
ation
Single
Sided
Double
Sided
4-6
Layers
8-12 Layers 14-20 Layers More than
20 Layers
36930A nr 0 60 40 0 60 20 18 2 0
955099 nr 100 0 0 5 40 30 24 1 0
55595 nr 100 0 0 5 60 30 5 0 0
44486 nr 100 0 0 0 30 60 10 0 0
955703 nr 100 0 0 0 10 65 20 5 0
6710 15,000 100 0 0 0 5 0 15 80 0
947745 40,000 100 0 0 5 65 28 2 0 0
44657 42,358 100 0 0 5 50 25 18 2 0
29710 57,000 100 0 0 0 60 30 10 0 0
502100 60,000 0 95 5 50 45 0 5 0 0
32482 75,000 90 10 0 5 70 20 5 0 0
25503 90,000 5 85 10 70 20 3 2 0 0
36930 96,000 100 0 0 0 3 70 25 2 0
965874 175,000 100 0 0 15 85 0 0 0 0
953880 180,000 100 0 0 5 55 30 10 0 0
33089 200,000 100 0 0 20 80 0 0 0 0
T3 200,000 98 1 1 10 30 50 10 0 0
3470 240,000 100 0 0 5 83 11 1 0 0
43841 250,000 100 0 0 10 50 24 15 1 0
279 250,000 100 0 0 75 25 0 0 0 0
237900 273,000 100 0 0 1 5 65 29 1 0
273701 280,000 98 2 0 5 70 25 0 0 0
41739 300,000 100 0 0 32 50 27 1 0 0
959951 320,000 100 0 0 8 80 12 0 0 0
42692 360,000 100 0 0 3 62 35 0 0 0
358000 500,000 100 0 0 0 30 50 15 5 0
43694 500,000 0 100 0 74 23 3 0 0 0
37817 540,000 100 0 0 80 20 0 0 0 0
42751 540,000 100 0 0 0 10 20 50 20 0
T2 600,000 100 0 0 0 40 43 12 5 0
133000 600,000 0 60 40 4 60 5 25 5 1
T1 936,000 100 0 0 0 10 28 50 10 1
740500 1,800,000 100 0 0 0 0 80 20 0 0
946587 1,900,000 100 0 0 0 10 65 20 5 0
3023 2,300,000 100 0 0 0 0 70 15 15 0
31838 3,000,000 100 0 0 0 0 30 40 30 0
462800 3,750,000 100 0 0 100 0 0 0 0 0
107300 5,000,000 100 0 0 10 85 5 0 0 0
Exhibit 2-2. Product Type and Technology Level Data
Exhibit 2-3. Distibution of Respondents by Technology Level

Another method of comparing PWB manufacturing processes is variation of substrate type (Exhibit 2-2 and Exhibit 2-4). The two basic types of substrates are flexible (sometimes referred to as flex) and rigid. Unlike layer count categories where most shops produce at least some single-, double- and multi-layer boards, shops typically manufacture PWBs using rigid or flex substrates. Although the flex and rigid manufacturing processes are similar (base laminates, multi-layer construction, and surface finishing are the major areas of divergence), only one respondent reported manufacturing a significant percentage of both rigid and flex PWBs (respondent ID# 32483, 90% rigid, 10% flex).

Exhibit 2-4. Distribution of Respondents by Product Type

Exclusively rigid manufacturers are most common among survey respondents. Seventy-nine percent of respondents are exclusively rigid board manufacturers and 10.5% are exclusively non-rigid manufacturers.

A third category of PWB substrate type is rigid/flex combination. These boards consist of rigid and flex substrates that are bonded together to form three-dimensional PWB structures. They are often referred to as rigid/flex boards. Rigid/flex combinations are manufactured by 13.2% of respondents. Only one predominantly rigid manufacturer reported producing any rigid/flex combinations (ID# T3, 1% of total ft2). All other rigid/flex producers are flex manufacturers.b

In addition to the respondent discussed previously (ID# 32483), three other shops produce both rigid and flex boards, but their production is overwhelmingly either rigid or flex (ID# 25503: 5% rigid, 95% non-rigid; ID# T3: 98% rigid, 2% non-rigid; and ID# 273701: 98% rigid, 2% non-rigid).

Survey recipients were asked to provide current data on base laminate material used in their PWB manufacturing. The responses to this question are presented in Exhibit 2-5. Among base materials used for rigid PWBs (epoxy resin with a woven glass laminate surface) predominate. Ninety-seven percent of respondents reported manufacturing PWBs on FR-4 or multi-functional FR-4 substrates. Among exclusively rigid manufacturers, cyanate ester is used by 8.8%, PTFE (polytetrafluroroethylene) by 14.7%, and polyimide by 29.4% of these shops. CEM material, usually reserved for the lower technology single- and double-sided PWBs, is used by 35.3% of the rigid manufacturers. Among survey respondents, CEM material is used mostly by moderate to high production shops that produced single- or double-sided PWBs. CEM material includes CEM-1 (paper-epoxy resin core with woven glass on the laminate surface) and CEM-3 (epoxy resin with non-woven glass core and woven glass on the laminate surface)

Base Materials Used for Rigid PWB Manufacture
(% of board ft2)
Respondent
ID
Production
(board ft2 per year)
Percent
Rigid
CEM FR-4 Multi-
functional
Cyanate
Ester
PTFE Poly-
imide
Other
Materials
955099 nr 100 0 100 0 0 0 0 0
55595 nr 100 0 90 10 0 0 0 0
44486 nr 100 0 0 100 0 0 0 0
955703 nr 100 0 85 15 0 0 0 0
6710 15,000 100 0 0 100 0 0 0 0
947745 40,000 100 0 70 0 0 0 30 0
44657 42,358 100 2 88 5 0 0 5 0
29710 57,000 100 0 100 0 0 0 0 0
32482 75,000 90 0 60 30 0 5 5 0
36930 96,000 100 0 0 96 1 0 3 0
965874 175,000 100 0 100 0 0 0 0 0
953880 180,000 100 0 95 4 0 0 1 0
33089 200,000 100 5 95 0 0 0 0 0
T3 200,000 98 5 0 0 0 5 5 101
3470 240,000 100 1 83 0 0 0 1 152
43841 250,000 100 2 0 96 0 2 0 0
279 250,000 100 25 75 0 0 0 0 0
237900 273,000 100 0 98 2 0 0 0 0
273701 280,000 98 5 50 43 0 0 2 0
41739 300,000 100 1 80 10 0 9 0 0
959951 320,000 100 2 98 0 0 0 0 0
42692 360,000 100 0 100 0 0 0 0 0
358000 500,000 100 0 70 30 0 0 0 0
37817 540,000 100 75 25 0 0 0 0 0
42751 540,000 100 0 90 10 0 0 0 0
T2 600,000 100 0 40 60 0 0 0 0
T1 936,000 100 0 70 15 1 0 12 13
740500 1,800,000 100 0 100 0 0 0 0 0
946587 1,900,000 100 0 50 40 0 5 5 0
3023 2,300,000 100 0 5 80 5 0 0 101
31838 3,000,000 100 0 20 80 0 0 0 0
462800 3,750,000 100 80 20 0 0 0 0 0
107300 5,000,000 100 15 80 5 0 0 0 0
Exhibit 2-5. Base Materials Used for Rigid PWB Manufacture
1 GETEK
2 Bendflex
3 BT
nr = no response

Process capabilities in terms of layer counts have already been discussed. Other common categories of process capabilities include minimum via size (the smallest hole that is drilled and plated successfully) and minimum trace width (the smallest feature that can be imaged and etched successfully). Process capability data are presented in Exhibit 2-6. Drill equipment generally is the limiting factor for hole sizes, whereas cleanliness, photoresist type, etching practices and equipment, and other less distinct issues determine trace-width capabilities. Respondents reported minimum via capabilities ranging from 0.002 inches (holes of this size are generally referred to as "micro-vias") to 0.022 inches in diameter. Trace widths as low as 0.002 inches are produced by one respondent. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported manufacturing trace widths less than 0.005 inches. Traces in the 0.002-0.003 inches range are generally considered to be the smallest practical trace width achievable with common photo-resists and etchants.

PWB Type
(% board ft2)
Process Capabilities
Respondent
ID
Production
(board ft2 per year)
Rigid Non- Rigid Typical Via
(mils)
Min. Via
(mils)
Typical
Trace
(mils)
Min.
Trace
(mils)
Max.
Layers1
Mil-P-
55110
ISO- 90002
36930A nr 0 100 20 8 8 4 18 YES YES
955099 nr 100 0 7 5 8 5 16 NO YES
55595 nr 100 0 22 13 10 6 8 NO YES
44486 nr 100 0 0 8 6 3 12 NO YES
955703 nr 100 0 14 14 5 4 0 NO YES
6710 15,000 100 nr nr nr nr nr nr YES NO
947745 40,000 100 0 20 12 12 7 10 NO YES
44657 42,358 100 0 18 8 8 5 16 YES YES
29710 57,000 100 0 25 20 8 8 8 NO YES
502100 60,000 0 100 20 16 15 8 14 YES YES
32482 75,000 90 10 20 12 8 3 15 YES YES
25503 90,000 5 95 18 2 8 2 12 NO NO
36930 96,000 100 0 16 14 8 5 18 YES YES
965874 175,000 100 0 25 15 10 8 2 NO YES
953880 180,000 100 0 18 18 7 7 12 NO YES
33089 200,000 100 0 25 22 20 10 2 NO NO
T3 200,000 98 2 18 6 7 3 12 NO YES
3470 240,000 100 0 18 14 10 7 8 YES YES
43841 250,000 100 0 8 8 12 4 16 YES YES
279 250,000 100 0 30 18 12 8 2 NO NO
237900 273,000 100 0 25 20 6 3 18 YES YES
273701 280,000 98 2 20 10 10 6 6 NO YES
41739 300,000 100 0 28 13 10 5 10 YES NO
959951 320,000 100 0 18 10 8 5 8 NO NO
42692 360,000 100 0 22 13 10 6 6 NO YES
358000 500,000 100 0 15 12 7 5 14 YES YES
43694 500,000 0 100 18 10 8 5 14 NO YES
37817 540,000 100 0 20 16 10 10 2 NO NO
42751 540,000 100 0 18 10 5 3 24 NO YES
T2 600,000 100 0 18 8 8 5 16 NO YES
133000 600,000 0 100 18 13 7 7 24 YES YES
T1 936,000 100 0 18 10 8 3 24 NO NO
740500 1,800,000 100 0 14 10 5 3 18 NO YES
946587 1,900,000 100 0 4 2 5 3 20 NO YES
3023 2,300,000 100 0 20 12 8 4 27 YES YES
31838 3,000,000 100 0 14 8 5 4 24 NO YES
462800 3,750,000 100 0 34 18 25 8 3 NO YES
107300 5,000,000 100 0 25 18 8 5 4 NO YES
1 Maximum layer-count produced during previous year.
2 A "YES" response indicates only that the company has at least begun to pursue ISO-9000 certification.
nr = no response
Exhibit 2-6. Process Capabilities of Respondents

Other data displayed in Exhibit 2-6 relate to manufacturing process certifications. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported that they are MIL-P-55110 certified. MIL-P-55110 is the military specification covering PWB manufacturing. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents indicated that they have achieved or initiated the process of achieving ISO-9000 certification. ISO-9000 is an internationally recognized quality standard. Its applicability is not limited to the PWB industry.


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