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European printed circuit board (PCB) technology and environmental trends: their impact on PCB supply from China

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Purpose ‐ To give an introductory overview of the key issues that need to be addressed when manufacturing PCBs in China for the European market. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper gives an overview of key issues impacting manufacturers supplying printed circuit boards into Europe. The demand for higher performance and the need to comply with legislation such as the European RoHS Directive are posing significant challenges for non-European fabricators. The paper introduces some of the key issues including materials substitution, the move to lead-free assembly and new laminate requirements in the context of increasingly stringent quality and performance criteria. Findings ‐ Low cost manufacturers in China supply a large proportion of the PCBs used by the European electronics industry. If this supply is to continue as board complexities and performance requirements increase, PCB fabricators will need to pay careful attention to a wide range of issues including European legislation, choice of laminates, reliability and manufacture in compliance with industry specifications. Failure to meet these requirements will be costly and could result in the loss of European sales opportunities. Research limitations/implications ‐ There are significant challenges for overseas board manufacturers wishing to supply an increasingly demanding European market. Strategic alliances with partners in Europe can offer one route for better understanding these demands and meeting customer requirements without incurring unnecessary costs. Originality/value ‐ The paper attempts to highlight some of the issues and potential problem areas that need to be addressed when using low cost manufacturing routes to supply high quality circuit boards into the European market.
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Keywords: China; Europe; Laminates; Printed circuits; Reliability management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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