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As we reach the end of a difficult year managing the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, another series of challenges is rapidly coming into focus for EMEA and North American PCB manufacturers and their supply base.
Increased demand, static capacity, and industrial accidents have all come together to cause longer lead-times, reduced availability, and upward price pressure for key raw materials. These factors are likely to have a mix of long-, medium- and short-term effects on the outlook for CCL and prepreg (PP) prices, but the pressure is building for significant and, in the case of copper foil, sustained price rises that would start coming into effect in early 2021.
Copper Foil and Copper
Demand for copper foil is increasing from both PCB and battery production for e-mobility, leading to an upward price pressure for copper foils as post lockdown pent-up demand starts to exceed capacity. Lead times are stretching and prices increasing, particularly for heavy copper foils (2 oz./70 micron and above) as capacity is repurposed to maximize square-meter output for lightweight foils to increase capacity for lithium battery production.
With the forecast growth for battery demand, long lead times, and high investment costs to increase copper foil manufacturing capacity, this situation is unlikely to ease given the policy statements and green agendas of most governments for the coming 5–10 years. The lithium battery forecasts for China alone give a strong indication of the impact on supply and demand, and price pressure for copper foils in the coming 10 years.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the January 2021 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.