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Orders for New Printed Circuit Boards Increase

The book-to-bill ratio for rigid boards and flexible circuits increased to 1.04 in February, as more OEMs and contract manufacturers increased orders.
Combined shipments of rigid printed circuit boards and flexible circuits in February decreased 2.3 percent from February 2011, while new orders booked increased 6.5 percent, according to the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC).

Compared to the previous month, industry board shipments and new orders combined increased 6 percent in February.

The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in February improved to 1.04 from 1.00 in January. A book-to-bill ratio of 1.04 means board manufacturers received $104 in new orders for every $100 of boards they shipped in February.

Rigid PCB shipments declined 1.9 percent in February 2012 compared to February 2011. However, bookings increased 6.9 percent, said IPC. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments increased 5.9 percent and rigid bookings increased 4.3 percent.

Flexible circuit shipments in February 2012 declined 6.5 percent, but bookings increased 1.8 percent compared to February 2001. Compared to January 2012, flexible circuit shipments increased 7.4 percent and flex bookings were up 26 percent.

“Growth rates for both rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales in North America are improving,” said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. “Order growth was especially strong in February and it pushed the book-to-bill ratio up to 1.04, indicating that sales are likely to continue strengthening for the next several months.”

Rigid PCBs represent an estimated 89 percent of the current PCB industry in North America, according to IPC. Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flexible circuits.