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Orders for printed circuit boards increased in January, indicating improving business conditions for board makers.Shipments of rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs and flexible circuits) in January declined 3.5 percent from January 2011, while orders booked increased 6.2 percent, according to the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC).
Rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales followed “normal seasonal patterns in January,” with sales down from December, said Sharon Starr, IPC market research director.
“The good news is that rigid PCB orders are up and the book-to-bill ratios for both rigid and flexible circuits improved again this month. They are now just above parity, which suggests a return to modest growth in the new few months,” Starr noted.
The combined rigid and flex industry book-to-bill ratio in January 2012 was 1.01 up slightly from 1.00 in December. A book-to-bill ratio of 1.01 means board manufacturers received $101 in new orders for every $100 of boards they shipped.
Rigid board shipments were down 3.1 percent in January 2012 from January 2011, but bookings increased 10.9 percent year over year, IPC reported. Flexible circuit shipments in January 2012 were down 7.9 percent and bookings were down 29.4 percent compared to January 2011.
Rigid PCBs represent an estimated 89 percent of the current PCB industry in North America. Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flexible circuits.