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Shipments of rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs) increased 5.1 percent in March compared to the month before, while flexible circuit shipments rose 15 percent, according to the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC).
The book-to-bill ratio for rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined was 0.95, up from 0.84 in February. That means board manufacturers received $95 in new orders for every $100 of boards that shipped March.
Bookings for rigid boards increased 26 percent, while bookings for flexible circuits declined 7.4 percent, the IPC reported. For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in March 2011 increased 14.9 percent and bookings increased 21.9 percent.
North American PCB sales in March were strong and followed normal seasonal patterns, as sales of both rigid PCBs and flexible circuits remain ahead of last year, according to IPC President & CEO Denny McGuirk.
"Stronger sales than orders is the dynamic keeping the book-to-bill ratio holding slightly below parity, which indicates slowing growth over the next quarter," said McGuirk.
The combined book-to-bill ratio for rigid and flexible circuits is heavily affected by the rigid PCB segment because rigid boards represent an estimated 89 percent of the current PCB industry in North America, according to the IPC.