The PCB industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors, with experts forecasting its worth to be nearly $76 billion by 2025. To keep up with this rapid growth and the demand for more functionality, PCB technologies have advanced significantly over the last decade – and shows no signs of slowing down.

One of the most notable and transformative innovations in the electronics sector is the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result of the IoT, companies across nearly every industry are using connected devices to operate more efficiently, access real-time data to enhance decision-making, and add value to their business. From smart factories with automated manufacturing to construction personnel with hand-held devices to aircraft with smart sensors, IoT technologies are everywhere. And at the heart of connected devices is a PCB.

The Internet of Things and connected devices continue to rapidly spread as the demand grows for these electronics. Industries are realizing that nearly every device needs to be smart in the digital era. As a result, PCB technologies are being pushed to provide designs that deliver higher performance and advanced functionality. As new trends emerge in 2022 and beyond, PCB design, manufacturing, and assembly processes must all adapt to meet the advancements of the electronics industry of today – and tomorrow.

What is the Internet of Things?

The IoT is the use of the internet in physical devices and everyday objects. IoT is a very broad concept as the “thing” can refer to a wide range of objects such as a vehicle with sensors, a person with a wearable heart monitor, or an animal with a transponder. IoT devices are equipped with internet connectivity and other necessary hardware like sensors or processors that measure and report data via the internet. Everyday examples of connected devices include smart lighting and thermostats, smart watches, wearable medical devices, and hand-held electronics in manufacturing facilities. IoT technologies are present in nearly every aspect of our lives – and demand for connected devices, especially wearables and hand-helds, are only expected to grow with time.

PCB Trends in 2022 and Beyond

Given how rapidly the electronics industry has evolved in recent years, there are several key PCB innovations to keep an eye on. Since the PCB and PCBA sectors are so intertwined, trends within the PCB industry directly impact the PCBA sector as well. Below are some of the latest PCB innovations and trends. It should be noted that PCB manufacturing and assembly is becoming more complex over time as pressure increases to deliver high quality PCBs at faster turnaround times. When selecting a partner, it is imperative that companies team up professionals, like Riverside Integrated Solutions (RIS), that employ advanced PCBA technologies and are focused on meeting the challenges of new PCB innovations and the ever-evolving trends.

· High-Power PCBs: PCB technologies now enable the production of high-power PCBs that can manage voltage at 48V and above. This advancement gives the opportunity for high-power boards to be used in a broader range of electronics than was possible before. These boards are also able to accommodate more components, increasing their functionality beyond the typical PCB design. The trend for more high-power PCBs continues to grow, especially as the demand for electric vehicles and other applications that require higher voltage expands.

· Miniature PCBs: the need for smaller, lighter, and thinner PCBs continues as the demand accelerates for more portable and higher functionality electronics, including hand-held and wearable IoT devices for consumer and commercial markets. High density circuitry is an amazing advancement that has enabled tinier, more tightly packed boards that are necessary for these devices. High density boards also reduce the need for layering, often resulting in lower production costs. For these reasons, high density PCBs are gaining popularity in smart devices. Additionally, consumers expect connected devices to deliver long battery life, requiring PCB designs to deliver robust power management systems. PCB and PCBA providers alike must keep up with these rapid advancements and be able to manufacture and assemble smaller boards with more compact components.

· More Flexible PCBs: traditional PCBs are rigid and inflexible. One of the recent trends is toward more flexible PCBs. These are categorized as flex, which has more bend and is able to withstand more movement and harsher conditions than traditional rigid PCBs. Flex PCBs are often more impact resistant, such as the impact from dropping a cell phone. A third category of PCBs is rigid-flex, which is a hybrid option that offers the best attributes of both rigid and flex technologies. Rigid-flex PCBs typically contain flexible layers attached to one or more rigid boards. In order to remain competitive, PCBA providers must broaden their expertise to include flexible, rigid, and rigid-flex PCB arrangements and the associated assembly processes for each.

· More Sustainable PCB Designs: as the demand for electronics continues to climb so does the concern over electronics waste. To address this issue, many PCB designers are focusing on more sustainable designs such as biodegradable PCBs as well as the recycling and reuse of metals used in PCB manufacturing. There are many benefits to pursing more environmentally friendly operations including waste reduction, efficiency gains, improved brand reputation, and the ability to meet new regulations – all of which provide manufacturers a more competitive edge.

· More Reliance on Automation in PCB Manufacturing: in order to deliver high-quality products with rapid speed to market, PCB and PCBA providers are relying more heavily on process automation technologies. The additional automation not only provides productivity and speed benefits, it reduces labor costs and the risk of error during operations. Automation and robotics also allow for easier customization and modifications since design changes can be made by simply modifying the software input.

Looking for a PCB assembly partner with proven experience and advanced facilities?

Contact the team at RIS to learn more about our PCBA and other product assembly expertise.

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RIS Manufacturing Solutions

RIS is an advanced contract manufacturer providing robust solutions in circuit board assembly, product assembly, kitting, supply chain management, fulfillment, distribution, and reverse logistics. We employ more than 300 people and provide services to OEM’s across the world. We operate 3 state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities within the U.S, and as your one-stop-shop we have the capabilities, capacity, quality assurance standards, and resources to provide you with support for all of your manufacturing needs.

With all of the contract manufacturing partner choices out there, we know it can be difficult to find someone that not only understands your business model but also has your best intentions in mind. RIS has proven to always be a win-win focused relationship. As your one-stop-shop, we have the capabilities, capacity, quality assurance standards, and resources to provide you with support for all of your manufacturing needs. We understand that supply chain management is difficult and very time consuming, so we urge our customers to utilize us in the fullest capacity. Our total-package solutions include:

 

· Extensive supply-chain network

· Purchasing and inventory management

· Dedicated Program Manager

· Warehousing and drop-shipping capabilities

· Flexible order fulfillment

· Product assembly: sub-assembly and full product

· Scalability to meet your needs

Contact us today at (507) 523-3220 to see how we can help with your PCB assembly needs, or click here for a quote.