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FPC Will Have Huge Potential Market Based on Iphone's New Generation

FPC Will Have Huge Potential Market Based on Iphone's New Generation
Issue Time:2018-07-19

What is FPC?

FPC is the abbreviation of Flexible Printed Circuit, also known as flexible circuit board, flexible printed circuit board, flexible circuit board, referred to as soft board or FPC, is a printed circuit made of flexible insulating substrate (PI, PET, etc.)

flexible pcbFPC has many advantages that are not available with rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs). For example, it can be freely bent, wound, folded, can be arbitrarily arranged according to the spatial layout requirements, and can be arbitrarily moved and expanded in a three-dimensional space, thereby achieving integration of component assembly and wire connection. It can greatly reduce the weight and volume of electronic products based on FPC wiring density, light weight, thin thickness advantages, meet the needs of electronic products to develop in the direction of high density, miniaturization and high reliability. Therefore, FPC has been widely used in fields such as notebook computers, computer peripherals, LCD modules, LED lighting, office equipment, digital cameras, mobile phones, PDAs, laser heads, instrumentation, medical instruments and automotive products. 

Today, a smartphone needs about 10-15 FPCs. FPC can be used for motherboards, displays, touch screens, buttons, camera modules, fingerprint recognition modules, microphones, speakers, USB, sensors, antennas, SIM cards, etc. of smart phones. It can be said that almost all mobile phone parts need to be connected to the motherboard through FPC.

From the road of Apple's technological innovation, we can see the application of FPC on smart phones. The FPC industry is expected to share the market dividend brought by Apple's mobile phone technology upgrade for a long time. It can be said that it is Apple's use of FPC that has created a brilliant history of FPC on smartphones.

At the beginning, Apple's iPhone, iPhone3G, and iPhone3GS all adopted the FPC antenna design structure, and FPC maintained a high-speed growth rate from 2009 to 2014. In 2010, the iPhone 4 first upgraded the mobile phone motherboard from ordinary HDI to any layer of HDI, which opened up the thin and light travel of the mobile phone. In 2014, the fingerprint recognition launched by iPhone6 opened the door for FPC in the field of mobile phone fingerprint identification, leading the rapid growth of fingerprint recognition FPC segment in recent years. 

The iPhone 7 dual camera in 2016 and the iPhone 10th Anniversary Edition of the iPhoneX upgrade to the mobile phone are unprecedented in strength. The use of OLED screen requires flexible FPC display, wireless charging requires the use of FPC, and the use of the class board requires FPC. To achieve this, it can be seen that every time Apple's technology upgrades bring new market space for FPC, there are currently 16 FPCs on the iPhone, and Apple is the main customer of the top 6 FPC manufacturers in the world.

FPC assembly

Under the leadership of Apple, Samsung, Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo have also joined the FPC camp. Take the Samsung Galaxy S5 as an example, the FPC reaches 12-13 pieces. It can be foreseen that the demand for antennas in the 5G era in 2020 will also increase the requirements for high frequency and low loss of FPC. The FPC industry will fully enjoy the market dividend brought by the upgrade of smart phone technology.

The iPhone is wirelessly charged for the first time, and the "wind vane" is worth looking forward to.

With the rapid penetration of wireless charging in the smart phone industry, industry chain related companies are expected to benefit in depth. According to IHS forecast, the wireless charging market will surge sharply in the next few years. In 2015, the wireless charging market will be 1.7 billion US dollars. It is expected to reach 11 billion US dollars in 2019. The average annual compound growth rate is close to 60%, and the penetration rate is expected to increase from 7%. Up to 60%.

In comparison, the receiving end process is more difficult due to space constraints. The receiving coil needs to be intrinsically restricted by the receiving terminal such as a mobile phone, and low loss and thinning are necessary. Currently, the main form of the receiving coil includes both FPC and copper wire winding. The advantage of the FPC solution is that the product can be as thin as 0.2mm or less. The Samsung S7 and S8 mobile phones have FPC-type wireless charging receiving coils. According to the relevant industry chain research information, the value of FPC+NFC+MST is about 5 US dollars, of which FPC Less than 2 dollars. FPC for wireless charging is not strict with the line spacing, but there are two difficulties: First, the shape is spiral, it is difficult to complete the photolithography method; secondly, the bonding surface needs to be tolerated, otherwise it will lead to an increase in production cost. The advantage of copper wire winding is that the internal resistance is low, the loss is small, and the relative efficiency is high. TDK has introduced a variety of thickness wireless charging receiver coils ranging in thickness from 0.52 mm to 1.25 mm, which is disadvantageous in size compared to FPC products.

Fingerprint recognition has become the fastest growing segment of FPC applications.

Fingerprint recognition accelerates penetration and continues to drive the rapid growth of FPC demand. According to CCID Consulting's data, in 2015, the global smart terminal fingerprint identification chip shipments reached 478 million, and the market sales reached 2.11 billion US dollars. It is estimated that by 2018, the global smart terminal fingerprint identification chip market will reach 1.199 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 36% and sales of 3.07 billion US dollars. Whether it is unlocking mobile phones, replacing passwords, or mobile payment, fingerprint recognition has unlimited imagination space, which indirectly promotes the shipment of FPC for fingerprint identification, and has become the fastest-growing sub-application area for FPC growth in recent years.

Full screen pushes COF solution to accelerate penetration and bring new demand to FPC.

The 18:9 display driver IC package can still use the COG process, which is significantly improved compared to the 16:9, 18:9 mobile phone, but in the next few years with the full screen from 18:9 to 19:9 Even with the 20:9 evolution, the COG will be more and more powerless. With the COF full screen, the left and right borders may reach a distance of less than 0.5mm, and the lower end frame may be reduced to a distance of 3.6mm or even smaller, so the COF will meet the demand for higher screen ratio. For the full screen, the best way is based on the COF process (ie the touch IC is fixed on the FPC soft board), which can further increase the display area compared to the COG. According to research data from the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, although the cost of adopting COF's 1:6 MUX TDDI solution is 6.5-9.5 USD higher than that of COG's 1:3 MUX TDDI, the lower frame size limit can be reduced from 3.4-3.5mm to 2.3. -2.5mm. With the comprehensive screen becoming one of the certain trends in the upgrade of the smartphone industry, the COF solution is expected to drive the demand for FPC boards to increase significantly.

Diversified downstream applications, FPC embraces automotive electronics / wearable new blue ocean.

Due to its flexible nature and small size, FPC has been widely used as a connection component in automotive ECUs (Electronic Control Units) in recent years, such as watch panel display, audio, display, etc., with high signal transmission and high Equipment required for reliability. As traditional cars gradually transition to automatic driving through ADAS, and the promotion of new energy vehicles, the penetration rate of automotive electronics continues to increase; it is expected that the future functions will be more abundant, and the high-end models will continue to penetrate into the low-end. FPC usage in a car is more than 100 pieces. LCD panels, touch screens, GPS positioning systems, cameras, etc. all need to use soft boards; vehicle FPC has great market demand, but the technical requirements and stability of vehicle FPC are higher. There are higher requirements for quality traceability.

car pcb

Wearable devices are widely used in sports, entertainment, sleep, smart home, life, medical, military and other fields; covering smart watches, fitness tracking devices, smart glasses, smart clothing, medical equipment, headphones, hearing aids, etc. Product category. FPC's lightness, flexibility and wearable device have the highest fit, which is the preferred connection device; the new blue ocean of wearable device is expected to become another growth point of future mobile intelligent terminal, FPC may become the biggest beneficiary.

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