The rise of China's PC, smartphone and LCD TV industries has triggered heavy investments, and consequently sustained growth for the PCB supply chain in China, enabling China-based PCB makers to even compete with Taiwan-based suppliers in the HDI (high density interconnect) board segment, according to industry observers.

Buoyed by increasing orders from a number of China-based brands such as Lenovo, ZTE, Huawei and TCL, the PCB supply chain in China, including suppliers for rigid PCBs, multi-layered PCBs, copper foils, CCLs and FCCLs, has made substantial progress, noted the sources.

Some makers are now able to produce high-end HDI boards in 36-44 layers and are also ready to enter the IC substrate sector, said the sources, adding that demand for high-end process equipment from China-based PCB suppliers has also increased substantially.

The expanding PCB supply chain in China has also resulted in a consolidation within the industry, forcing some local small-scale operators, particularly those in eastern coastal areas, to withdraw from the market, noted the sources.

The operations of Taiwan-based PCB makers in China, including Global Brands Manufacture (GBM), Compeq Manufacturing and Taiwan PCB Techvest (TPT), have not been affected significantly by the industry consolidation in China as these companies have moved their production bases to Western China, said the sources.

However, the consistent upgrading of manufacturing process and rising competitiveness in the HDI segment by China-based makers could spell a threat to Taiwan-based counterparts, commented the sources.