Dr. Nakahara Takes on Printed Electronics
This e-mail conversation between Dr. Hayao Nakahara and me took place between December 31, 2009 and January 6, 2010. This discussion was inspired by my article "20,000 Printed Circuit Shops, Worldwide, by 2020." I have not altered the content of the e-mails except for punctuation and clarification and I reprint our short discussion with permission from Dr. Nakahara.
First, My Comments
As an industry, I believe we need to have a critical dialog about printed electronics (PE) and how our industry will respond. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Nakahara and believe he does make some very valid points, but the PE market is moving at light speed. Technologists will develop solutions to many of the issues that "Naka" mentions below, not for PCBs, but for PE products, which will catch many of us off guard. As the futurist Ray Kurzweil points out: Ignore exponentially growing technologies and markets at your own peril, especially those from which we make our living.
I read you comments on Printed Electronics. I do not think PE will replace existing PCBs, but it has some spots in PCBs.
I do not agree with the advocates for PE saying that PE will replace all PCB. What about 60-layer back panels which need to carry very high frequency signals and heavy currents? How about cell phone boards which are typically 6 to 10 layers of extreme density? Can you substantiate that PE PCB can replace 10-layer notebook motherboards? Well, it is your opinion. What about the costs of PE PCB?
One positive part of PE is that it is environmentally friendly.
Currently, there are approximately 2,800 PCB makers in the world (I have lists of names of PCB makers worldwide, except in Eastern Europe). The number is decreasing slowly, but steadily. I cannot believe there will be 20,000 PCB makers in 2020. There may be 5,000 factories, but not 20,000 makers.
Nevertheless, Happy New Year.
We are going to run this video next week. I thought you might like to see it.