After several years of work, the CHIPS Act has been signed and funds are beginning to be disbursed. What does this mean for the microelectronics industry?
David Schild: The CHIPS Act is a great start toward making our supply chains more secure and resilient, but simply building more semiconductors in the United States isn’t the end of the story. Printed circuit boards and IC substrates need the same level of attention that chips are getting. Over the last 25 years, we’ve fallen from 30% of the world’s supply of PCBs made here in the United States to just 4% today. Reshoring every layer of the technology stack should be the next priority for policymakers.
We’re starting to hear senior officials such as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo refer to a microelectronics “ecosystem.” Why is that term so important?
Because chips don’t float. Dozens and sometimes hundreds of electronic components are needed to make modern technologies function. Also, it’s not enough to make the next generation of semiconductors here in America if we don’t address the rest of the stack. It goes beyond just having factories in the United States. It’s imperative that America invent the PCBs and substrates of the future, and very often R&D is co-located with production. An ecosystem approach is the only way to achieve the economic and national security goals we all share.
You’ve recently joined PCBAA as its executive director. How does that organization fit into this discussion?
PCBAA is focused on a three-pronged mission to educate, advocate, and legislate for our industry. We represent the manufacturers, assemblers, and critical suppliers in this space, and we’re signing up new members every month. If you’re concerned about our industry’s challenges and want to level the playing field, we need you on our growing team.
What’s next for industry efforts to secure the supply chain?
The 118th Congress has an opportunity to “finish the job” when it comes to investments in American microelectronics manufacturing. Building on the success of CHIPs, our industry is advocating for legislation that would fund industry growth directly and incentivize the purchase of American PCBs via significant tax credits.
This column originally appears in the April 2023 issue of PCB007 Magazine.