Plastics have always played an important role in the development of E/E equipment and components, beginning with insulators and domestic appliances and reaching finally to sophisticated products featuring today's electronic components. Engineering and high-performance plastics are gaining more and more importance in this sector. This is a closer look into what is happening globally.
The E/E sector is a US$ 2.13 trillion global market (1995), with tremendous growth rates, especially in Southeast Asia. With 29 percent of the production in Japan, 27 percent in the U.S. and 21 percent in Western Europe, these traditional suppliers of E/E products still dominate this market. However, multinational companies are increasingly setting up subsidiaries in Southeast Asia to be present in the fastest growing economies.
Until the year 2000, Asia will be the second largest consumer of E/E products and one of the major producers. Production growth rates in Southeast Asia will reach 9 percent per year, twice as high as in the U.S. and in Western Europe.
In Western Europe, approximately 1.1 million tons of plastics have been moulded into E/E products. It is the second largest sector for the injection moulding industry after packaging, but still larger than automotive components. Engineering and high- performance plastics in particular are increasingly applied in the E/E sector. The main reasons?
- miniaturization of the components
- increase of functionality
- further substitution of thermosets and aluminum
- new production techniques
- improvement of the cost/profit relationship.
New trends in product and technology development are arising from the regulations for EMI shielding and the trend to injection mould 3-D and multilayer circuits. This could lead to an enormous additional growth for high-performance plastics like PEEK and LCP.
Telecommunication is the fastest growing E/E sector. It is predicted to become a US$ 650 billion market worldwide by the year 2000. In 1995 the growth rate in Europe reached more than 8 percent.
The following global facts support the importance of this market:
- 600 million phone lines exist worldwide.
- 60 million portable phones are used, half of them in the U.S. and more than 15 million in Europe.
- 40 million people use e-mail; more than 50 million use fax.
- 50 million users have internet access.
- more than 2.5 million WWW pages are registered on the Internet.
- LAN switches will create a total turnover of approximately US$ 6 billion.
These data indicate the importance of the E/E sector in today's industrial and consumer world. Plastics, especially injection moulded parts, are indispensable components and technologically a driving force in this important segment of E/E parts. For more insight into some of the players moulding for this market in Europe, go to Telectronics and the Injection Moulder