iPhone Advanced Manufacturing

Apple found a vendor of printed circuit board (PCB) equipment last month. To purchase the equipment directly. Apple signed a contract worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It is not uncommon for an Apple factory to have a manufacturing facility. It is also an unfamiliar thing in PCB industry. Why was Apple suddenly buying equipment?

Apple is expected to lease the equipment it is currently leasing to suppliers that supply RFPCB. There are two companies that are in the spotlight, and they are preparing for actual equipment wear.

RFPCB is a mixture of rigid 'rigid' and bendable 'flexible' PCBs. It is classified as high value because it is more technical level than standard product and it is difficult to make.

Apple's purchase of equipment is due to changes in supply and demand. Especially, it was analyzed that it was related to the organic light emitting diode (OLED) According to industry sources, three companies wanted to get RFPCBs for touch screen panels ( TSPs ) into OLED iPhones . TSP is a part that enables finger touch input on the screen of smartphone.

However, just before the mass production, one company broke away from the ranks. "We know that one company has given up manufacturing because it cannot supply it," said an official with a PCB company. The company explained that the company, which suffered a shortage of RFPCB supply and was in need of supply, directly supported the expansion of other makers' facilities. The manufacturer who gave up manufacturing was known as Taiwan PCB Company.

RFPCB makers are medium or small businesses and therefore are not well funded. Apple, on the other hand, has huge cash holdings. The direct expansion of RFPCB makers is burdensome, while Apple is much less. Rather, the production disruption of the iPhone is a bigger task for Apple. Apple also has the ability to run more quickly because it has available cash to run.

The reasons for the abandonment of the Taiwanese business were not confirmed. In terms of parts makers, Apple is a very large customer. Last year, however, Sony had been trying to supply Apple with a dual camera and then withdrew it. Technical difficulties, manufacturing problems, and profitability. The Taiwanese company's abandonment seems like a small happening in preparation, but the industry is not so much affected. Especially, it is causing butterfly effect in domestic FPCB industry. Two companies will share Apple's RFPCB quantities, which are expected to reach 100 million units this year.

As the order volume is expanding, we expect more than expected results. Both companies, which are expected to increase orders, are domestic companies. Here, Apple is adding an additional RFPCB vendor. The Taiwanese company is filling up the missing vacancies. New suppliers are reportedly preparing for production lines within the year and participating in supply from next year. It is also a domestic company to place a new name. The company is preparing to invest in facilities. "An overseas FPCB maker, such as Taiwan or China, concentrates on producing double-sided or multi-products, and there is no suitable equipment to produce the RFPCB required by Apple," said a PCB official who asked for anonymity. "Apple's orders are being driven by the availability of production infrastructure, including experience and know-how."


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