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46 PCB007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2021 Article by Stanley L. Bentley, P.E. ICAPE GROUP If there is anyone le in the electronics com- munity that has not been impacted by the cha- os in PCB pricing and lead times, they must live in an alternate universe. I have been in the industry for 50 years. In that time, there have been many periods of shortages and price vari- ations. None of those periods compares to the situation today. Seldom does a day pass with- out someone requesting a conference call to discuss the price increase. Everyone asks the same question: "What is the root cause?" I have spent quite a bit of time the past few months researching PCB costing, and I have concluded there is no single root cause. I wish to add a disclaimer: During my investigation, I did not solicit the opinion of anyone with a ti- tle of politician, economist, or professor. Sor- ry, folks. I went directly to the street, soliciting the opinions of people who actually live in this universe. e first thing I wish to do is dispel the conspiracy theory that has been making the rounds. at theory is that the root cause of cost increases was that a certain Asian govern- ment believed that a new U.S. administration would remove the tariffs on electronics. Asia saw no reason for all the prices to fall since the United States had (seemingly) absorbed the tariff increases. erefore, Asia wanted to cre- ate a general price increase that benefited all parts of the local supply chain by starting with the raw material. Whew! It is easy to see why this narrative has persevered. e reality is that the costing surge is a complex mix of economic events and not a single Machiavellian scheme. is conspiracy theory is the stuff of Tom Clan- cy novels, but not applicable to the present sit- uation. (Sorry Tom.) A small digression is needed to examine the costing structure of a PCB. ere are many different models circulating around and ev- ery PCB fabricator has their own version from which they derive their pricing. I would pro- PCB Lead Times and Price Increases Reasons and Solutions to

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