20% of PCBs will be produced with more sustainable methods and materials by 2033

Sustainable Electronics Manufacturing 2023-2033

Covering sustainable, green electronics, materials and manufacturing, integrated circuits, printed circuit boards, PCBs, printed, flexible, and hybrid electronics.

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IDTechEx's latest report Sustainable Electronics Manufacturing: 2023-2033, explores how the environmental impact of manufacturing printed circuit boards (PCBs) and integrated circuits (ICs) can be reduced through innovative materials choices and processing methods. This includes implementing low temperature processing, eliminating superfluous wasteful steps, recycling and re-using materials where possible, and adopting novel approaches where long-term potential is foreseen. IDTechEx expects that within a decade, 20% of PCBs could be manufactured using more sustainable methods such as dry etching, printing, and low temperature solder component attachment. The report explores what many well-known electronics manufacturers are doing to enact cost-effective and sustainable measures including Samsung, IBM, Intel, Toshiba, Apple, and Dell, among others.
Sustainable manufacturing methods covered in this report
The report assesses sustainable methods of electronics manufacturing and concentrates on innovations within printed circuit boards and integrated circuits. The report evaluates how sustainable innovation can drive forward the new era of flexible electronics and covers different materials and manufacturing processes that can deliver effective long-term sustainability improvements. Covering each key stage of the value chain for PCB and IC manufacturing, the report identifies areas that can benefit from innovation. These are compared not just in terms of the emissions, materials, and water consumption but also in terms of what is scalable and cost-effective to implement. The analysis covers the following areas:
  • Different material choices for PCB and IC substrates
  • Alternatives to traditional wet etching.
  • Additive approaches such as printing metallic traces.
  • Low temperature component attachment materials
  • Shifts towards new dielectrics as integrated circuits reduce in dimension
  • End of life analysis
Emerging flexible electronics benefit from sustainable innovations
Most electronics today are manufactured on rigid substrates; however, flexible electronics are on the rise as a wide range of different application areas grow including wearable technology and flexible displays. The flexible PCB substrate market is expected to reach US$1.2 billion by 2033, largely led by polyimide - a bendable plastic substrate already used in the PCB industry. Polyimide is an expensive material and is also environmentally unfriendly. The report discusses the use of cheaper materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) but also biodegradable materials such as paper and natural fibres. While these are some way away from appearing in everyday devices, many household names have pursued pilot projects employing biodegradable PCBs among which are Microsoft and Dell.
A key advantage to the next generation of electronics is that its success depends upon innovation. Liberated from traditional processing routes, pioneering approaches can be adopted from the get-go that save time, reduce waste, and cut emissions. These approaches may involve something relatively simple such as switching to low temperature solder or something more revolutionary such as adopting a partial or fully additive manufacturing approach. The advantages and compromises to implementing sustainable innovations are fully evaluated in IDTechEx's report, Sustainable Electronics Manufacturing.
Key questions answered in this report
  • What are the key policies and legislations to watch out for?
  • What are existing low emission technologies that can be implemented?
  • What disruptive technologies are on the horizon?
  • Which novel manufacturing routes are both sustainable, reliable, and scalable?
  • How can additive manufacturing reduce costs and minimise waste?
  • Where are the key materials growth opportunities?
  • What are key players doing to improve sustainability?
IDTechEx has 20 years of expertise covering emerging technologies, including printed and flexible electronics. Our analysts have closely followed the latest developments in relevant markets, interviewed key players across the supply chain, attended conferences, and delivered consulting projects on the field. This report examines the current status and latest trends in technology performance, supply chain, manufacturing know-how, and application development progress. It also identifies the key challenges, competition and innovation opportunities within sustainable electronics manufacturing.
Key Aspects
This report provides the following information:
Technology trends & manufacturer analysis:
  • Discussion of emerging flexible materials for printed circuit boards and integrated circuits, including polyimide, polyethylene terephthalate, paper, and natural fibre, among others.
  • Comparison of different component attachment materials, including conventional solder, low temperature solder, and electrically conductive adhesives.
  • Comparison of wet and dry etching methods ways with a view to reducing chemical waste and cutting costs.
  • Sustainability benchmarking of different materials and manufacturing processes.
  • Insight into what key industry players are doing to enact sustainability measures in their fabrication methods.
  • End of life analysis and highlighting of key areas to be improved to reduce the environmental impact and emissions associated with the manufacturing of printed circuit boards and integrated circuits.
  • Evaluation of emerging additive manufacturing routes and the companies developing them.
  • Assessment of how rising energy prices will affect the adoption of new materials and manufacturing processes.
Market Forecasts & Analysis:
  • Market size and 10-year market forecasts segmented by revenue, production volume, and materials requirements. Assessment of technological and commercial readiness level for different materials and processes related to the manufacturing of printed circuit boards and integrated circuits.
Analyst access from IDTechEx
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Further information
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Table of Contents
1.1.Sustainability is of growing importance in the electronics industry
1.2.Europe aiming to double global market share of integrated circuits
1.3.International supply chain comes with heavy emissions burden
1.4.Large share of renewables in developed countries could reduce 'reshoring' cost premium
1.5.Digital manufacturing can facilitate sustainable electronics manufacturing
1.6.Recycling/reuse initiatives are a strong opportunity
1.7.One third of emissions from the electronics industry are produced by integrated circuits
1.8.Market status of FR4 alternatives
1.9.Sustainability benefits of PCB manufacturing with 'print and plate'
1.10.Comparing component attachment types
1.11.Market readiness of different solders and ECAs
1.12.Etchant produces largest amount of hazardous waste in PCB manufacturing
1.13.Ingot sawing costs industry billions in lost silicon and wasted energy
1.14.Gallium nitride is more sustainable and lower cost than silicon for ICs
1.15.PragmatIC developing thin film alternatives to silicon with 1000x lower embedded energy
1.16.Dry (plasma) etching could provide long-term savings and reduce toxic waste in IC manufacturing
1.17.Physical vapour deposition may be the best choice for IC copper interconnects
1.18.Water conservation increasing among major players
1.19.Samsung operating global take-back schemes
1.20.Key takeaways (i)
1.21.Key takeaways (ii)
1.22.Key takeaways (iii)
2.1.The electronics industry today
2.2.Sustainability is of growing importance in the electronics industry
2.3.EU aims to cut emissions by >55 % by 2030
2.4.'Fit for 55' expected to drive forward a sustainable electronics industry within the EU
2.5.Global electronics industry may follow suit
2.6.Large share of renewables could benefit low-cost manufacturing
2.7.Ubiquitous electronics require sustainable solutions
2.8.Engaging with sustainability promotes new opportunities in the electronics industry
2.9.Conventional electronics manufacturing poses obstacles to sustainability challenge
2.10.Sustainability regulations around the world impacting the electronic industry
2.11.Carbon prices are expected to rise
2.12.The SEC is cracking down on greenwashing
2.13.Manufacturing strategies to increase speed and reduce embedded energy
2.14.Digital manufacturing can facilitate sustainable electronics manufacturing
2.15.Recycling/reuse initiatives for electronics gain traction
2.16.International supply chain comes with heavy emissions burden
2.17.Traditional PCBs: Emissions reductions enabled by on-site prototyping
2.18.Report structure (i): PCB value chain
2.19.Report structure (ii): Integrated circuits (ICs) value chain
3.1.Forecasting methodology
3.2.PCB substrate production
3.3.PCB substrate revenue
3.4.Patterning and metallization: Rigid PCBs
3.5.Patterning and metallization: Flexible PCBs
3.6.Component attachment materials: Rigid PCBs
3.7.Component attachment materials: Flexible PCBs
3.8.Materials for integrated circuits (i)
3.9.Production of integrated circuits (ii)
4.1.PCB manufacturing: Chapter structure
4.1.1.Introduction: History of traditional PCBs
4.1.2.Conventional PCB manufacturing
4.1.3.Manufacturing of PCBs concentrated in APAC
4.1.4.Key areas for sustainability within PCBs
4.1.5.Sustainable materials for PCB manufacturing
4.2.PCB Design Options
4.2.1.Introduction: Design options for PCBs
4.2.2.Double-sided and multi-layered PCBs allow extra complexity and reduce board size
4.2.3.Flexible PCBs require new innovation
4.2.4.Moving away from rigid PCBs will enable new applications
4.2.5.An introduction to in-mold electronics
4.2.6.IME manufacturing process flow
4.2.7.Motivation and challenges for IME
4.2.8.How sustainable is IME?
4.2.9.IME can reduce plastic usage by more than 50 %
4.2.10.Key takeaways: PCB design options
4.3.Substrate Choices
4.3.1.Introduction: Substrate choices
4.3.2.FR4 uses toxic halogenated substances
4.3.3.Legislation on halogenated substances is becoming more restrictive
4.3.4.Halogens pose significant health and safety threat as electronics become smaller
4.3.5.Halogen-free FR4 presents numerous advantages
4.3.6.Household names adopting low or halogen-free technology
4.3.7.HP working with Clariant to develop halogen-free electronics from recycled materials
4.3.8.SWOT Analysis: Halogen-free FR4
4.3.9.Bio-based printed circuit boards
4.3.10.Switching to bio-based PCBs involves new optimization
4.3.11.Challenges facing bio-plastics
4.3.12.Polyimide is the leading non-FR4 alternative
4.3.13.Application areas for flexible (bio) polyimide PCBs
4.3.14.(Bio)polyimide could be the material of the future for flexible electronics
4.3.15.PET is much more cost-effective than PI
4.3.16.Jiva has developed the first fully recyclable bio-based PCB
4.3.17.Microsoft working on sustainable PCBs
4.3.18.Dell's Concept Luna laptop using flax-based PCBs
4.3.19.Paper-based PCBs could be an environmentally friendly and low-cost solution
4.3.20.Arjowiggins printing circuits onto paper
4.3.21.SWOT Analysis: Bio-based materials
4.3.22.Market status of FR4 alternatives
4.3.23.Innovation opportunities for FR4 alternatives
4.3.24.Sustainability index: PCB substrates
4.3.25.Key takeaways: FR4 alternatives
4.4.Patterning and Metallization
4.4.1.Introduction: Patterning and metallisation
4.4.2.Conventional metallization is wasteful and harmful
4.4.3.Common etchants pose environmental hazards
4.4.4.Etchant regeneration could make wet etching more sustainable
4.4.5.Dry phase patterning removes sustainable hurdles associated with wet etching
4.4.6.Print-and-plate could revolutionize PCB manufacturing
4.4.7.Sustainability benefits of print-and-plate
4.4.8.Print-and-plate for in-mold printed circuits
4.4.9.Laser induced forward transfer (LIFT): Combining the best of inkjet and laser direct structuring
4.4.10.Operating mechanism of laser induced forward transfer (LIFT)
4.4.11.Target applications for laser induced forward transfer
4.4.12.Copper inks more sustainable and cost-effective than silver
4.4.13.Copper inks with in-situ oxidation prevention
4.4.14.Formaldehyde alternative for green electroless plating
4.4.15.Innovation opportunities for patterning and metallisation processes
4.4.16.Sustainability index: Patterning and Metallisation Processes
4.4.17.Sustainability index: Patterning and Metallisation Materials
4.4.18.Key takeaways: Patterning and metallization
4.5.Component Attachment Materials and Processes
4.5.1.Introduction: Component attachment materials
4.5.2.Comparing component attachment types
4.5.3.Introduction: Limitations of conventional lead-free solder
4.5.4.Low-temperature soldering and adhesives reduces energy and enables new technology
4.5.5.Low temperature solder alloys
4.5.6.Low temperature solder enables thermally fragile substrates
4.5.7.Substrate compatibility with existing infrastructure
4.5.8.Low temperature solder could perform as well as conventional solder
4.5.9.Low temperature solder may increase cost per PCB by extending reflow times
4.5.10.SAFI-Tech's innovative supercooled liquid solder
4.5.11.SWOT Analysis: Low temperature solder
4.5.12.Electrically conductive adhesives - a component attachment material for fully flexible electronics?
4.5.13.Key ECA innovations reduce silver content
4.5.14.ECAs in in-mold electronics (IME)
4.5.15.ECA curing may be more energy efficient than low temperature solder reflow
4.5.16.SWOT Analysis: ECAs
4.5.17.Market readiness of different solders and ECAs
4.5.18.ECAs vs low temperature solder
4.5.19.Innovation opportunities: Component attachment materials
4.5.20.Sustainability index: Component attachment materials
4.5.21.Key takeaways: Component attachment materials
4.5.22.Introduction: Curing and reflow processes
4.5.23.Thermal processing can be slow and time consuming
4.5.24.UV curing of ECAs could lower heat
4.5.25.Photonic sintering/curing could enable cheaper production and reduce factory size
4.5.26.Near-infrared radiation can dry in seconds
4.5.27.Market readiness of component attachment processes
4.5.28.Sustainability index: Component attachment processes
4.5.29.Key takeaways: Component attachment processes
4.6.End of Life - Disposal and Recycling
4.6.1.Introduction: End of life
4.6.2.Etchant produces largest amount of hazardous waste
4.6.3.Recovery of copper oxide from waste water slurry is effective but inefficient
4.6.4.Print-and-plate could save PCB industry 200 million litres of water annually
4.6.5.VTT's life cycle assessment of in-mold electronics
4.6.6.IME vs reference component kg CO₂ equivalent (single IME): Cradle to gate
4.6.7.IME vs reference component kg CO₂ equivalent (10,000 IME panels): Cradle to grave
4.6.8.Summary of VTT's life cycle assessment
4.6.9.Key takeaways: End of life
5.1.IC manufacturing: Chapter structure
5.1.1.Conventional integrated circuit manufacturing
5.1.2.Key areas for sustainability within IC manufacturing
5.2.Wafer Production
5.2.1.Introduction to wafer production for ICs
5.2.2.Conventional silicon wafer production
5.2.3.Ingot sawing costs industry billions in lost silicon and wasted energy
5.2.4.Innovation within the silicon PV industry could benefit integrated circuits
5.2.5.Gallium nitride is more sustainable and lower cost than silicon
5.2.6.Gallium nitride not susceptible to chip shortage concerns
5.2.7.SWOT analysis: Gallium nitride ICs
5.2.8.PragmatIC developing thin film alternatives to silicon with 1000x lower embedded energy
5.2.9.SWOT analysis: PragmatIC's flexible ICs
5.2.10.Fully printed organic ICs are in early stage development
5.2.11.SWOT analysis: Organic ICs
5.2.12.Sustainability index: Wafer production
5.2.13.Key takeaways: Wafer manufacturing
5.3.1.Introduction to oxidation
5.3.2.Recycling acid etchants reduces highly toxic waste and increases supply chain security
5.3.3.Thinner gate oxides reduce time and energy consumption during oxidation
5.3.4.Metal oxides could replace silicon oxide in the future
5.3.5.Solution-based hafnium oxide could reduce fabrication time
5.3.6.Market readiness of oxide options
5.3.7.Sustainability index: Oxidation
5.3.8.Key takeaways: Oxidation
5.4.Patterning and Surface Doping
5.4.1.Introduction: Patterning and surface doping
5.4.2.Wet chemical etching is the most conventional method but wasteful
5.4.3.Dry (plasma) etching could provide long-term savings and reduce toxic waste
5.4.4.Nano OPS' 'fab in a tool' could cut IC costs by 2 orders of magnitude
5.4.5.Surface doping - room for improvement?
5.4.6.Sustainability index: Patterning
5.4.7.Key takeaways: Patterning and doping
5.5.1.Introduction: Metallization
5.5.2.The return of metal gates may increase costs
5.5.3.Due diligence restrictions on tantalum sourcing imposed by EU policy
5.5.4.Printed metal gates for organic thin film transistors
5.5.5.Physical vapour deposition may be the best choice for copper interconnects
5.5.6.Sustainability index: Metallization
5.5.7.Key takeaways: Metallization
5.6.End of Life
5.6.1.Introduction: End of life
5.6.2.One third of emissions from the electronics industry are produced by integrated circuits
5.6.3.Increasing renewable energy can result in substantial emissions reductions
5.6.4.Early testing minimizes waste
5.6.5.Water conservation increasing among major players
5.6.6.Samsung operating global take-back schemes
5.6.7.Key takeaways: End of life
6.4.DP Patterning
6.14.Sunray Scientific

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Report Statistics

Slides 220
Companies 17
Forecasts to 2033
ISBN 9781915514318

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