Silicon Valley Mercury News visits Taiwan to better understand role of handset FPCB solder masks
Press release [Friday 14 September 2012]
San Jose Mercury News, an influential English-language newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area, was established in 1983 through the merger of San Jose Mercury (founded in 1851) and San Jose News (founded in 1883) and was the world's first newspaper to provide online news services. The media outlet was also recognized by the Society for News Design in 2001 as one of the top-five best designed newspapers worldwide. The newspaper's well-known global business reporter John Boudreau, with assistance from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently visited Taiwan to check on the ecosystem of the world-renowned smartphone and tablet PC supply chain.
Invited by Apple and Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), Mercury News journalist John Boudreau visited Foxconn's Shenzhen plants and provided complete and in-depth coverage of the facility in May this year. His trip to Taiwan was aimed at gaining a comprehensive understanding the roles of Taiwan IT companies, and their importance in the supply chain ecosystem.
Due to the increasingly fierce competition between Samsung Electronics and Apple, the journalist was highly curious about how the powerful alliance of Taiwan-based players within the supply chain - from product assembly to the manufacture of components such as touchscreen panels, printed circuit boards (PCB), flexible printed circuit boards (FPCB), FPCB solder masks, reinforced glass, metal frames and connectors - are able to affect the outcome of the competition. He was also eager to find out how the added value of critical Taiwan suppliers can influence brand competition.
During his visit to supply-chain companies, the Mercury News reporter spent a morning visiting TeamChem Company, located in Taoyuan, Taiwan. TeamChem is a supplier of special materials used in LCD panels, smartphones and tablet PCs. The company provides products such as FPCB solder masks and low-temperature lamination ACF (Anisotropic Conductive Film).
The Mercury News journalist John Boudreau was quite surprised to find that an FPCB solder mask can help improve the flexibility of FPCBs, and through a demonstration by TeamChem CEO Dr. Todd Yeh, he learned that in addition to requiring high flexibility, an FPCB solder mask had to pass various rigorous tests to ensure the FPCB can function reliably in any smartphone.
Commenting on the design trend of smartphones that puts an emphasis on devices becoming thinner and lighter, Dr. Todd Yeh of TeamChem said he believes that replacing metal connections with ACFs is a viable technological development. TeamChem is currently marketing a new low-temperature ACF that can be laminated at a temperature of 100-degrees Celsius. In the near future, when smartphones and tablet PCs are designed with a flexible form, low-temperature ACFs will be able to be applied onto PET thin-films, whose costs are quite low.
The Taiwan-based Central News Agency (CNA) reported on September 11, that the professional display research firm, DisplaySearch, pointed out the LCD panel supply chain started heating up for supplying Apple products including the iPhone 5, iPad Mini and next-generation iPad in early July and the momentum is expected to extend through the end of 2012. Players in the LCD panel supply chain that are manufacturing products for Apple include Corning, Japan Display, LG Display, Sharp, AU Optronics (AUO), Chimei Innolux (CMI), Samsung, Radiant Opto-Electronics, Coretronic, TPK, Wintek and Foxconn. Taiwan component suppliers are expected to make a significant contribution to Apple in terms of efficiency, quality, flexibility and real-time service.
Mercury News Reporter John Boudreau interviews TeamChem