[News] Subsidies from the U.S. Legislation “NAPMP” Potentially Expected to Cover IC Substrates

2024-01-23 Semiconductors editor

The U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated the “National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP) ,” with materials and substrates being the first subsidized areas. Due to the close collaboration between IC testing and IC substrates, it is not ruled out that the IC substrate industry could be the next recipient of subsidies under the U.S. chip legislation.

However, according to Commercial Times’ report, there is a lack of interest among Taiwanese PCB manufacturers in establishing facilities in the U.S., and there are three main reasons for this. 

Firstly, the PCB industry thrives on economies of scale, and the production costs in the U.S. are too high. Taiwanese manufacturers have recently responded to the China Plus One Strategy by establishing facilities in Southeast Asia, making it unlikely for them to set up operations in the U.S.

Secondly, the U.S. is not particularly welcoming to polluting industries, making pure substrate manufacturers more likely candidates. 

Thirdly, domestic PCB manufacturers in the U.S. are also relocating their production lines. If seeking a partnership is necessary, Japanese manufacturers may present a more viable option.

As for potential subsidy recipients, industry experts speculate that one of the more likely beneficiaries could be TTM Technologies, a major PCB manufacturer in the United States. TTM announced in 2023 the establishment of a new facility in the state of New York dedicated to producing HDI PCBs, primarily for military applications in line with U.S. strategic requirements.

The United States plans to invest USD 3 billion in three main areas: an advanced packaging piloting facility, workforce training programs, and funding for projects. The funding is derived from the CHIPS and Science Act, and detailed information on the subsidy program is expected to be announced in early 2024.

In response to this news, the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association pointed out that the conditions for subsidies under the CHIPS and Science Act are stringent. In the past year, the semiconductor supply chain-related companies, led by foundry outsourcing, have started to establish a production presence in the U.S. This includes not only foundries such as TSMC, Samsung, and Intel but also packaging and testing facilities like Amkor and ASE Group.

The association highlighted that IC substrates are part of the semiconductor supply chain, but the more immediate impact is on packaging and testing facilities. If global packaging and testing facilities also take concrete actions to establish operations in the U.S. following the “whole chip” production mindset, the pressure on IC substrate manufacturing will undoubtedly increase. It is not ruled out that the IC substrate industry could be the next focus of the U.S. government’s attention.

While the production scale of IC substrates (or the overall PCB) in the U.S. may not be significant, once categorized as a strategic material, even small-scale production becomes meaningful.

In other words, establishing operations in the U.S. is not solely about scale but rather about companies having the “capability” to produce locally. Reportedly, the industry should pay attention to the future developments in U.S. policy in this regard.

Read more

(Photo credit: iStock)

Please note that this article cites information from Commercial Times.