Laptop computers are among the many electronic devices using multilayer laminates to increase circuit density.
HEXCEL HAS OPERATED in the structural fabrics industry since 1967, when the company acquired Coast Manufacturing and Supply. Hexcel’s position in this industry was strengthened in the 1980s, when it acquired Stevens-Genin, one of Europe’s leading weavers and prepreggers of fiberglass fabrics.
Since the 1980s, Hexcel light weight fiberglass fabrics have been marketed to the European electronics and telecommunications industries to strengthen the laminates used in printed circuit boards (PCBs). And in 1998, Hexcel built further on its existing growth platform in electronic fabrics with the acquisition of the Clark-Schwebel electronic fabrics business.
Printed circuit boards are used in literally thousands of electronics and telecommunications applications –including personal and mainframe computers, printers, cellular telephones, automotive electronics, advanced cable television equipment, personal communications devices, network servers and many others.
Fiberglass electronic materials are ideal for use in electronics and telecommunications applications, for several reasons, apart from their low cost: Strength, dimensional stability, temperature resistance, electrical properties, thermal conductivity and resistance to moisture and chemicals.
E x i s t i n g G r o w t h P l a t f o r m
With the acquisition of Clark-Schwebel, Hexcel was able to build on its existing growth platform in electronic fabrics in Europe. As a result of the acquisition, Hexcel established a global leadership position in fiberglass electronic materials. Prior to the acquisition, these materials accounted for about 65 percent of Clark-Schwebel’s US sales.
Today, Hexcel is the world’s leading producer of fiberglass electronic materials. Beyond wholly owned operations in the US and in France, the company’s global reach is enhanced by joint ventures in Europe and the Pacific Rim, as well as the US. Including these three joint ventures, Hexcel enjoys global market leadership, with an approximate 50 percent market share in the US and significant market shares in Europe and the Pacific Rim. The company’s strong global leadership position stems from its comprehensive product offering and its broad range of product technology.
Market conditions softened during 1998 in the electronics and telecommunications industries due to inventory adjustments throughout the electronics supply base. Demand has now improved in these markets, but pricing is under pressure as Asian and Eastern European producers with excess capacity seek outlets for their products in western markets.
T r e n d T o w a r d M i n i a t u r i z a t i o n
The trend towards miniaturization has fueled demand for multilayer PCBs, which require lightweight, higher quality fiberglass fabrics. Demand for these multilayer PCBs is growing faster than the PCB market overall, and lightweight fiberglass electronic materials accounted for over half of Hexcel’s fabric sales in 1998.
Hexcel Schwebel’s goal is to be the most effective global supplier of these electronic materials by capitalizing on global marketing relationships, enhancing global purchasing power, rationalizing worldwide fabrics operations and providing superior service and technical support to our customers.