PCB Electronics manufacturing is facing both challenges and opportunities in 2017. The need to control costs continues to be a priority for manufacturers, while new technologies enter the landscape providing revenue opportunities but requiring manufacturers to partner with technology solutions providers and other organizations that can supply capabilities outside of the company’s core focus.

The nature of electronics manufacturing trends in 2017 is such that every trend comes with along with challenges. Electronics manufacturers will focus on finding ways to capitalize on current trends while balancing the need to control costs, integrate technologies outside of their primary areas of expertise, and meet customer demands for more efficient, eco-friendly manufacturing processes and electronics. Here’s a look at seven of the biggest trends shaping electronics manufacturing in 2017 as well as the challenges each presents.

1. The demand for smart electronics devices continues to rise. 

Smart devices are in demand. Devices like smartphones have been around for years, but look for the same connectivity to become prominent in everything from vehicles to microwaves in 2017. This trend will lead to the development of new partnerships as electronics manufacturers seek technology partners to aid in building in and supporting the connectivity required by smart devices.

“For manufacturers, this opportunity represents tremendous revenue potential,” Ayla Networks explains. “However, the challenge lies in the ability to get secure, scalable connected products into consumer’s hands, when for most manufacturers the connectivity aspect isn’t their core expertise.”

Manufacturers will need to be flexible and adaptable to keep up with constantly evolving electronics demands. According to Infor, an opportunistic mindset in the C-suite is a key advantage. “Manufacturers can take advantage of evolving consumer trends by evolving at the same pace. This means operational changes as well as nurturing an opportunistic mindset among personnel, especially the C-Suite officers,” they explain.

Euromonitor International points out that innovation is the key that prevents a downward spiral in sales across mature product categories such as laptops and televisions, pointing to the need for an innovative, forward-thinking mindset in order to evolve along with always-shifting trends and demands.

2. Pressures mount for green PCB electronics manufacturing.

“Being Green isn’t just for hippies and disaffected Xers any more. As climate change statistics continue to mount, there’s increasing pressure from all areas – consumers, businesses, and governments – to look into more eco-friendly manufacturing solutions. The various carbon cap or carbon trading plans being implemented are also helping to drive this push,” explains RayMing Technology in an article appearing on LinkedIn.

“With major programs being launched to drive research in the field, manufacturing concerns who can get their ISO certifications in place could see a lot of interest, even in countries that aren’t at the low end of the global manufacturing cost scale.”

3. There’s a push for energy-efficient electronics, forcing PWB manufacturers to develop new methods to produce devices that consume less energy.

Environmental concerns are paramount not only during the manufacturing process, but also throughout the lifespan of electronics devices. Reducing energy consumption is an effective way to cut costs, leading both businesses and consumers to opt for energy-efficient electronics. The pressure is on manufacturers to adopt green manufacturing processes while simultaneously producing electronics that are less expensive to use thanks to lower energy demands.

This trend is having a domino effect, contributing to increased demand for related technologies such as global voltage supervisor ICs, according to a report by Technavio analyzing the market for 2017-2024. “This industry research report identifies the increasing demand for energy-efficient devices to be one of the major factors that will have a positive impact on the growth of the power monitor IC market in the coming years,” the report explains. “Increasing power consumption around the globe will induce users to focus on energy conservation by using energy-efficient electronic products. This will consequently drive the demand for voltage supervisor ICs fueling market growth in the coming years.”

4. Medical device technology is a market to watch in 2017.

The field of medicine has always been an early adopter of technology, particularly when it comes to medical devices that improve care delivery or enable patients to manage healthcare needs at home rather than in clinical settings. This is one area in which manufacturing is expected to remain in the U.S., despite other sectors taking advantage of lower manufacturing costs overseas.

“The trend in manufacturing in the US is mostly in high-value-add processes like IC manufacture, medical, or military assembly,” according to an article from Source Research, Inc. “Because these industries inherently need to be close to the manufacture because of the high quality and reliability required for these types of electronic devices, this sector will continue to see growth.”

5. PCB Electronics manufacturing services (EMS) has had steady positive growth, but electronics manufacturing as a whole is expected to have slow growth in early 2017.

Electronics manufacturing overall is expected to experience slow growth in early 2017, according to data published in January 2017 by IPC – Association Connecting Electronics Industries. “Based on three-month rolling averages, printed circuit board (PCB) suppliers growth strengthened but continued negative in November 2016, while the electronics manufacturing s