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Bottom line: The ongoing semiconductor shortage is quickly snowballing into an all-out component shortage, highlighting just how fragile the supply chain really is. Copper is the latest commodity to be in short supply, and it could drive the price of all sorts of electronics north.
DigiTimes (paywalled, per Tom’s Hardware) is reporting that copper foil used to make printed circuit boards continues to be in short supply, and that suppliers are encountering rising costs as a result. As such, one has to wonder how much of the cost burden will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices for electronics.
A quick look at the market for copper reveals a selling price of $7,845.40 per ton near the end of December 2020. Today, the commodity is going for $9,262.85 per ton, an increase of $1,417.45 per ton over the past nine months.
According to Tom’s, the price of copper foil has surged 35 percent since Q4 due to the rising cost of copper and energy production. This, in turn, is increasing the cost of PCBs. Further exacerbating the situation are other industries that are also increasingly relying on copper. The publication has a full breakdown of the current cost of copper foil rolls, how many ATX boards a single roll can produce, and so on, for those that wish to dig deeper into the economics of the situation.
While it’s possible that all sorts of electronics could see price hikes as a result, products like motherboards and graphics cards could be hit the hardest as they use large PCBs with a high layer count. In this subset, it would likely be budget hardware where the price difference would be felt the most. High-end motherboards, for example, already carry a significant premium, and manufacturers would likely be more willing to absorb a small price hike at this tier.