Two tendencies are notable: on the one hand, Western European companies are externalising their functions and searching for skilled specialists from Eastern Europe; on the other hand, Bulgaria is attempting to internationalise the ICT sector and electronics industry and attract foreign investors. The situation sounds like a perfect match. We have the resources backing the Bulgarian ambitions? We believe international companies will support the industry's indigenous development and technology transfer.

The South-East European Industrial Мarket Survey "Electronics manufacturing industry in Bulgaria" presents the results of an extensive survey organized by South-East European INDUSTRIAL Market magazine, to the main manufacturers of electronic products on the Bulgarian market. The purpose of the survey is to outline the current status and trends of the Bulgarian electronics industry. Advanced manufacturing technologies, experienced work force and low competitive scenario are positioning Bulgaria as a key electronics manufacturing hub in Europe.

The country is increasingly being preferred by many electronics assemblers and is set to emerge as one of the key recipients of foreign direct investments in electronics industry. Most of the companies in the branch are small or medium-sized enterprises, generally export oriented. Their production serves industrial, automotive, medical, telecommunications, military, lighting, security, defense, renewable and conventional energy equipment and consumer electronics markets. The majority of manufacturers have quality management systems applied. One of the main characteristic of Bulgarian electronics manufacturers is that many OEM companies, which develop and manufacture their own products, offer EMS services to other Bulgarian and foreign clients.

The survey results point out that 62% of the respondents are equipped with automatic machines or assembly lines, 54% have semi-automatic assembly equipment, and 80% perform manual assembly too. Regarding the soldering technologies, widely used is reflow process (62% of respondents), followed by wave soldering (46%) and selective soldering (25%). Manual soldering is carried out at 80% of companies. The most widely used testing procedure is functional test (at 85% of respondents), followed by optical inspection (56%), in-circuit testing (50%) and automatic optical inspection (29%). Only three of the participating in the survey companies are carrying out X-ray inspection.

Components and equipment for the electronics manufacturing industry are also broadly produced in Bulgaria. Most widely spread is the manufacture of PCBs, electromechanics, passives, connectors and mechanical components, but there are also producers of hybrid ICs, microelectronic components, sensors and development tools, design centers etc. Unique is probably the only company in the region, producing automatic placement machines, stencil printers and other SMT equipment.

Тhis first of its kind study on Bulgarian electronics industry will benefit both the participating companies, manufacturers and suppliers of components, equipment and materials, serving the electronic industry. Presented on the following pages results thereof may be the prerequisite for the expansion of B2B contacts between Bulgarian producers and their foreign partners.

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