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What is a Flexible PCB Board?

Flexible PCB Board

A flex circuit is a printed circuit board that can be folded or bent into the shape of your desired device. They are thin and lightweight compared to rigid PCBs and can withstand the stresses of daily use. They also provide the flexibility of connecting to other devices without the need for bulky wire harness cables or connectors. Moreover, a flex circuit is designed to be durable and can withstand repeated bending and the occurrence of vibrations or shocks.

Flex PCBs are used in a wide variety of applications. These include medical appliances, swallowable pill cameras, gastroscopy devices, and glass hearing aids. They can be bended up to 500 million times without affecting their performance. They are also used in cars, aircraft, and spacecraft. In addition, a flex circuit can also be incorporated into complex devices that require high performance and durability.

The underlying material of a flexible pcb is a Polyimide or FR4 substrate that is bonded to copper traces. The traces are then soldered onto the substrate using a process called etching. A layer of dielectric or shielding is applied to the traces to prevent electromagnetic interference. The final product is a thin, durable circuit board that can bend and flex without damaging the copper or the dielectric.

What is a Flexible PCB Board?

When designing a flex PCB, it is important to consider the design rules and requirements. These are different from those of a rigid PCB, and include the thickness of the layers, the presence or absence of plated through holes, and the choice of finish. Some finishes are more expensive than others, so it is best to consult your manufacturer to find out what is available and what will fit within the design rules.

One way to decrease cost is by reducing the number of layers in the flex PCB. However, this is not always possible. In these cases, you can increase the thickness of the copper traces or use different trace widths. You can also add a mechanical stiffener to the flex circuit, which will increase its strength and elasticity. This will help reduce cracking when the board is bended.

In general, a flex circuit will be more costly than a rigid PCB because of the additional processes and materials required to make it. In addition, the amount of human interaction is higher with a flex circuit, which increases the costs. A webinar from Epec Engineered Technologies on Youtube shows a rough comparison between manufacturing a rigid and flex PCB from the steps involved to the amount of material required.

Another tip to reduce the cost of a flex PCB is to avoid having unnecessary areas that will have no impact on the circuit’s function. A flex circuit can be made with special openings for surface mount components, but these should not be covered by solder mask or coverlay. It is also a good idea to use hatched polygons instead of solid ones in the areas that are expected to be bended, as this will increase the strength of the traces and provide greater tear resistance.

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