In the world of electronics, you often encounter seemingly new technologies. Some of them have their roots in the past. The technology of rigid-flex PCBs goes back almost fifty years. Scientists, back then, required replacements for wiring harnesses in space-crafts. The very first commercially available mobile computer weighed slightly more than twenty-five pounds. Its manufacturers resorted to the use of rigid-flex technologies to create it. Today, every gadget that you see contains rigid-flex PCBs in it. Laptops, tablets, desktops, wearable technologies, test equipment, and even satellites have PCBs in them. Naturally, you can’t help but marvel at the purposefulness of printed cise 4bnm,/0rcuit boards.
About Rigid-flex PCBs
Rigid-flex PCBs contain flexible circuit as well as rigid circuit substrates laminated together. Rigid-flex PCBs surpass traditional rigid PCBs in terms of purposes and abilities. The flexible printed circuit board manufacturers infuse them with unique properties. They possess high flexibility along with rolled annealed copper conductors. Manufacturers photo-etch them on a flexible insulating film. Flex circuits further include stack-ups prepared from a flexible polyimide like Norton or Kapton and copper. Manufacturers laminate them together via heat, acrylic adhesives, and pressure. Like conventional PCBs, you can mount constituents on either side of the rigid board. Due to the integration that occurs between flex and inflexible circuits, a rigid-flex design doesn’t require connectors between sections.
Various design rules
Different challenges offset the flexibility and versatility which allow you to create three-dimensional designs and products. Conventional models of rigid-flex PCBs let you mount connectors, components, and the chassis of the product. Then again, in terms of traditional designs, flexible circuits serve as an interconnector while improving shock resistance and lowering mass. The designs of new products, coupled with improved flex circuit technologies, led to the creation of unique design rules. The flexible printed circuit board manufacturers adhere to these norms. The designers now have the freedom to use new components on the flexible area of a PCB. With this freedom and a multi-layer approach, manufacturers can add more circuitry to the designs.
If you turn your attention towards designing flexible PCBs, then you should think in terms of electromechanical elements. They affect both the rigid board and the flex circuit. When you build your design, you should focus on the ratio of thickness to the bend radius. In the case of flex circuits, tight turns and increased widths at the bend area can increase possibilities of failure. Expert designers recommend that keep the bend radius at a minimum. It should be ten times lesser than the thickness of the flex-circuit material. You should also consider building a paper model of the circuit. It will help you determine where the bends will occur.
You need a team
Yes, teamwork is of the utmost importance if you are building rigid-flex PCBs. New design tools provide you and your team the chance to manage multi-layer stacks. You can visualize 3D electromechanical designs, simulate the operation of the boards, and check design rules. Even with the presence of these tools, you can’t proceed without having a team to assist you. Teamwork should begin at the primary stages of the project and continue throughout the design process.