When are Flex Circuits the Right Solution?
Flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) are often able to solve packaging issues when rigid PCBs can’t and are among the top PCB trends of 2021. They can help you manufacture a wide range of devices from watches to robotic arms. In fact, the global market for flexible PCBs is projected to grow by more than 11% by 2025. Whether you need to meet partial or full flexing requirements, it’s critical to find a flexible PCB tailored to your manufacturing needs. This brings us to an important question: when are flex circuits the right solution? Read on to learn about the factors you should consider when choosing a PCB that best fits your product prototype.
Static vs Dynamic Applications
There are two types of applications found in flexible PCBs. Both of them serve distinct purposes:
- Static applications: These applications are composed of electro deposited (ED) copper and contain circuits with limited flexing. They are also referred to as “flex-to-fit” or “flex-to-install.”
- Dynamic applications: Unlike static applications, dynamic applications contain circuits with unlimited flexing. These PCBs are made with rolled annealed (RA) copper to ensure maximum flexibility and compatibility with a wider range of devices.
Benefits of Using Flex Circuits
Rigid PCBs and static applications work effectively for some devices. For example, they allow manufacturers to produce circuit boards fitted for simple device designs. However, today’s devices are becoming smaller and more complex. A one-size-fits-all approach to powering prototypes no longer works. That’s where flex circuits come in. Some solutions that flex circuits offer include:
- Better fitting properties: Flexible PCBs are designed to bend in multiple directions and fit into more complex spaces. They can be the sole source of circuitry or they can connect to rigid PCBs to meet flexibility requirements.
- Lighter than rigid PCBs: Weight is often a factor that affects product quality and usability. The thin design of flexible PCBs provides a lightweight solution for device prototyping.
- Fewer connections required: Flex circuits often require fewer connections. They can also reduce the number of wires and soldering points you will need.
- Cost-effective: With fewer required materials and connections, flex circuits can be produced in high volumes.
- Better thermal capabilities: Rigid PCBs can typically withstand temperatures up to 288℃ for as long as 20 seconds. However, flexible PCBs can withstand temperatures between -200° C and 400° C.
Let Sonic Manufacturing Find a Flex Circuit Solution That Works for Your Product
No matter how simple or complex your prototype is, the PCB experts at Sonic Manufacturing can help you find the right solution. We offer a wide range of services including new product introduction, prototyping, board layout and engineering, and PCB assembly and manufacturing.
Sonic Manufacturing brings more than 20 years of experience to the table. From our offices in Fremont, we proudly serve Bay Area clients in San Jose, Oakland, and Silicon Valley.
Contact us online, call (510) 560-3262, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help you find the right PCB.