Hi Fellas! We welcome you on board. We love to keep you updated with useful information that matches with your needs and expectations and helps you stand out of the party. I am back to give you daily dose of useful and relevant information so you can excel and grow in your field. Today, I am going to uncover the details on the Introduction to Flexible PCB. It is type of PCB, also known as flex PCB, which can be bent, twisted and folded into any shape. You can also have a look at Different types of PCBs, so you know what types of PCBs are available in the market and you can pick best one based on your needs and requirements. I’ll try to guide you with each and everything related to flexible PCB so you get a clear idea what is this about and what makes it stand out from other boards? Let’s dive in and explore the properties of flexible PCB one by one.
- Almost everyone is familiar with the word PCB, some of you who are not, it is a acronym of printed circuit board which uses lines, tracks or paths incorporated on a single board to connect multiple components together.
- Paths or tracks are made up of copper foil which is laminated on a substrate material which is mainly composed of epoxy glass resin.
- Technology has taken a new turn with the advent of some advanced components in terms of their ease of use and availability.
- Flexible PCB is a type of PCB which can be bent, folded or twisted into many configuration based on your needs and requirements.
- It is an incredible addition in electronics industry which is little bit costly as compared to rigid PCBs, but comes with more benefits i.e occupies less space and carries less weight.
- Flexible PCBs are very diverse in nature when it comes to their names used in electronic industry. They are referred as flex circuits, flex electronics, flex printed circuit board and flexible circuit boards.
- Flex nature, less space and less weight allows the flexible PCB to fit in the circuits where using rigid or other circuits boards can be damaging and waste of both time and money.
- In some exceptions both flexible and rigid PCBs are incorporated together to produce a unified product. You can term that product as a Rigid Flex PCB.
- One incredible feature that makes flexible PCB an ideal choice for most of the professionals is that it eradicates the use of components like wire harnesses, connectors and other circuits.
- In terms of cost we don’t always refer to the overall cost of the whole project. It is highly possible projects that make use of flexible PCB are less expensive than the projects that use rigid PCBs, but individual cost of manufacturing flexible PCBs is more than rigid PCBs.
- Flexible PCBs are an ideal choice for high performance ultra compact devices such as GPS control, wearable, and tablets.
- Achieving greater sophistication and compactness is not the ultimate goal of using flex PCBs, they also come with a benefit of easy instillation in most of the low tech applications.
- There are some extra measures which need to be taken into consideration before making flexible PCB; flexibility embedded in flex material must be not too flex or too rigid that it breaks the PCB when it is folded or twisted around the corners.
Fabrication and Tooling
- Manufacturing rigid or flexible PCBs almost involve identical technology and steps with some exceptions when it comes to handling the base material.
- Rigid PC board is relatively easy to handle and manufacture while processing a flexible PCB requires some measurements and protocols because it needs special clamping and material handling system to hold the entire material at one place during manufacturing.
- Some complex high volume flexible products make use of reel to reel technology which involves different material handling mechanism.
- So, we can conclude that processing a flexible PCB is little bit more costly than manufacturing rigid PCB because it requires some extra steps to handle the material properly right from the start till the process is completed. If you intend to make your own PCB design, you can make use of any of these top 10 PCB designing software
- Almost similar tooling is used in both flexible and rigid PCB but major difference arises when it comes to cutline definition.
- Flexible boards can be transformed into multiple configurations that ultimately produce weird random shapes.
- However, rigid boards are mostly rectangular which results in curved outline routered.
- This is the reason, for producing high volumes products, hard too dies and steel rule dies are more useful for flexible boards than rigid boards.
- Another major area where rigid board differs flexible PCB is fixturing which is essential to deal with flexible substrate.
Flex Circuit Overlay
- Flex Circuit Overlay, also know as coverlay, is referred as a lamination process which is widely used to protect and encapsulate the external circuitry of flex circuit.
- The protected film used in flex circuitry is very similar to rigid PCB solder mask with one exception; the protective film is flexible.
- Thermostat adhesive is coated on protective film to give it a solid look that is equally distributed all over the film surface and combines all material at one place.
- Protective film thickness ranges from .0005″ to .005″, however, .001″ and .002″ are most common thickness used in many applications.
- The polymide and adhesive layers are laminated together when they subject to high temperature and pressure, which allow the adhesive layer to cover all gaps between traces and lines and provide a gateway to connect different components together.
- Flexible PCBs widely replace rigid PCBs in many cases where flexibility, space saving and less weight are top priorities. You can also get advantage of online PCB design service, here are top online PCB design services.
- A very common example of flexible board is computer keyboard which makes use of flex boards for the switch matrix.
- Most flexible boards are more like a passive wiring structure which are used to connect different components including capacitors, resistors, integrated circuits and other components, however, they can be connected to other electronic structures using connectors.
- Moving print head of printers make use of flexible circuits that provide a path way to connect signal with moving arm of the disk drive.
- Many consumer electronics are incorporated with flexible circuits including calculators, cameras, personal entertainment devices and exercise monitors.
- Flexible solar cells is another addition in the field of flexible electronics which are light weight, can be folded or twisted in to any shape, and mainly used for power satellites.
That’s all for today. I hope you have found this article useful. Keep updated us with your feedback and suggestions, they allow us to give you quality work that resonates with your expectations If you have any question you can ask me in the comment section below. I’d love to help you according to best of my expertise. Last not least, if you are interested in embedded system, then making PCB design would be easy using Proteus Ares. Thanks for reading the article. Stay Tuned!