Flex & Rigid-Flex Circuit Benefits
Flex and rigid-flex circuit technology provides significant additional capabilities above and beyond other available interconnect methods. These include reduced packaging requirements, improved reliability, improved shock and vibe performance, improved high-speed signal performance, improved harsh environment performance, and reduced cost opportunities. These items, either individual or combined, provide valid solutions that solve many of the design challenges experienced throughout the electronics industry.
For the majority of applications, flex and rigid-flex technology allows the circuits to be designed to fit the device rather than designing a device to fit the circuits. In many designs, this also allows the ability to add additional features or capabilities that otherwise may not have been possible due to space constraints.
Below you will find a list of the key benefits and capabilities of utilizing flex and rigid-flex circuit technology. For more information, see our blog post on why you should use flex circuits.
Reduced Package Requirements
- Can be designed to fit where no other interconnect solutions can fit.
- Requires, on average, 10% of the space of comparable wired solutions.
- Has significantly tighter and more reliable bend capabilities than wired solutions.
- Has the same circuit density and precision as rigid PCBs.
- Can be bent, folded, and/or creased, allowing positioning into the smallest of areas allowed for further miniaturization of many applications.
- Allows for 3D packaging geometries, allowing further reductions in packaging requirements.
- Replaces multiple PCBs, connectors, and wiring harnesses with a single integrated unit.
- Eliminates need for multiple connectors, which in turn frees up additional board space or allows reduced board size.
- Rigid-flex circuits are defined as an integrated unit with no additional points of interconnect between separate rigid component areas.
- Integration of flex and rigid PCB significantly reduces the number of points of interconnect required in a design. (i.e. solder joints, connectors, contacts, crimps, etc.).
- Reduced number of interconnects reduces the potential number of failure points within a design.
- Flex circuit's ductility and low mass reduces the impact of vibration and shock and improves performance.
- Exceptional thermal stability of polyimide allows the circuit to withstand extreme heat applications.
- Used extensively in high-reliability military and medical applications.
- Weighs, on average, 10% that of a comparable wired solution.
- Reduces weight of complete design.
- Allows for improved shock/vibe and drop test performance due to reduction in weight.
High Speed Signal Performance
- Flex materials have low DK values: 3.2 to 3.4.
- No variations in DK due to glass weave as found in rigid materials.
- Very consistent and tight tolerance material thicknesses provide very consistent impedance values throughout the design.
- Allows for narrow line widths and spacings to achieve high density circuit routing.
Harsh Environment Performance
- Excellent chemical resistance.
- Impervious to moisture, solvents, oils, acids, and basics.
- Excellent UV exposure resistance.
- Excellent radiation exposure resistance.
- UL94V-0 certified.
- Wide temperature range performance (-200°C to 400°C).
- Very high dielectric withstanding voltage (> 3KV).
- Improved heat dissipation than other dielectric materials.
- Good mechanical strength properties.
- Minimal expansion and contraction are minimized when using polyimide material.
EMI & RF Applications
- Easily shielded against EMI and RF absorption or transmission.
- Multiple shielding options available: EMI shielding films, copper layers, silver ink.
Cost Saving Opportunities
- Reduced packing requirements allow for smaller overall finished assembly size.
- Smaller finished assembly reduces total material requirement costs.
- Reduced the number of parts (connectors) in the final assembled product due to design integration.
- Elimination of connectors allows for reduced board size.
- Simplified assembly process.
- Reduced assembly labor requirements.
- Reduced assembly errors. Flex circuits can only be installed one way.
- Eliminates wire routing errors, reducing test time, rework, and rejects.
- Reduced component assembly requirements. Integrated design assembled in one assembly cycle.
Component & Connector Compatibility
- Accepts any component or connector that can be assembled to a rigid PCB design.
- Includes: high-density BGA, high-density SMT and PTH
- Provides additional interconnect options:
- ZIF Connectors. High-density 1-part connector system
- Crimped contacts
- Direct solder to PCB (e.g. hot bar soldering)