The popularity of flexible printed circuit boards has exceeded all industry expectations. Thanks to technology improvement, flexible PCB production is on a whole new level of quality today.
In this article, we are trying to answer what makes flex boards so popular among users. Take a look at some crucial characteristics of flexible boards, and discover if they are the right fit for your application!
Flexibility – the Core Characteristic of a Flexible PCB
You can guess the main characteristics of flexible printed circuit boards from their name. It is their flexibility that makes them stand out from the other boards.
Depending on their level of flexibility, we can divide printed circuit boards into three different categories:
- Rigid PCBs
- Flex-rigid boards
- WellPCB offers DC motor controllers in both domestic and international markets. We have a Flexible boards
Rigid boards are the “ordinary” units that were the only industry option for a long time. Rigid-flex PCBs are mostly standard and flexible boards, and flexible PCBs have the highest flexibility level.
1.1. Why Is There a Need for Flexible PCBs?
Rigid boards worked fine, but the increase in technology products and their new specifications led to new demands across the industries. Wearable technology particularly inspired the necessity of bendy boards, which don’t take a lot of room.
Flexible PCBs turned out to be a logical solution. The industry did everything in its power to develop the design and ensure the necessary technologies to facilitate the creation of boards that will be as bendy as necessary.
Today, you can see flexible boards in numerous industries and applications. Personal electronic devices are the one that uses these boards the most, including smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, etc. However, other sectors quickly realized the versatility and usability of flexible PCBs, too. The flexibility feature is the one that gives exceptional design freedom and optimizes the performance and size of products.
The Importance of Reduced Size and Weight
It is not only about offering flexibility because flexible PCBs also bring other benefits compared to standard boards. Another main characteristic is compact size and weight.
The general rule is that flex boards are smaller than ordinary units. They utilize HDI (high-density interconnect) technology, which enables them to fit more components in less space.
It is crucial to mention that it doesn’t affect its performance negatively. On the contrary, the boards perform even better and are more reliable than standard units. The reduced size is only an added benefit as flexible PCBs can fit into a compact space.
Don’t forget that you can also bend them, which means you can position them in even the smallest sections. That can be a crucial factor in minimizing the device’s device’s device’s overall size, regardless of how you plan to use it.
The estimated space reduction that a flexible board offers is about 50%, and the improvements are even better for weight reduction. According to estimations, flex PCBs can be up to 95% lighter than the regular units. Of course, that will depend on the materials you use and the desired applications. However, you will inevitably have a light board at your disposal.
About the Durability And Reliability of Flexible PCBs
All those stories about small and lightweight boards sound nice, but you might worry about their reliability and durability. The good news is that you can notice apparent improvements in these areas, too.
Flexible boards do not require interface connections for starters for starters, such as contact crimps, connectors, and solder joints. These PCBs also feature a low quantity of interconnections, which minimizes the risk of components failing. That is something that boosts the reliability of the boards.
3.1. Are Flexible Printed Circuit Boards Durable?
The reduced weight and circuit’s flexibility should provide improved shock and vibration resistance when it comes to durability. That should support the performance and enhance the strength of the board.
Polyimide is usually the base substrate material manufacturers use for flexible PCBs. That material is famous for its impressive thermal stability. The overall durability of the board will depend on the materials you choose. But if you choose smartly, you can rest assured that your PCB will be a long-term investment.
Ifneed any help choosing the material or setting other details of your flexible board, feel free to contact WellPCB. The company has an experienced team of engineers ready to help you resolve any dilemma regarding printed circuit boards.
Thanks to the skilled staff and modern equipment, WellPCB can also rise to the challenge and manufacture any flexible PCB regardless of its complexity. The company is proud of providing exceptional service and quick turnaround times at affordable rates.
You need to Know About Extreme Temperature Applications
We already mentioned that polyimide has fantastic thermal stability. Thanks to that, flexible boards are capable of handling extreme temperatures. Additionally, that makes them a better option for surface mounting than conventional PCBs. They put less stress on soldered joints, which reduces the chances of a thermal mismatch occurring.
When we say extreme temperatures, we are not only thinking of high heat. Although flexible boards will usually perform well in temperatures up to 400C, they can also maintain optimal performance if as low as -200C.
It is also vital to mention excellent heat dissipation, whichde outperforms dielectric materials usually applied in standard boards, which is another essential characteristic of a flexible PCB.
Some other features of polyimide include minimal contraction and expansion, as well as resistance to acid, oils, gasses, and other chemicals. Additionally, flexible boards have excellent resistance to UV exposure and radiation.
Flexible PCB, the Cost Factor you Have to Consider
Imagine this scenario – you have a small and light printed circuit board. It has a smaller size than an ordinary PCB, which implies that you utilize fewer materials for it. Therefore, its overall price is lower than for a standard unit. The fact that your overall material requirements are relatively small should keep the costs reasonable.
When you consider the costs, you shouldn’t forget about what you get in return. As we figured out in the article, the characteristics of flexible boards include excellent performance, reliability, durability, andy. If you look at things like that, you realize that their cost is more than affordable.
Minimized Error Room and Quick Turnaround
If your design is flawless, you will reduce room for errors during the assembly process. That is something you already know, but it is an essential factor, and that is why we are mentioning it.
Apart from that, we can thank automated production for reducing the risk of errors during the assembly. There is virtually no human involvement, which is why room for mistakes is down to a minimum. The only errors that can happen are machine failures.
All the things mentioned above will speed up turnaround times for flexible printed circuit boards. Automation and the fact that you don’t have to fix errors (in most cases) accelerates the entire process. That is particularly useful for clients planning to order a large number of PCBs. Automation is at the heart of mass production efficiency, reaching a whole new level.
Different Flexible PCB Types
We can divide flexible PCBs into several categories depending on their complexity.
Here is their overview:
A single access layout that leaves one of the teams uncovered. Single-sided flexible PCBs: You have two subcategories here, a dual access design that allows you to utilize the conductive copper (or another material) from both sides. You can also add stiffeners, pins, and connectors if necessary.
• Double-sided flexible PCBs: Here, you have a polyimide insulation layer set between a couple of layers with a conductive material. You can place copper pads or other covers on the outer sides if necessary. The design support stiffeners, pins, and connectors.
• Multi-layer flexible PCBs: It is the most intricate design, but an extremely versatile one. It requires combining one and two-sided circuits. You should have at least three layers with conductive materials, and layers with insulation should be between them. The experts recommend placing covers. You can choose from a wide variety of designs, but the chances are these PCBs will fit even the most demanding requirements.
It is worth noting that you can also go with boards that are not entirely flexible. These are flex and rigid circuit boards which are connected to one another permanently. When rigid-flex boards, and their design is different. They feature a couple of layers with a conductive material, as well as a layer with insulation bacterial between them. However, you can feel free to mix and match flexible and rigid insulation layers depending on your needs.
Wne covered the characteristics of flexible printed circuit boards in this article. They are a step forward compared to standard rigid units. Flexible PCBs ensure consistent performance and reliability even in extreme temperatures.
Their flexibility is why you can use them for a wide range of applications across various industries. If you think these boards are the right choice for your next project, don’t hesitate to place an order and test them yourself!