Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are layout data devices that connect electronic components in several non-consumer and consumer devices. Therefore, depending on the applications, design specifications, and manufacturing processes, you can have varied PCB types. For example, there are multilayer, rigid-flex, flexible vs. rigid printed circuits, among others.
For today’s article, we will be elaborating on the differences between a flexible and rigid circuit. You can bend or shape a flexible PCB into a desirable designated system, while a rigid circuity is inflexible.
And so, let’s get to it.
How Are Flexible VS Rigid Circuits Different?
The following features give the notable distinction between flex and rigid circuit boards.
When comparing the two, flexible PCBs have better connectivity between components, other circuit boards, and user interfaces in electronic packaging.
Flexible PCBs can survive extreme environmental conditions since high resistance levels to higher temperatures. However, intense weather changes can warp or damage rigid PCBs.
Manufacturers utilize flexible rolled annealed copper rather than electro-deposited copper as conduction materials. Rigid PCBs don’t require conductive materials. It is because they need to bend the flex circuits.
(flex PCB with copper layer)
The manufacturing process of a flexible printed circuit incorporates a cover-layer of overlay to protect the board’s open circuity. On the other hand, manufacturers use solder masks in the manufacturing process of rigid PCBs.
Rigid PCBs are less costly than flexible PCBs. Nonetheless, consumers prefer flex PCBs because they are malleable and can fit in compact spaces according to the product’s size.
Often, flexible PCBs use a flexible base material, for example, polyimide. Contrarily, rigid PCBs use a higher thickness and strength to reinforce the board, for instance, glass.
For that reason, they both offer different amounts of durability. For example, rigid PCBs can last when absorbing shocks and vibrations, while rigid PCBs are advantageous in high-strength applications.
Sophistication of Design
Printed flex circuits have sophisticated designs and are perfect for applications involving highly complex products. Conversely, rigid PCBs are suitable for simpler consumer devices like musical keyboards or toys.
(Rigid PCB with a simple design)
How to Choose Between Flexible VS Rigid Circuits
While you can easily find flexible and rigid PCBs in many products, they both categorically benefit different operations. For instance, flexible printed circuits are ideal for compact products like wearable technology and smartphones.
(circuit board of a disassembled smartphone)
On the contrary, rigid PCBs are suitable for products like desktops and TVs.
(motherboard’s electronic circuit)
Additionally, ensure that your choice of PCB aligns with the profits gained after usage, industry’s preference, and application’s demand.
We have exhausted the list in the above post. Briefly, both flexible and rigid PCBs have the same purpose of connecting electronic components into a single unit. However, they possess some differences that broadly distinguish their functionality in specific applications.
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