Many of the issues that arise when using a flex circuit come from a lack of knowledge about how to properly design one, especially when the circuit is required to bend. Many novices will design a circuit that calls for bending the flex in too tight of a bend radius, which can cause damage to the circuit and lower the reliability of the end product. This series of articles will focus on the seven key aspects to consider when designing for maximum durability and maximum “flexibility”.
This month, I interviewed Nick Koop—director of flex technology at TTM Technologies, a veteran “flex guy” and instructor, and a leader of several IPC flex standards committees. Nick provides an update for the committees he’s involved with and discusses some of the challenges that he sees as more designers enter the world of flex.
I have been involved with additive electronics for the past several years, and I have seen the discussion of and demand for sub-75-micron feature sizes slowly grow. Conversations, questions, and research about SAP and mSAP increased significantly when it was announced that the mSAP process was used to create the circuitry in the more recent versions of our smartphones. While this process is available in very high volume in some areas of the world, it is still in the early stages of development in other areas.
Wiring with flexible circuits could be a practical solution. Nowadays, most mobile device manufacturers are consuming huge amounts of thin, flexible circuits to attach on the surface of the housing in limited spaces. However, the cost of flexible circuits and assembling them is another headache for device manufacturers because they are not negligible in the whole cost of the devices.
Even though they are a smaller part of the circuit board industry, flex and rigid-flex circuits have been growing in popularity over the last decade, and for good reasons. These circuits are made to be thin, flexible, and durable. However, in addition to the opportunities that come with flex and rigid-flex circuits, there are also challenges. Find out more here.