Expert Discussion: The Flex Technologists Speak, a conversation with Jonathan Weldon, Mark Finstad, Scott McCurdy, and Scott Miller
Expert Discussion with John Talbot, Tramonto Circuits, a conversation with John Talbot
Field Trip: CID Class Sees How Flex is Made at Streamline Circuits, by Kelly Dack
Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designers’ Guide to Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals, by Dave Lackey and Anaya Vardya
APCT Moves into Rigid-Flex with Cartel, Cirtech Acquisition, a conversation with Steve Robinson
One question that I hear fairly often, particularly after an initial quotation, is “Why is rigid-flex so expensive?” In this article, I’ll share with designers the cost drivers in rigid-flex relative to standard rigid boards and flex circuits with stiffeners. A typical rigid-flex PWB will cost about seven times the cost of the same design on a hard board, and two to three times an equivalent flex circuit with stiffeners.
Flexible circuits are known by a few different names depending on one’s global location and language: flexible printed circuits, FPCs, flex circuits, flexi circuits, flexibles, bendables and a few others that are application-specific such as flexible heater circuits and controlled impedance cable constructions. While flex circuits are an original and foundational interconnection technology for electrical and electronic products (one of the first patents for electrical interconnections, issued at the turn of the last century, was arguably a flexible circuit), over the years there have been several forays into technological extensions of the basic idea.
Non-conforming material that is sent back by the customer can easily be interpreted as a negative experience. However, if it is perceived as an opportunity to learn and support the customer it becomes a much more pleasant and satisfying endeavor.
The design process is arguably the most important part of the flex circuit procurement process. The decisions made in the design process will have a lasting impact, for better or worse, throughout the manufacturing cycle. In advance of providing important details about the actual construction of the flex circuit, it is of value to provide some sort of understanding of the expected use environment for the finished product.
How many hours is your car sitting idle outside in your driveway or a parking lot? What if your car was used for solar harvesting—converting heat to energy? What about biometric sensors in automotives: skin sensors for preventing DUI, posture identification to monitor driver fatigue, monitoring exposure to hazardous materials in a load for truck drivers.