Flexible printed circuit boards have become a popular and important type of circuit board. They are widely used in industrial and commercial electronic products. Also known as flex circuits or flex PCB, they are known for their versatility and reliability in simple and complex applications.
Types of Flexible Circuits While flexible PCBs can be designed with different types of circuitry configurations, there are three common types that are offered by manufacturers:
Single Sided Circuit: This the basic circuit board type offered to clients. In this design, a flexible polyimide film is laminated to a copper board. The dielectric layer consists of only one layer of metal traces.
Double Sided Circuit: This flex PCB consists of a polyimide base. The base has a set of conductive layers on either side. Metal layers and trace patterns are created and connected via the use of through holes.
Multilayer Circuit: These PCBs are designed with multiple double sided copper layers. Certain layers are encased by dielectric layers. Multilayer flexible circuits also consist of shielding and intricate electrical connections.
Benefits of Flexible Printed Circuit Boards The advantages of using flexible circuits are numerous. Some of the important benefits have been mentioned here.
Unlike rigid printed circuit boards, flexible circuits be designed in three dimensions. This increases the number of design options that can be created for an application.
The flexible material allows the printed circuit board to be designed and configured in different types of shapes or patterns. This allows the designer to create numerous types of electronic packages.
It allows for accuracy in terms of design. This also leads to reduction of errors in the PCB.
Expensive procedures such as wire wrapping, soldering, and routing are eliminated due to the use of flexible circuits.
Due to the use of flexible materials, the overall weight and size of the PCB can be reduced, leading to the manufacture of lightweight electronic products.
The use of flexible PCBs in an application leads to increased air flow and higher heat dissipation.
Surface Finishes and Assemblies Surface finishing is an important step in flexible PCB manufacturing, as it protects the PCB during the assembly process and in an application. A variety of metals are used to facilitate this process. Some of the common types of metals that are used for the surface finishes include:
Organic surface coatings can also be provided to protect the copper board. The surface finishing process also prepares the circuit boarding for procedures such as wire bonding and connector and component insertion.
When it comes to assembly, Surface Mount Technology (SMT) is usually the procedure preferred for flexible circuits. SMT allows for mechanical parts to be joined to the flexible circuit. With SMT, fewer holes need to be drilled into the PCB. Intricate, thin line circuits can be created, allowing the manufacturer to increase the PCB’s component density. This allows for faster automated assembly.
Industries where Flexible Printed Circuit Boards are used Flexible printed circuit boards can prove to be extremely advantageous in many industrial applications. You can find flexible circuits being used in the following industries.
These various factors have made flexible printed circuit boards indispensable products for industrial and commercial organizations.