Managing the Challenges of Flex and Rigid-Flex Design


Reading time ( words)

PCB designers working with flex or rigid-flex technology face many potential risks that can derail a project and cause costly design failures. As the name implies, flex and rigid-flex designs comprise a combination of rigid and flexible board technologies made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates, attached internally and/or externally to one or more rigid boards. These combinations provide flexibility for the PCB designer working on dense designs that require a specific form factor. Rigid-flex allows the PCB design team to cost-efficiently apply greater functionality to a smaller volume of space, while providing the mechanical stability required by most applications.

Rigid-flex technology is usually applied when a product needs to be compact, lightweight and/or flexible. Examples of end products where flex and rigid-flex systems are found include smart phones, modern televisions, digital cameras and laptops. As flex and rigid-flex boards are becoming more complex, modern design tools must be able to understand the unique design constructs and rules that surround these designs.

The Key Benefits of Flex and Rigid-Flex

The major benefits of flex and rigid-flex technology implementation and why design teams need to adopt this methodology include:

  • Reduced cost and increased reliability by eliminating physical connectors used in the traditional “design-separately-then-assemble” approach to systems design.
  • Improved signal integrity through the removal of cross-sectional changes to the conductors (eliminating physical connectors and their associated solder connections).
  • Physical space requirement reduction since parts can be placed, and traces can be routed, in three dimensions.
  • Improved electromechanical functionality including dynamic bending, vibration and shock tolerance, heat resistance, and weight reduction.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the recent issue of Flex007 Magazine, click here.

Share


Suggested Items

Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers

11/14/2018 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Field Application Engineer Julie Ellis of TTM sees it all: good designs, bad designs, and everything in between. Her classes on proper DFM techniques are always a big draw. She taught at the inaugural AltiumLive in 2017 and was back at this year’s event. I caught up with Julie and asked her to discuss some of the things she covered in class. As she points out, many issues could be eliminated if designers communicated with their fabricators and had a better understanding of how PCBs are manufactured.

Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals

06/25/2018 | Dave Lackey and Anaya Vardya, American Standard Circuits
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.

Mark Thompson: What Designers Need to Know about Fab

06/08/2018 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
Mark Thompson wants to help PCB designers. He’s seen it all in CAM support at Prototron Circuits: the incomplete or inaccurate data packages, boards that are unnecessarily complex or over-constrained, and so much more. Mark just returned to writing his popular Design007 Magazine column, The Bare (Board) Truth, which addresses questions such as, “What happens to your design at CAM?” I asked Mark to explain why it’s so important for designers to communicate with their fabricators, and why they need to get out of the office and visit a board shop every now and then.



Copyright © 2018 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.