Flex and Rigid-Flex PCB Boards
Circuit boards were the cornerstone of the technological revolution. They paved the way for the mass production of electrical devices, and today, circuits are an integral part of our lives. Daily essentials, from our workplace computer to the cellphones we set our alarms on, have intricate circuitry sparking life in these lifeless plastic and metal bodies.
Just like our evolving technology, circuit boards have gone through many iterations to keep up with the increasing complexity of devices and electrical components. Printed circuit boards are the frontrunners in the race for electrical superiority. They are a means to connect different electrical components with the help of discrete wiring.
Printed circuit boards can have a single or as many layers of circuitry as required to complete the design of a unit. These components are custom-made to fulfill the required role in any particular application. Based on differences in design and materials, printed circuit boards are broadly divided into three types: flex circuit boards, rigid boards, and rigid-flex pcb boards.
In this article, we will be discussing the notable differences and functions of flex and rigid-flex pcb boards.
Flex pcb Boards
As the name suggests, Flex PCBs are flexible circuit boards that can be bent to fit inside the designated electrical system. This affords them greater versatility compared to conventional circuit boards since they are essential components of application with limited space. Examples of such applications include consumer electronics and medical appliances.
Correctly designed flexible PCBs can be bent and looped for thousands of repetitive cycles. This unique utility does make them more expensive than their standard counterparts. Let's look at some of the reasons for their increasing popularity in the global electronics industry.
Besides the increased versatility of flex circuit boards, here are some of the advantages you could benefit from when incorporating them into your goods and appliances.
Flexible circuit boards can be bent, creased, or shaped in any way to fit the final structure of equipment that requires it. It gives the designer more creative control because the dynamic shifts from the end product being built around the circuit to the circuit fitting the device.
Flex circuit boards increase the range of connectivity between other circuit boards, electrical components, and the user interface. They are particularly useful in dynamic flex applications where the printed circuit board has to flex continuously during the lifetime of a device. For ease of understanding, imagine foldable electronics or toys with remote-controlled mechanical arms. Flex PCBs are extensively used in these devices since, without the maintenance of electrical current, the different components of the system would malfunction.
Durability and Reduced Weight
In a market where lightweight and durable products are preferred over devices that have a short lifetime, flex circuit boards allow manufacturers to do just that. Their lightweight and flexible design aids them in better shock absorption and increased product reliability and functionality. For this reason, medical electronics, electronic weapon guidance systems, and even satellites rely on the use of flex PCBs to connect their inner wiring.
Rigid-Flex PCB Boards
Technology is based on science, and science thrives on hybridization. We excel at fusing two good things to make something great while also simultaneously taking out its limitations. Similarly, rigid-flex PCB boards combine the rigidness and strength of rigid boards with the flexibility of flexible printed circuit boards.
Rigid-flex circuit boards consist of multiple flexible layers contained within a rigid board. In most cases, the flexible substrate is molded into a curve for maintaining a consistent flex design. The design eliminates the need for flexible cables and connectors prone to wear and tear inside the device. It has further streamlined the electronic design and allowed for enhanced performance as well as reliability.
Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCB Boards
Compared to their flex and rigid counterparts, rigid-flex PCBs outperform both versions as well as offer more versatility in the complex mechanical challenges of current electronics. They provide the best qualities of both rigid as well as flex circuit boards. Look at the following advantages.
Although flex circuit boards can withstand shock and pressure, rigid-flex PCBs offer superior vibration and shock applications in environments where conventional circuit boards and flexible cables might fail. The increased reliability and absence of connectors in the design have made them extremely popular.
Small devices and appliances require intricate circuitry along with cables and connectors. It becomes difficult for a designer to fit them all in the structure because the device might malfunction. Rigid-flex PCB boards are designed to fold and fit into even smaller profiles, which saves a significant amount of space.
Multiple Rigid Boards
In devices and applications requiring more than five rigid boards as well as flex cables, a more cost-effective choice would be to use a rigid-flex board. Its structural design is primarily based on increased space-saving, versatility, reduced weight, smaller size, and durability.
The 3-dimensional design allows the whole board, including the external rigid and internal flex components, 360-degree flexibility. It would mean fewer soldered joints, connections, and a simplified PCB assembly process.
The use of glass fiber epoxy resin for the manufacture of rigid boards also increases the whole design's structural integrity. For these reasons, rigid-flex circuit boards are slowly becoming the top choice for various applications, including consumer electronics, biomedical technology, and aircraft systems.
Printed Circuit Boards at HemeixinPCB.com
Located in Shenzhen, China, HemeixinPCB offers the most cutting-edge and highest-quality PCBs in the electronics market. Their top-of-the-line products ensure the safety and continued optimal performance of all appliances and devices irrespective of the designs, giving designers more creative space. Visit our website to learn more about PCB technology and why you should incorporate our rigorously tested flex and rigid-flex boards into your electrical application designs.