Applications of Rigid-Flex PCB and Semi Flex PCB Design

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Flexible PCB has been widely used in the market and has become an indispensable product for the electronic industry. It can adapt to various applications of flexible PCB, such as wearable devices, artificial organs, medical equipment, RFID module, etc. Rigid flex PCB is an alternative to the rigid PCB counterparts, made from a PCB material, but with a bending feature. Rigid flex PCBs are mainly used in mobile phones and wearable products. Both semi flex and rigid flex PCBs provide a rugged design with extra flexibility for moving or shaking parts of the product.

Rigid-flex PCBs can be bent, folded, or rounded and then incorporated into various products. They provide convenience, flexibility, and mobility for portable devices. They include the expansion card on a laptop or desktop computer and the battery. Semi flex PCBs can be flexed or bent but are not as flexible as rigid-flex boards. They, too, are an effective portable device solution because they do not require rigid connections in high-traffic areas as they can flex without breaking or separating. This blog post will delve into various applications of rigid-flex PCB and semi-flex PCB design.

rigid flex printed circuit boards

Common Applications of Rigid-Flex PCB and Semi Flex PCB Design

Medical Imaging Instruments

Medical applications require a large number of semi flexible PCBs. Semi flex PCB is used in medical devices like endoscopes and other instruments used for imaging. The endoscope is a flexible tube with a light at one end and a lens at the other. It is inserted into the body to view internal structures or perform procedures such as tissue biopsies, drainage of fluid collections, removal of foreign bodies, and dilation of narrowed passages such as the esophagus. Semi flex PCB has the advantages of good electrical performance and low cost. The semi flex PCB can be bent to the desired shape, making it suitable for this application.

Semi flex PCB also has other applications in medical fields. For example:

  • Injection needle tip protection circuit board (ETC)
  • Medical equipment temperature control circuit board
  • Portable blood pressure meter display circuit board

Automotive Applications

Semi Flex Printed Circuit Board (SFPB) are used in automotive applications with high temperatures and vibrations. The flexible circuitry provides very good performance under high-temperature conditions and ensures that the circuit boards do not break due to mechanical shock or vibration. They are made using rigid FR-4 glass epoxy material with additional copper foil layers laminated on both sides of the substrate to meet the requirements of most applications.

The main feature of Semi Flex Printed Circuit Board is its flexibility, which makes them ideal for use in automotive applications like Digital Control Units (DCU), Electronic Control Modules (ECM), etc., where there are high temperatures involved. These boards can withstand temperatures up to 150°C without damage or deformation.

Aeronautics

The use of rigid flex PCB for aerospace applications has increased with the growing demand for miniaturization and weight reduction. Rigid flex PCBs are used as interconnect devices and are an effective solution to reduce weight, size, and power consumption while improving reliability.

Rigid flex PCBs have been used in various aerospace applications such as avionics, telecom, and military systems. In avionics applications, rigid flex boards are used as connector devices between printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other components like cables, switches, or displays. They help reduce the number of connectors required on PCBs which helps reduce the weight of a system. They also increase reliability by reducing the number of parts being connected.

Wearable Devices

Wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular, with smartwatches and fitness trackers being the most popular examples. Wearables are typically small, battery-powered devices that are worn on the body. Rigid flex PCB and semi flex PCB are used in wearable devices, with rigid flex being more common in smartwatches and semi flexible in fitness trackers. This is because rigid flex can withstand bending forces, which is important for smartwatches that need to be able to withstand impacts when bumped against objects, while semi flexible is more suitable for wearables that need to be able to bend with the body.

Smartphones and Laptops

Semi-flexible PCBs are typically used in applications where the PCB needs to flex but not bend. For example, semi-flexible circuit boards are often used in high-end smartphones and tablet systems where the display is flexible. In these devices, a thin layer of semi-flexible board is laminated directly to the backside of the display. This allows the display to flex when folded or bent but not break. Semi-flexible boards can also be used in cases where there is no need for extreme flexibility. For example, they may be used on the backside of a device that has a rigid front panel — such as many laptops and monitors.

Gaming Devices

The main advantage of using rigid flex PCB in gaming devices is that they provide better protection against mechanical shock damage. This is because they have fewer layers than standard rigid circuit boards, making it easier for them to withstand strong external forces like impacts or drops. The layers on rigid flex PCBs are also more resistant to bending, which means that if you drop your device, it will withstand more pressure than a traditional rigid PCB would. For example, a gaming console requires frequent bending, and the rigid flex PCB can be easily bent or folded without breaking or cracking during use.

Bottom Line

There are several areas where rigid and semi flex PCB will score over their counterparts due to some of their features and properties. They pose a strong competition to other PCBs available thanks to the fact that they serve similar functions, providing a more economical option for the end-users. These applications are sometimes related, and some do not fall under any specific category. It is up to you which one you want to design based on your specific requirements and needs. If you want to learn more about rigid flex PCBs, Hemeixin recommends checking out our complete guide on the subject.

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