Cost and Price of a Flex PCB
Flex PCBs are the first choice for compact and sleek devices such as personal digital assistants, smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, sensors, etc. Flex PCB cost is greatest compared to other PCB boards. Flex PCBs’ greatest advantage to circuits is that it improves their bendability and lets them fit in sleeker designs.
Flexible PI and other elastic polymers such as PTFE, CEM, and other flexible polymers are used in Flex PCB, giving them elasticity and bendability to circuits but enhancing Flex PCB cost. Irrespective of high Flex PCB cost, they are majorly used in medical equipment, consumer goods, aerospace, and security devices due to their small size, lightweight, elasticity, and ability to withstand high temperatures and moisture.
There are many other factors that alter Flex PCB cost. In this post, we will discuss the eight major factors affecting Flex PCB cost and price and suggestions capable of controlling Flex PCB cost and price.
Eight Major Factors that impact Flex PCB Cost and Price
In order to optimize the Flex PCB cost and price, we need to focus on and understand these eight major Flex PCB cost factors:
Type of Material
As majorly the Flex PCB cost is altered by its material. We can use various Flex PCB laminates, adhesives, coverlay, and other materials to regulate Flex PCB cost without affecting its quality. You can use adhesive-based or adhesive-less Flex PCBs construction to alter Flex PCB cost.
Kapton PI is the best material you can use to fabricate flex PCBs. Otherwise, You can always consult your PCB manufacturer's customer service or survey their website for the best Flex PCB material selection to control Flex PCB cost.
Flex Layers Count
Like other advanced PCBs, Flex PCB cost is affected by the number of layers. It is always advised by experienced PCB manufacturers to use less flex material layers to control Flex PCB cost and prices.
If one layer is enough for your electronic circuit, avoid using several flex material layers to control Flex PCB cost, as more layers mean more fabrication material and more designing and manufacturing time. Thus use less layers in your flexible PCBs.
Size and Shape of FLEX PCBs
The size and shape of your flex circuits also majorly affect Flex PCB cost and price. Always utilize your PCB board surface area during designing to optimize Flex PCB cost. Irregular shapes can vary Flex PCB cost; thus, use basic circular, rectangular or square shapes for flex PCB circuits.
Copper Tracing Width and Size
Copper tracing width is another critical factor in Flex PCB cost. As copper traces play a critical role in signal transmission and current conduction, appropriate space is required to improve Flex design and Flex PCB cost. If the traces are too tight, the Flex PCB cost will be high and difficult to design; thus, keep a moderate distance between copper traces to improve the Flex PCB cost and its reliability.
The Thickness of Copper Tracing
The thicker the copper traces, the higher the Flex PCB cost. As thicker copper layers in the inner layers of Flex PCB are needed, more prepreg is required to complete lamination, which escalates Flex PCB cost. To control Flex PCB cost, use thin copper traces. It is optimum to use half oz. Copper tracing on the internal layer and one oz. on the outer tracing.
Size of Drilling holes
Smaller size drill holes need more precession and advanced drilling, which increases Flex PCB cost. Use 6-4 mil size drill holes to avoid additional Flex PCB cost.
The technique used for Drilling holes
Drilling holes in flex PCB can be made using mechanical and laser drills, which impacts Flex PCB cost. However, Flex PCB costs more using laser drill holes. In order to make Flex PCB cost friendly, you can utilize mechanical drill holes.
Use of Stiffeners
PI and FR4 are the two common stiffeners used in flex PCBs without increasing Flex PCB cost. For reasonable Flex PCB cost, you can even use aluminum and stainless steel stiffeners in some designs. Stiffeners help flex PCB design for multi-purpose use such as component support, heat dissipation, and thickness to ZIF connector.
Generally, PSA is used to bond stiffness to flex PCB, but it increases Flex PCB cost. Thus using thermally stable adhesives to attach stiffeners will reduce Flex PCB cost and prices.
Use of Surface Finishes
Various metals such as nickel, gold, silver, and tin can be used as a finish in flex PCB circuits. Each metal has a different impact on Flex PCB cost and price. ENIG finish, which contains gold and nickel, is the most popular finish used in flex circuits. It is the most expensive finish and severely impacts Flex PCB cost when used.
Tin is cost friendly but not as reliable as a finish, thus impacting the Flex PCB cost in the long run. Silver is becoming popular among these finishes due to its long-term reliability. For a longer duration, this is the most cost-friendly option to apply as a finish in a Flex PCB circuit.
Tips to Reduce Flex PCB Cost
- Always select Flex PCB materials that are thermally stable, and have low dk, DF, and CTE values to control Flex PCB cost.
- Use PCB material and design guidelines that control the impedance of Flex PCB to regulate signal transmission without affecting Flex PCB cost.
- As the increase in layers increases 20-40 percent in Flex PCB cost thus, avoid using additional layers not required in your device power circuits.
- In order to strengthen Flex PCBs use rigid material in place of no flow prepreg to control Flex PCB cost without affecting its quality and elasticity.
- Always use stiffeners with uniform material thickness. This will increase the fabrication process step and reduce Flex PCB cost.
In this article, we have discussed the eight major factors that impact Flex PCB cost and prices. We have also discussed tips to control Flex PCB cost and prices. In case you are looking for reliable Flex PCBs, contact Hemeixin PCB.
Hemeixin PCB is the leading Flex PCB manufacturer. They offer Flex PCBs with the best pricing and advanced material. Visit their website to receive the most competitive quote for flex and other advanced PCB circuits.