Rigid-Flex PCBs are boards that use a combination of rigid and flexible sheet technologies in one application. The stiffer flex boards are made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates connected to one or more external or internal rigid boards, depending on the application model. The flexible substrates are designed to be in a constant bending state and are generally formed in the curved curve during fabrication or installation.
Ridge-Flex projects are more difficult than designing a typical rigid board environment, as these panels are designed in a 3D space, which also offers greater spatial efficiency. With the ability to design in three dimensions, rigid and flexible designers can rotate, fold and wrap flexible panel substrates to achieve the desired shape for the final application package.
Rigid production applications of printed circuits
Rigid-flexible PCBs offer a wide range of applications, from military weapons and aerospace systems to mobile phones and digital cameras. Increasingly, the production of flexible and rigid panels is used in medical devices as a pacemaker for its ability to reduce weight and space. The same advantages for the rigid and flexible use of PCBs can be applied to military weapons and weapons control systems.
In consumer products, Rigid-Flex not only optimizes space and weight, but also greatly improves reliability, eliminating many weld jointing requirements and delicate and fragile wiring that are subject to connection problems. These are just a few examples, but Rigid-Flex PCBs can be used for almost all advanced electrical applications, including test equipment, tools and automobiles.
Rigid-Flex PCBs Technology and Production Process
Whether it’s producing a flexible rigid prototype or production quantity that requires large-scale production and assembly of Rigid-Flex PCBs, the technology is proven and reliable. The flexible part of the PCB is particularly effective in overcoming space and weight problems with degrees of spatial freedom.
Careful consideration of Rigid-Flex solutions and an adequate assessment of the options available in the early stages of the rigid design phase of flexible printed circuit boards will bring significant benefits. It is essential that the Rigid-Flex PCB manufacturer be involved from the beginning of the design process to ensure that the design and the fabulous parts are coordinated and take into account changes in the final product.
The production phase of Rigid-Flex is even more complex and requires more time than the production of rigid panels. All the flexible components in the Rigid-Flex assembly have completely different handling, engraving and welding processes than the FR4 rigid boards.
Benefits of Rigid-Flex PCBs
- Space requirements can be minimized by applying 3D
- By eliminating the need for connectors and cables between different rigid parts, the plate size and total weight of the system can be reduced.
- When optimizing space, there is often a lower count in the parts.
- Less welding joints guarantee greater reliability of the connection.
- Manipulation during assembly is simpler than flexible panels.
- Simplified printed circuit assembly process.
- Integrated ZIF contacts provide simple modular interfaces for the system environment.
- Test conditions are simplified. A complete test before installation is possible.
- Logistics and assembly costs are significantly reduced with Rigid-Flex panels.
- It is possible to increase the complexity of mechanical projects, which also improves the degree of freedom for optimized housing solutions.
Rigid-Flex Design and Fabrication Issues
During the process of designing the Rigid-Flex PCB, some considerations must be taken into account for variations in the dimensions of the final product. In the production of Rigid-Flex panels, the flexible polyimide core contracts once the attached copper sheet is attached. This variation must be taken into consideration in the design process.