A flex PCB or flex circuit is a patterned arrangement of printed components and circuitry that makes use of flexible based materials with or without a flexible coverlay. The components used for rigid PCBs can also be used for electronic assembly and flexible PCB fabrication.
A flexible PCB can be used in a variety of applications.
Most of the time, they are used along with complex and advanced components. In fact, flexible PCBs are widely used in daily electronics and technology. They are prominently used in desktop printers, portable electronics and devices, and hard disk drivers. They are also extensively used in other industries and applications such as communications, transportation, consumer electronics, military, automotive, aerospace, medical, and industrial.
In transportation, flexible PCBs are favored because of their resistance against movement and vibrations. Their light weight and flexibility allows them to absorb vibration and reduce its impact to the solder joints in its connections. Flex PCBs can also be used with materials designed to operate in harsh environments. They can be built with waterproof, shock proof, moisture proof, and corrosion resistant materials.
The advantages of flexible Pcb fabrication are countless. Servers and mobile phones, regardless of use and size, are designed to be efficient, flexible, and lightweight using flex PCBs. The most prominent advantage of flex PCBs is flexibility. Their elastic nature allows placement around folds and edges. They also require very little or no wiring, making them less prone to failure and more reliable.
In addition, flex PCBs allow for weight and space savings for up to sixty percent. They can even reach as many as two hundred thousand bending cycles since they no longer require the use of connectors in 3D designs. They have thin inner layers as well as heavy copper layers. The thin copper layers are flexible while the heavy copper layers are ideal for high power usage.
Nevertheless, you should also be aware of the disadvantage of flex PCBs. For instance, flex PCBs are more expensive than rigid flex PCBs. They have low temperature threshold and can be quite difficult to assemble. They can also be damaged easily if not handled with care. They are actually prone to denting and bending. They are also prone to scratching. Once damaged, flex PCBs can no longer be repaired. Hence, it is crucial that they are stored in sulfur free plastic in order for them to stay in good shape.
If you are in search of a complex multilayer flexible PCB or double-sided flex circuit, you should choose a manufacturer that can provide you with the necessary expertise, capabilities, and guidance so you can turn your concept into reality. There are a lot of manufacturers involved in PCB fabrication that can provide you with heavy copper flex circuits which you can also couple with flexible thin copper layers for handing heavy power currents. Go for a manufacturer that builds heavy copper boards that have flex portions, so you can control any voltage additions.
In electronic applications, multilayer flex boards are used for better speed performance. However, using these boards also cause flexibility loss. Hence, it may be more ideal to use double-sided or single-sided multilayer flex PCBs. These boards may be used for complex and unique layouts. They are actually much better than FR4 boards since they have a higher combination possibility.
Multilayer flex PCBs are similar to multilayer FR4 boards in the way that they can both be designed using buried and blind vias. Both of them can also use PTH or plated through holes. You should choose a manufacturer that pushes the limits on their PCB fabrication technology. For instance, you should go for a manufacturer that uses very fine one mil traces.