Flexible printed circuit boards are a subset of printed circuit boards that are bendable. This allows them to conform to various spaces.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about Flexible printed circuit boards, including the various types of designs, the benefits of using them, and how they are used in devices today.
TYPES OF Flexible printed circuit boards
There are five main types of Flexible printed circuit boards desiagns. Each have their own use and application.
The first type of Flexible printed circuit boards is the single-sided flexible circuit. This design has one conductor layer that is composed of metal or some other conductive material. It is created on a dielectric film to make it flexible. Although single-sided flexible circuits can be made with or without a protective coating, most manufacturers opt to add one.
Next, there is the double-sided flexible circuits. These circuits have two layers made of a conductive material. At times, these circuits contain holes where components can be placed and soldered. Since the components are laying within the material, it maintains its flexibility.
The third type is a sculptured flexible circuit. Much as the name implies, these are sculpted in a more unusual fashion, but they still remain flexible. The thickness of the conductive material will vary in this type of flexible circuit.
Next is the multilayer flexible circuit. As the name suggests, this type has multiple layers of conductive material, usually about three extra layers. In many cases, areas that don?t contain holes for components are laminated. This is meant to allow areas that do need to bend to stay bent while attempting to keep other areas more rigid.
Lastly, there is the rigid-flex circuit. This design is more of a hybrid of sorts, as it has parts that are flexible as well as a part that looks much like a traditional printed circuit board. These flexible, but stiff, circuits usually have extra conductor layers.
Those are the five main types of Flexible printed circuit boards. I?m sure you are wondering how these flexible circuits are used in today?s electronics, but you will learn about that later. First, you need to know why it is beneficial to use Flexible printed circuit boards.
BENEFITS OF USING A Flexible printed circuit boards
To begin, there are far fewer assembly issues when it comes to creating Flexible printed circuit boards and implementing them into the device they will help to power. This is because a lot of the processes for creating the flexible circuits are automated, leaving little room for human error.
It is also much cheaper and faster to created Flexible printed circuit boards. This is because assembly is automated, so it is quicker, and it costs less to have a software do this rather than hiring someone to do this.
As the name implies, flexibility matters in a lot of devices. Many complex devices such as laptops and gaming systems must house a number of components inside a compact plastic shell. The flexibility of these circuits allow them to fold into corners and around other components so they can fit in compact areas.
The flexible circuits are also able to absorb vibration and impact a lot better than a traditional printed circuit board. Because these circuits are laminated and flexible, unlike their more rigid counterparts, falls and hits don?t impact them as badly. This means that they are less likely to break and cause further issues down the line.
Because they are laminated and flexible, these circuits are also able to withstand environmental threats. This means that they are less likely to be damaged by extreme heat or water damage.
Another benefit is that, in pretty much every case, the components that would traditionally go on a printed circuit board are actually embedded into the flexible circuits so they can maintain their flexibility and still do the job. This means that you are less likely to have an issue relating to bad soldering of a component.
Lastly, flexible circuits are super thin. These circuits can be as thin as 0.004 inches. Because of their thin nature, they are able to withstand high temperatures and are also designed to help with spacing issues inside of larger devices.
HOW Flexible printed circuit boards ARE USED
Before you learn about how some of these Flexible printed circuit boards are used in various products, you should know that there are two main types of applications for Flexible printed circuit boards.
The first is static application. This means that the circuit is installed to fit into a specific area. The circuit is bent one time. This process is called ?flex to fit.?
The second type of application is dynamic flexing application. This means that the circuit is bent many times to be applied to the device it will power.
Now that you know the types of application, it is time to learn where many of these flexible circuits end up.
? Everyday electronics: These include things like your LED television, your laptop and computer keyboard, printers, cell phones and smartphones, and cameras.
? Need-specific electronics: These are electronics that you reach for when you need them. These can include calculators and GPS systems.
? Medical electronics: These are electronic devices that are used to improve or even remedy medical various medical conditions that a patient may be experiencing. Some of the common ones include hearing aids and pacemakers.
? Military electronics: The military has specific electronic equipment that is optimized for military service. They are designed to be compact and easily transportable.
These are only a few of the several items that use Flexible printed circuit boards. Without these types of circuits, many electronic devices would be bulky and fragile.
Flexible printed circuit boards are small components that make a big impact on the capabilities of many everyday electronic devices. Their flexibility and thinness makes them a viable option for smaller, more compact devices, as they can easily bend to fit the space and can withstand a large amount of heat without becoming defective.