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8 Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCBs - Reasons to Buy Semi-Flex Boards

PCBONLINE Team

Sat, May 30, 2020

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A rigid-flex PCBs effectively combines the best features of both rigid and flexible circuits. Advantages of rigid-flex PCBs include being light in weight and easy to assemble and repair, and it enhances the reliability, performance, and flexibility of electronic devices.

rigid flex PCB

What is a Rigid-Flex PCB?

A rigid-flex PCB is manufactured by combining the technologies of both flexible and rigid boards. It often consists of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates connected to one or more rigid boards externally and/or internally, depending upon the nature of the application.

What are the Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCBs

It offers a plethora of advantages to the customers and can be used in commercial, domestic, or industrial electronic systems. Some of the significant benefits you can accrue from a rigid-flex PCB, irrespective of its size, are:

1. Reduced Packaging Size

The rigid-flex PCB is used in product miniaturization due to its compacted size. It can easily be manufactured to fit in small electronic devices and hence it is used to design a number of sophisticated circuits. Electronic devices are designed to be smaller in size and flexible, so it fully serves the requirement of proper connection of small components. It can be bent or folded to fit into smaller devices. Also, it is lighter in weight due to the smaller size. 

2. Unique Dynamic Stability

Unique stability is the best metric of rigid-flex PCBs. The bending angle of the rigid-flex PCB's flex section is at least 90°. The thinner the flex section, the better flexibility of the board. If the flex section is long enough, the board can roll more than 360°. Within the flex section's length, the rigid-flex circuit board can stretch, compress, twist, roll, bend without any impact. Compared with FPCs, the rigid-flex boards are more stable and durable. This dynamic stability is required by many applications, such as the corners of computers, smartphones, digital cameras for electrical connection. 

Also, a rigid-flex board improves the performance of electronic applications due to the ductile nature, less weight of its flexible circuits, and the reduced impact of vibration and shocks among its components. 

rigid-flex PCB

3. Offers Flexibility in Design

Due to the 3D design and multiple layers of flexible circuits, a rigid-flex PCB offers increased flexibility to fit into any small device. In other words, you don’t need to specifically design a device according to the specifications of the PCB as in the case of a rigid board. Its corners are generally flexible to provide a flexible connection. You can also add rigidness in its design when extra mechanical support is required.

4. Convenience in Repair & Maintenance

The 3D design makes its repair & maintenance not a difficult and cumbersome task, unlike any rigid or flexible circuit. The rigid-flex PCB can be folded, twisted, and bent, and this allows technicians to touch and fix anywhere with problems easily. Besides, the rigid section and the flex section are directly connected without board-to-board connectors, and the circuit is clear and easy to debug. Hence, it is easy to detect the fault in a rigid-flex board and ultimately to repair it during any routine maintenance cycles.

5. Increased Reliability of Circuit

Reduced solder joints and board-to-board connectors lead to reduced connection issues. Besides, a rigid-flex PCB is composed of flexible layers attached to the rigid layer externally and/or internally, and the connection is secure and reliable. It also contributes to less premature circuit failures. That is why almost all advanced and sophisticated electronic applications employ rigid-flex PCB. 

6. Reduced Overall Manufacturing Cost

Blank rigid-flex PCBs are more expensive than FPCs and normal rigid PCBs, but its PCB assembly charges less. Due to the smaller size, and fewer connections, it requires less material to assemble a Rigid-Flex PCB. The fewer parts and connector assemblies not only increase the yield but also reduce the purchasing and assembly costs of the final product. The reduced number of connections also eliminates risks within the supply chain of an electronic device.  Simply put, logistical and assembly costs are significantly reduced with Rigid-Flex PCBs. 

7. Withstands High Temperature and Aggressive Conditions

Since polyimide of high thermal stability is used in the designing of a Rigid-Flex PCB, it can withstand high temperatures. That is why it is a credible choice for sophisticated applications for military and defense purposes. It retains the best features of both rigid and flex boards, and hence it demonstrates extreme resistance to ultraviolet and other radiation exposures, harmful chemicals, and harsh oils. Moreover, it can also withstand extreme shocks and vibrations, and other harsh industrial conditions. 

8. Rigidity in Movement

The parts of a rigid-flex PCB are fixed by solder flux and are designed to remain static under severe outside conditions like shocks and vibrations. Rigid-flex PCBs provide a perfect option to be used in devices that are prone to excessive movement and vibrations during their application. 

Applications of Rigid-Flex PCBs

In the last few years, its demand has increased manifold as it offers a plethora of advantages over a traditional rigid or flexible board. It is used in electronic devices ranging from smartphones and headsets to complex devices like medical devices. Hence, its use in both simple and sophisticated electronic applications is increasing day by day.

One-Stop Rigid-flex PCB Manufacturing Solution

To enjoy all the advantages of rigid-flex PCBs, what you need to do is choose a professional rigid-flex PCB manufacturer PCBONLINE, who understands your requirements and collaborates with your circuit board designer to manufacture perfect rigid-flex boards.

PCBONLINE manufactures and assembles 2 to 24 layers of rigid-flex PCBs. The rigid region of 2 to 24 layers, the flex region of 1 to 6 layers. HDI 1+N+1, 2+N+2, 3+N-3, 4+N+4, gold finger, FR4/PI/stainless steel stiffeners are available.

You can enjoy the professional one-on-one engineering support and free electronic component sourcing services for rigid-flex PCBs as well. Please feel free to contact PCBONLINE by email at info@pcbonline.com if you need rigid-flex PCBs.

Conclusion

Rigid-flex PCBs ensure reliability, durability, and long-lasting results in terms of the performance of electronic applications. Due to the aforementioned advantages, rigid-flex PCBs are used in the design of almost every type of modern electronic application ranging from aerospace, military equipment, automotive sectors, and other smart devices. Now you've known the advantages of rigid-flex PCBs, design your boards and have rigid-flex PCBs manufactured and assembled by PCBONLINE now.

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