all about flexible pcb

All about Flexible PCB – Material Design Manufacturing and Cost

What is Flexible PCB?
Flexible PCBs or Flex PCBs, given this term as their capability to make the circuitry designed to match the electronics or products, and as an inverse to creating the devices/products to comply to the PCB. Flexible PCBs are defined as a eminently patterned printed electronic circuitry and part adjustment emphasized by a lenient base material.

flexible pcb

Figure 1. Examples of flexible PCB

Flex circuits are parts of interconnection and electronic cluster. These types made of an insulating polymer with thin film which has conductive circuit designs appended thereto and normally provided using a polymer covering (thin version) to secure the conductor part of the circuitry. The innovation has been utilized for catenating electronic gadgets since 1950s in some structure.


Flexible PCB Design

Before discussing in more detail about Flexible PCB Design, we have to know that basically there are different methods to make a flexible circuit design:

Different types of flexible PCB systems

Figure 2.Different types of flexible PCB systems

  1. Heterogeneous system/framework:

– Wiring blunders conceivable

– Rigid PCB + wiring saddle/flex patched in or stopped (separable)

– Non-basic applications

– High costs for assembly and testing

– Only barely any associations

– Many single components

  1. Homogeneous system/framework:

– Saves significant space by wiping out associating focuses (patch cushions or impression ofconnectors)

– PCBs with indistinguishable stack in every single unbending region

– Considerably more prominent wiring thickness

  1. Partially homogeneous system/framework:

– Dissociable

– Modular frameworks conceivable

– Sub-frameworks shift extensively as far as innovation and size: for example flex-rigid/combination of connector


Moreover, you have to select the right technology. Here are the variants:

Figure 3. Some technology variants of flex PCBs

Figure 3. Some technology variants of flex PCBs

  1. Flex/ TWIN flex:

– Partially fortified with stiffener

– Delivered exclusively or as board

– Very slight adaptable foil LCP/ PI

– Photosensitive weld veil foil / Polyimide coverlay

  1. Flex-rigid:

– Rigid areas: standard soldermask

– Flexible layers of Polyimide outside or evenly inside

– Flexible territory 1-12 layers reinforced/unbonded (airgap)

– Flexible territory: profoundly adaptable soldermask / Polyimide coverlay

– Parts on stable inflexible segment

– Rigid territories: standard soldermask

  1. FR4 Semiflex:

– Reasonably priced

– Rigid FR4 PCBs with profound processing process

– Bending zone: one or two copper layers, flexible soldermask / Polyimide coverlay

– Clearly characterized establishment circumstance and enormous bowing span NOTE: More moderate comparing to a connector-wire-connector arrangement; Certainly better and less expensive contrasted with protected connector and wires; Usage of bowing devices suggested


Now, we will discuss about some recommendation for standard design of flexible PCB and some tips to design flexible circuit:

Differences of design and some particular considerations.

  1. Determine circuit variables by its application

It might be useful to utilize a paper layout to speak to the circuit. Test with twisting and framing the format to advance fit and shape. When planning the last shape, take a look how the electronic circuits will spread out on the preparing board (“settling”). The more prominent the quantity of circuitries per board, the less the expense. Another thought concerns unbending flex. Multilayer or hardened flex sheets might have the option to fit your necessities for segment and PCB mounting at diminished expense.

  1. Flexible circuit versus hard-boards

Planning a flexible circuit is just one stage away from structuring a hardboard. The most significant plan contrast to remember is the 3-dimensionality of the flexible circuit. Innovative bowing and flexing could spare layers and space. Other significant contrasts: Flexible circuitries both need and license looser resiliences than hard-sheets; Since arms could flex, structure them marginally longer than needed

  1. Tips to reduce circuit cost by adjusting your design

– Follow suggested resiliences at whatever point conceivable.

– Keep circuits little; think utilizing a lot of more little circuits rather than one huge circuit.

– If a circuitry has just a couple of layers, utilizing stiffeners could be far more affordable than an unbending flexible circuit.

– Think how circuitries would be “settled” on a board.

Flexible PCB bending

Figure 4. Flexible PCB bending


– Design unbonded territories just where these territories are completely essential.

  1. Particular considerations when utilizing rigid-flex

– It is like most practical to fabricate an inflexible flex with a significantly amount of layers. Every single unbending segment of the circuit ought to have a similar number and layers stack-up.- Before structuring an inflexible flex circuit, verify that this is genuinely what you need. In the event that the circuit just has a couple of layers, consider that stiffeners are more affordable option in contrast to unbending flex.

– Rigid-flex type is the perfect answer for some applications with numerous unbending PCBs which have SMT parts on the two sides and also requiring connections between the inflexible PCBs.

– Observe perspective proportion (gap profundity/gap distance across) limits.

– Hole positional resilience inside a group of openings is for the most part ~ 0.003″. Include 0.002″/ inch for resiliences between group datums, particularly those in various inflexible zones.

– For inflexible flex circuits, this is more affordable for having plated thru-holes at unbending bits as it were.

– Unbonded layers could build adaptability in multilayer flexible circuits, yet this choice is progressively costly. Indicate unbonded layers just in territories of the circuitry that will twist.


How to enhance bend radius and flexibility. At least two layer circuits probably are most appropriate to fixed applications. A few issues can emerge when an electronic circuit is bowed forcefully. Pressure can affect creases in the spread coat within the twist. Extending can bring about tears at the spread material or potentially broken conductors outwardly of the curve. Begin the mechanical structure by setting up the twist sweep. In the event that the span is in any event multiple times comparing to the material thickness, there will be a decent possibility that the electronic circuit will work dependably. The base passable curve sweep relies upon various factors, and also it is best characterized by IPC-2223. Generally thickness of the circuit is somewhat not exactly the entirety of insulator of the individual, glue and thwarts layer thicknesses.


Combine these aspects to become multilayer and design decreased bend ratio PCBs to  improve reliability

  1. Decrease the whole thickness of the flexible area

– Wipe out copper coating on the channels at the flex territory by using specific (cushions just) coating or adding the only layers of pads to the electronic circuit.

– Utilize glueless base materials. Glueless materials will as a rule lessen the beginning thickness of every substrate by one to two mils when contrasted with cement based substrates.

– Decrease the weight of base copper (and the relating cement thicknesses) or lessen thickness of the dielectric.

  1. Create a robust circuit to restrain flexing

– To increment adaptability, conductors ought to be stumbled among layers and not heaped on head of one another

 Good vs Bad conductors stackup

Figure 5. Good vs Bad conductors stackup

– The thickness of conductor and width ought to stay steady in twist regions.

– Conductors ought to consistently be directed as near opposite as conceivable through twist territories.

– Plated thru-holes ought to be retained of the curve zones.

– Enhance stiffeners under end zones to expel the pressure around the stoppage.

– If shields as well as ground fields are needed on the electronic circuit, utilize a cross brought forth design as opposed to rigid copper.

– Balance weights of the conductor and thickness of material on every side of unbiased twist pivot.

– Prevent any discontinuities at the spread plate or substrate close to a twist.

– Combine tear terminals or assists for cuts in the electronic circuit.

– Consider industrial facility shaping. Dependable curve radii more tight than 10/1 are conceivable if the electronic circuit is framed utilizing particular tooling and might be deflected one time.

– The circuit blueprint ought to be structured hence nothing turns in the completed get together.

– Stiffener gaps ought to be at least 0.015″ in measurement bigger than the entrance opening. This is better when the entrance opening under the stiffener gap is not a major access gap so as to expand the web of stiffener among gaps and to forestall potential weld wicking among the electronic circuit and the stiffener. The client must permit juncture. Round stiffener openings are more affordable than opened stiffener gaps, and more slender stiffener materials (under 0.031″/0.79mm) are more affordable to process.

– If twist unwavering quality is as yet a worry, thought “unbonding” the adaptable substrates from one another. Since every one of substrates at the unbonded territory has a thinner far than the absolute circuit, they can twist more tight comparing to when they were completely reinforced.

– Each cutting strategy has focal points and burdens. Steering and laser cutting give hard tooling resistances for little amounts of electronic circuits. Laser cutting is additionally equipped for making complex patterns not practical with different techniques. Steel rule bites the dust (SRD) is best for middle of the road amounts and resiliences. Compound processed kicks the bucket (CMD) offers more tight resiliences than the SRDs for a gradual increment in cost. Hard tooling is suggested for tight resistances, complex electronic circuits, or potentially high amount.


Flexible PCB Material

Materials of Flex Circuit

We can utilize adaptable circuits in an assortment of uses. They can securely twist into little and convoluted gadgets, making them appropriate for present day gadgets like cell phones. They retain stun and vibration effectively in applications with high-stress type. Unbending flex circuits consolidate standard PCB development with adaptable plan for circumstances that need greater sturdiness. Have you at any point pondered about the formats and materials associated with the production of these flexible PCBs? In this article we will give a speedy review of normal materials and developments in flexible and inflexible flex PCBs.


The core of flexible PCB comprise of an adaptable polymer. Most of flexible circuit boards have a PI (polyimide) film substrate. Polyimide film doesn’t relax when warmed, yet it remains adaptable in the wake of thermosetting. Numerous thermosetting pitches like polyimides become inflexible in the wake of warming, making polyimide a predominant material in flexible PCB development. Standard polyimide film doesn’t have great protection from moistness and tears, yet picking overhauled polyimide film lessens these problems. A flexible PCB additionally needs a cement or unique fundamental material. Makers recently utilized cements only, however this technique diminished the PCB’s unwavering quality. To determine these problems, they created adhesiveless polyimide that joins to the copper without a cement. This material considers more slender plans with a less danger of by means of breakage. Rather than utilizing a patch veil to mask and secure a flexible circuit, producers utilize a film of coverlay likewise made with polyimide. In the event that you need the region on the flexible PCB to be unbending, the assembling can overlay a stiffer into that portion, however the cue can’t go between the stiffer and the flex.


Materials of Rigid-Flex PCB

An inflexible flex PCB associates materials of rigid PCB to deflect materials. The outcome twists just in specific spots, creating the board more grounded at this point still adaptable. In the event that you need the cue to move between the inflexible and flexible part you should plan an unbending flexible PCB. In an unbending flex plan, the adaptable piece of the PCB looks like an ordinary flexible circuit. In the mean time, the unbending areas have comparative materials to resemble inflexible PCBs.

Flexible PCB Manufacturing

Creating a flexible PCB commonly includes the similar stages among circuits. Yet, special PCB designs possibly increase expense. The flow diagram and examples spot some expenses based on problems like plated thru-holes, access holes, etc. The flow diagram presents the fabrication stage for a common double-layer PCB including a stiffener.Innovations in fabrication of flexible-solid circuit boards are different from others among various kinds of circuit boards and also the important innovation affecting to the diversities is good circuit fabrication innovation and also microvia fabrication innovation.

Innovation of fabrication in Flex-Rigid PCB. Flex-inflexible PCBs are manufactured through systematic and particular stackup of layer of unbending and adaptable PCBs with coated via gaps liable for association between layers. Here is the figure that shows the essential structure of flexible-rigid PCB.

Basic structure of flex-rigid PCBs

Figure 6. Basic structure of flex-rigid PCBs


Appearance of flex-unbending PCBs can viably decrease electronic item’s quality and volume by supplanting bridle and some connectors which were generally implemented in electronic items. Moreover, flex-inflexible PCBs are equipped for taking care of contact and extraordinary warmth issues brought about by bridle and connectors, radically improving dependability of gadgets. As ahead of schedule in 1970s, flex-inflexible PCBs were produced by piling up unbending board onto adaptable board. Predictable advancement and streamlining have seen various new kinds of flex-inflexible PCB fabricating advances. Until currently, the most develop and pragmatic flex  unbending PCB fabricating innovation is that fiberglass epoxy sap (FR4) is implemented as outside inflexible board and bind veil is implemented to secure unbending circuit design. With regards to materials with adaptable substrate, polyimide (PI) twofold layer board secured using copper is implemented as an adaptable center and also acrylic/polyimide film is utilized to ensure adaptable circuit design. Bond relies upon Low-stream prepreg. Each one of those components are covered with the goal that flex-unbending PCBs are produced. Flex-inflexible PCBs can overcome issues of free contact and warm dissemination by occurring of outfit and connectors with the goal that gadget dependability can be enhanced. Adaptable section can be unreservedly bowed at any point and the entire circuit board undertakes incredibly as far as electrical execution and also its mechanical characteristics.


Consequently, flex-inflexible PCBs is available for 3D gathering and item’s opportunity degree possibly be expanded with gear quality and volume diminished hence they are very much implemented in electronic gadgets that should be twisted around and over once more. Adaptable substrate material highlights such great dielectric steadiness that these are good for high-recurrence transmission of signal and control of impedance and be able to hold radiation, temperature stun and extraordinary condition, guaranteeing smooth operation of electronic gadgets. Conventional flex-inflexible PCBs are difficult to be made with a moderately low rate of yield and also high thickness and hard to be fixed after breakage. During PCB producing process, unbending base should be installed into costly adaptable substrate material hence rate of crude material waste stays high thus does fabricating innovation trouble. Adaptable substrate material highlights such a generally high coefficient from warm development and high dampness ingestion rate that enormous region adaptable material of substrate will prompt size resistance amassing, which will additionally influence circuit design, boring, layer up, plating and by means of cleaning and affect low yield. Implanted adaptable circuits, be that as it may, are able to do adequately diminishing and staying away from such problems.


Innovation of fabrication in Embedded Flexible PCB. Embedded flex PCBs are incused by embedding each of adaptable circuits into inward unbending sheets, at that point experience Building Up Step. Interconnections are still not accessible between adaptable circuit and inflexible circuit at the proportionate layer and also their association relies upon buried vias and blind vias. Inserted flex-unbending PCBs probably get adaptable circuits drastically diminished and they bring focal points of inflexible circuit boards with material waste rate of substrate decreased. Contrasted and conventional flex-unbending PCBs, implanted flexible PCBs are produced by installing adaptable circuit into inflexible barricade and afterward layering. Adaptable region is bigger that of adaptable circuit unit, expanding adaptable substrate material utilization rate enhanced. Since there is no electrical association is accessible between adaptable circuit and unbending circuit in a similar layer, some propelled fabricating advances can be effectively gotten through the association between coating thru-holes and inflexible circuit. Somewhat, implanted flexible PCBs get the chance to take care of bunches of issues in flex-inflexible PCB producing innovation. Inserted unit radically chop down material waste rate of substrate and adequately increment adaptable substrate utilization rate. Adaptable substrate material execution issues possibly be disregarded and mature assembling advances of unbending sheets can be straightforwardly implemented hence HDI innovation can be additionally evolved in flex inflexible PCB producing.


Flexible PCB Cost

Why Not Make All Circuit Boards Flexible?

Flex PCBs are absolutely helpful, however they won’t change inflexible PCBs in all applications/usages. Cost effectiveness is the fundamental obstruction to actualizing an only flex PCB design/structure in a user item. Unbending circuit sheets are more affordable to produce and introduce in a run of the mill computerized high-volume creating office. Commonly, the perfect answer for an inventive item is the one that joins adaptable hardware when fundamental and utilizes strong, dependable unbending circuit sheets where conceivable to continue assembly and fabricating costs down. A few producers even utilize hybrid unbending flexible PCBs explicitly for this reason. This is normal in PCs clinical gadgets, where inflexible PCBs can be associated with one other utilizing strip like adaptable circuits. These sheets can be exacerbated and intended to fit an amount of engineering requirements by concentrating on the individual qualities of each PCB base innovation.


Best aspects for using Rigid vs Flexible PCB

Inflexible PCBs commonly cost not as much as flexible PCBs. I state “normally” in light of the fact that while considering the absolute expense of proprietorship there are a few applications which, when utilizing adaptable PCBs, might be more affordable contrasted with utilizing inflexible circuit boards. To obtain a valid and exact comprehension of the all out expense of possession, you first require to welcome the way that flexible PCBs may dispense with the requirement for segments, for example, connectors, wire bridles, and other PCBs. By expelling these segments from a structure, material cost, work and get together expense, and scrap expense are completely diminished. Numerous electronic gadgets (PCs and laptop, sound consoles, SSD, flat TVs and screens, kids’ toys, and different electronic devices) utilize inflexible PCBs rather than adaptable PCBs. Be that as it may, flex circuits might be discovered in ultra-reduced and additionally superior gadgets, including cameras, tablets, GPS units, phones, and wearables. More prominent refinement isn’t the main motivation to utilize flexible PCBs. Albeit both unbending and adaptable PCBs in a general sense fill a similar need—interfacing different mechanical and electrical segments together—the two innovations have their location throughout everyday applications. While a large number of a similar plan rules are utilized with both unbending and adaptable PCBs, adaptable PCBs need some extra principles because of their extra assembling process steps. What’s more, despite the fact that inflexible PCBs may appear, at any rate at first, to expense less, one ought to consider a plan’s all out expense of possession before pronouncing that flexible PCBs are excessively costly. At last, it’s imperative to take note of that not entirely PCB houses are equipped for assembling adaptable PCBs. Preceding beginning a flexible PCB design, you ought to meet various sheet houses and talk about adaptable PCB assemble alternatives and related expenses.

Flexible PCB’s Applications

The advantages of adaptable PCBs unmistakably match for many scopes of utilizations in ventures, for example, Transportation, Military, Consumer Electronics, Medical, Aerospace, Automotive, Industrial, and Communications. Flexible PCBs are generally utilized in different gadgets that are able to be arranged as:

– Dynamic: In powerful applications, the flex PCBs are consistently flexed/moved during use.Instances of dynamic usages/applications incorporate Laptops, Flip smartphones, etc.

– Static: There are some applications that need flexible PCB to serve just as a circuitry without the requirement for development. For instance, including Airbag system, Cameras, Calculators, etc.

High-Density and High-Temperature Applications:

As a rule, flexible circuits are produced of PI or a comparative polymer. This kind of material disseminates heat which is preferable than most unbending PCB materials. Hence, adaptable circuitries can be put in not convenient areas where warmth would affect the exhibition of an unbending circuit board.

High-density flexible PCB

Figure 7. High-density flexible PCB

Flexible PCBs can be intended to withstand extraordinary temperatures (-200°C – 400°C) which clarifies why these PCBs are so alluring for borehole estimations in the gas and oil industry. Actually, as a result from these situations, and the requirement for little, unpretentious gadgets in most mechanical situations, adaptable circuits speak to the best option for building structure in most modern sensor innovations. High-temperature obstruction comes normally accompanies great substance opposition and amazing protection from UAV and radiation introduction also. Joined with the capacity to manage impedances at high-thickness PCB designs, flex PCB designs offer numerous advantages to makers,Also high temperatures is easy to for flex pcb assembly.

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