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How Do Flex PCBs Perform in High-Flexure Applications?

Flex PCBs Perform in High-Flexure Applications

The flexibility of flex pcbs allows them to bend and adapt to different spaces that are not well-suited for rigid circuit boards. This enables the use of smaller components and helps to reduce the overall weight of the device. However, despite their flexible nature they are not immune to stress and may experience issues that are specific to their use case. The most common issue is damage caused by high-flexure applications. Fortunately, there are a few guidelines to follow that can help prevent damage and minimize potential issues.

When designing a flex PCB, it is important to consider the expected mechanical and electrical requirements of the device. This includes understanding the components to be used and their location within the PCB, as well as the traces that will connect them. This will allow the designer to create a circuit board that meets both these needs.

A flex PCB is usually made from a flexible substrate such as a polyester or polyimide material. The copper layers are printed on the substrate using a photochemical etching process. Then, holes are drilled and plated to connect the copper traces on each layer of the substrate. Finally, a solder mask is applied to protect the copper traces from corrosion and oxidation.

How Do Flex PCBs Perform in High-Flexure Applications?

Flex pcbs are typically constructed from single-sided and double-sided printed circuits. Single-sided flex circuits have a single conductor layer on a flexible dielectric film. They are the most commonly used flex circuits and are found in calculators, printers, and other small electronic devices. Double-sided flex circuits have two conductor layers on a flexible dielectric film and are printed on both sides. They offer increased power handling capabilities and higher circuit density, but they are more expensive to produce than single-sided flex circuits.

Because a flex circuit is more prone to movement and contraction, it is important to ensure that the drill-to-copper distance is adequate. This will help to reduce the risk of the copper traces getting lifted off the substrate. It is also important to choose a conductive material that is flexible, tough, and durable. The best option is an organic polyimide substrate, as it is extremely flexible and tolerant of product assembly processes.

Another important factor to consider is the stack up of your flex circuit. It is recommended to stagger traces in areas that will be flexed, rather than stacking them together. Staggering the traces will reduce stress on the copper and decrease the likelihood of them failing due to excessive strain. It is also a good idea to add anchor points to vias or plated through-holes in flex areas, so that they are less likely to lift.

Lastly, it is important to avoid using solid grounds on a flex circuit. This can cause the copper to crack and fail due to stress. Instead, use a hatched ground to maintain impedance control while still providing flexibility. Similarly, avoid placing vias close to stiffeners as they can crack and break very quickly.

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