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2022-03-14 175
Rigid-flex PCBs
Rigid Flex PCB Fabrication Applications
Rigid flex printed circuit boards are boards using a combination of flexible and rigid board technologies in an application. Most rigid flex boards consist of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates attached to one or more rigid boards externally and/or internally, depending upon the design of the application. The flexible substrates are designed to be in a constant state of flex and are usually formed into the flexed curve during manufacturing or installation.

Rigid flex designs are more challenging than the design of a typical rigid board environment, as these boards are designed in a 3D space, which also offers greater spatial efficiency. By being able to design in three dimensions designers can twist, fold and roll the flexible board substrates to achieve their desired shape for the final application’s package.
Rigid Flex PCB Technology and Production Process
Whether producing a rigid flex prototype or production quantities requiring large scale PCB fabrication and PCB assembly, the technology is well proven and reliable. The flex PCB portion is particularly good in overcoming space and weight issues with spatial degrees of freedom.

Careful consideration of flex-rigid solutions and a proper assessment of the available options at the early stages in the PCB design phase will return significant benefits. It is critical the PCB fabricator is involved early in the design process to ensure the design and fab portions are both in coordination and to account for final product variations.

The manufacturing phase is also more complex and time consuming than rigid board fabrication. All the flexible components of the rigid flex assembly have completely different handling, etching and soldering processes than rigid FR4 boards.
Benefits of Rigid Flex PCBs
Space requirements can be minimized by applying 3D
By removing the need for connectors and cables between the individual rigid parts the board size and overall system weight can be reduced.
By maximizing space, there is often a lower count in parts.
Less solder joints assure higher connection reliability.
Handling during assembly is easier in comparison with flexible boards.
Simplified PCB assembly processes.
Integrated ZIF contacts provide simple modular interfaces to the system environment.
Test conditions are simplified. A complete test prior to installation becomes possible.
Logistical and assembly costs are significantly reduced with flex-rigid boards.
It is possible to increase the complexity of mechanical designs, which also improves the degree of freedom for optimized housing solutions.

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