Flexible circuitry offers so many benefits including, design freedom, Space and Weight Savings, cost savings in production, high reliability and more.
Design Freedom – The most immediate benefit that flexible circuits give a package designer is an almost unlimited degree of design freedom.
Flex circuits can fit in tight spaces. They can bend, fold, twist, change in width many times and even flex from a rolled configuration. This gives the package designer the freedom to relocate other parts and subassemblies where they will optimize circuit and equipment operation. The designer is no longer restricted by the space demands of bulky, rigid PC boards.
Simplifying circuit geometry and placing surface mount devices directly on the circuit can also improve the circuit design. Intricate patterns that may be difficult to achieve with rigid board connector pins can be designed into the flexible circuit artwork. Greater circuit complexity is achieved in a much smaller space.
Space and Weight Savings – Because flexible circuits can be bent, twisted and rolled to suit the contour of the equipment, designers can enjoy a space savings of up to 75%.
The larger surface-to-volume ratio of flexible circuits also allows increased heat dissipation and lighter current capacity. Denser device populations and lighter conductors can be designed into a product, freeing space for additional product features.
Even used as a flat circuit, flex saves space. The typical hard board is 62 mils thick, while a flex circuit is a mere to 4 to 11 mils. The different raw materials used in flex also offer a weight savings as high as 70% versus the rigid board.
High Reliability and Durability – Flexible circuits are made from precise replicas of artwork for superior manufacturing repeatability.
The etched circuits replace the solder and hand wiring connections of the rigid board, completely eliminating wiring errors.
The durability of the KAPTON polyimide survives vibration and shock that would damage a rigid board. KAPTON also provides increased thermal conductivity, providing an ideal thermal path to a heat sink. In designs that have moving parts, the flexible circuit can move and flex up to 500 million times without a failure. The exceptional thermal stability of KAPTON also allows the circuit to with stand applications with extreme heat.
Cost Savings in Production – Production of designs using flexible circuits requires less manual labor and reduces the probability of production errors.
The use of flexible circuits eliminates the high cost of routing, wrapping, and soldering wires.
Complete interconnection systems are installed or replaced, rather than individual hard PC boards. This greatly eliminates wiring errors and reduces manufacturing costs. This automation also reduces the chance of human error and increases reliability in the design.
Low volume applications benefit the most when circuit designs are very complex. Most high volume applications get lower production costs regardless of the complexity of the circuit. In addition, as simpler, more direct methods of integrating circuits are discovered, the cost savings realized by flex increases. The use of conductive ink, anisotropic adhesives, and additive circuitry are ideal in designs using flex.