Trying to adhere to the definitive requirements of an electronic device can be a hard task. It is even harder if it is a rigid PCB design. Thanks to technology and innovation, some tech-firms have developed different rigid-flex innovations that offer users with an array of solutions for this popular design. Introducing a flexible region to a PCB requires a designer to keep in mind the conventional rigid PCB designs.
What Is Rigid Flex PCB?
These are boards that have both the rigid and flexible printed circuit boards enjoined by lamination. As such, coming up with a rigid-flex PCB involves layering. A number of flexible substrates are attached on rigid layers. Layering can be done internally or externally depending on the requirements of the design.
In a rigid-flex design, the rigid and flexible layers have conductors plated together through small holes.
Rigid flex PCBs are said to provide improved electrical performance and enhanced stability.
Things to Put into Consideration in Flex-Rigid PCB Designs
Designers must consider things such as
- The intended purpose of the product in question
- Material types
- The documentation by manufacturers
- Ensuring that the development will be seamless.
Materials Used In a Flex Circuit
To create a flex circuit, engineers need;
- Flexible substrate material such as polyimide. Common polyimides include Kapton and Kaptrex.
- Copper; this can be wrought copper or rolled and annealed copper.
- Adhesive; mostly acrylic
3D PCB Editor from Altium
Altium designers have continually developed software for use by engineers. 3D PCB editor is a program that allows users to view and amend the flexible boards. It also provides for bending and folding. The program also allows users to:
- Create high-quality 3D videos and print-outs. This is an added advantage to both the designer and the manufacturer as they get to see how it’s supposed to operate beforehand.
- Ensure that components comfortably fit during folding.
- Reduces the need for many tangible prototypes as one can easily find out if the board can fit in a given product’s housing.
Altium’s PCB editor supports a maximum of 32 signal layers and 16 plane ones. Insulation is done to separate the copper layers. A plain rigid PCB has copper and insulating layers all across the whole board.
Altium offers a 15-day free trial. Once impressed, a full version is available at reasonable prices.
Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCBs
Since they are double sided, they are ideal for flex circuits where components are required to be placed on both sides of the board.
They provide high vibration resistance. This is because they integrate rigid areas with flex ones.
Upon complete installation, one can realize a reduced cost of ownership. Rigid-flex rules out rigid-to-flex connections which improve stability and reliability.
Allows for mounting of high mass components. Heavy weighted components require rigid boards. A rigid-flex board gives a fine movement from the rigid to flex areas.
Electronic technology has experienced massive advancements today. This has come with a notable share of challenges for designers. Fortunately, rigid-flex designs have come in handy providing a solution for dense PCBs.