Today, flexible printed circuit boards are highly in demand just like rigid PCBs. However, flexible PCBs can guarantee significant cost savings with regards to small footprint and weight when compared to their rigid counterparts. Even though the assembly of flexible PCBs has evolved over time, there are factors businesses must consider when building their first PCBs. This post will give you the important factors to address during your flexible PCB manufacturing.
Flexibility and Bendability
Even though flexible PCBs are flexible and bendable, they may cause limitations in some applications. These restrictions may cause breakage of the circuit board or endanger the performance of your electric circuit. This problem can be avoided by addressing the bendability and flexibility of your PCBs. You need to know the number of times your PCBs will flex and bend as it will help you choose between static and dynamic boards. Static boards will only bend during the installation time but they can withstand bending 100 times more during their lifetime. This is unlike dynamic boards that cannot support unlimited bending and flexing and are ideal for mission-critical applications. A good PCB fabrication company will help you make an informed decision.
Determine the Materials to Use
Polyamide can be used for both flexible core layers and coverlay layers. Polyamide maintains even thickness throughout the circuit board. Polyamide flex cores are made up of rolled electro-deposited copper or annealed copper that is extremely thing. This makes it a perfect choice for both flexible and static applications. These two kinds of flexible polyamide materials are readily available an adhesive material that has its copper bonded to polyamide using acrylic adhesive and an adhesive-less material where copper is directly cast on the polyamide. All these materials have their advantages and disadvantages and you need to make a wide decision.
Flex Trace Routing
The circuit layout plays an important role in the PCB functioning and it can break or make your circuit board. Therefore, you need to choose between curved traces or angular traces. Curved traces tend to be better than angled traces because they cause less stress on the printed circuit board. It is recommended that you decrease the I-beaming or you avoid it completely to lower the stress on the PCBs. When you work with the right PCB fabrication company, your flex trace routing issues will be addressed.
Safeguard Flexible Layers
You can protect the flexible layers of your flexible printed circuit boards by positioning them at the center of the stack up. This will help to avoid exposure of the layers to plating of the outer layers. By placing the flexible layer on the middle part of the stack up, you will also be simplifying the overall PCB manufacturing procedures and enhancing impedance and control.
EMI and RF Shielding Options
Flexible PCBs may be subjected to receiving or emitting electromagnetic or EM waves and radio frequency or RF waves. Extra copper layers are added to avoid this problem. Copper layers can be added as solid hatched planes or cross-hatched planes that are connected to the ground and signal layers are then sandwiched between them. Silver ink layers and shielding films can also be used to reduce the EMI and RF interferences. All of these components have their benefits and disadvantages and you must understand them and make the right decision.
There are various factors that contribute to the performance of flexible circuit boards. You can ensure you get the best flexible PCBs by partnering with an experienced and trusted PCB fabrication company. With the right company, you will have experts who will guide you on these essential factors regardless of whether you are building your flexible PCBs for the first time or not.