From cell phones to instrument panels, computer keyboards to GPS trackers, flexible printed circuit boards help run the electronics that make our lives better. The versatility of flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) makes them ideal for numerous applications where flexibility, space limitations, or production constraints do not permit the use of rigid PCBs. Printed circuit board manufacturers can configure circuitry to fit the device, rather than being restricted by the circuit board to a particular design.
Advantages of Flexible Printed Circuit Boards
- Flexibility – The most obvious benefit of using flexible PCBs is the elastic performance of the board itself. Flexible PCBs can be positioned on edges and corners, and are able to be creased or folded. This feature allows size reduction of devices, without which miniaturization would not be possible.
- Thickness and Weight – Flexible PCBs can be made very thin and can be substantially lighter than rigid PCBs.
- Vibration Resistance – With less weight and more flexibility, flexible PCBs can withstand a greater degree of vibration without sacrificing performance.
- Reliability – Flexible circuit boards require fewer interconnections such as contact crimps, connectors, and solder joints. The fewer the interconnects, the fewer places a PCB can fail.
- Durability – The materials used in manufacturing flexible printed circuit boards can be moisture-proof, shock-proof, corrosion-resistant, and temperature-resistant. This allows devices with flexible PCBs to be used in harsher environments. For this reason, flexible PCBs are frequently used in military, medical, and aerospace applications.
- Enhanced Airflow – Versatility in design means flexible PCBs can be placed so as to permit cooling air to flow through the device.
- Resistance to Temperature Extremes – Flexible PCBs made of polyimide, which minimizes contraction and expansion, can withstand temperature extremes from – 200C to 400C.
- Cost Savings – The smaller area required by flexible PCBs reduces materials and finished assembly packaging. Fewer parts are needed, reducing assembly costs. Assembly errors are few because the flexible circuit board can only be installed one way—the correct way.
Applications for Flexible Printed Circuit Boards
Flexible printed circuit board manufacturers utilize flex PCBs in applications where precision accuracy and maximum flexing is required. Examples of flexible PCB applications include:
- Automobile Air Bags
- Antilock Braking Systems
- Bar Code Equipment
- Cell Phones
- Heart Monitors and Pacemakers
- Hearing Aids
A specialized flexible printed circuit board supplier can provide the expertise necessary to deliver the PCB product with the right specifications for the job.