Flexible PCB or Flexible Circuit Board or Flex PCB is a patterned arrangement of printed circuitry and components that utilizes flexible based material with or without flexible coverlay. FPCBs are used widely in everyday technology and electronics in addition to high-end, complex completed components. In transportation they are extensively used due to their improved resistance to vibrations and movement. Flexible electronic assemblies are fabricated using the same components used for rigid printed circuit boards, but allowing the board to conform to a desired shape (flex) during its application.
Types of Flex Circuit Boards
- Single-sided Flex PCB Circuit Boards
- Double access or back bared Flex PCB Circuit Boards
- Sculptured Flex PCB Circuit Boards
- Double-sided Flex PCB Circuit Boards
- Multilayer Flex PCB Circuit Boards
- Rigid-Flex PCB Circuit Boards
- Polymer thick film Flex PCB Circuit Boards
Advantages of Flexible PCBs
- Reduced wiring errors – Very little or no wiring is required that eliminates wire connection failure and increases the reliability of the device.
- Flex PCB use in 3D designs eliminates connectors, while the number of bending cycles can be as many as 200,000
- Anti-Vibration Benefits – Added flexibility and lighter weights allow the flex circuits to absorb and reduce the impact of the vibration to itself as well as any solder joints in connections
- Elimination of mechanical connectors – The elastic nature of the flex PCB allows placement around edges and folds
- Higher circuit density – The flexible nature of the flex circuit boards are used in electronic devices that require 3 axes connections.
- More robust operating temperature range
- Improved reliability and impedance control
- Size and weight reduction – Flex PCBs save up to 60% of the weight and space compared to Rigid PCB or wire harness applications.
Disadvantages of Flexible PCBs
- Higher material cost than rigid or rigid flex PCB
- More difficult & complex assembly
- Low temperature ability in flex circuits
- Difficult or impossible to repair once damaged
- Easily damaged through improper handling (easy to bend and dent)
- Sensitive to scratching
- Requires proper storage conditions (sulfur free plastic)
Because of the advantages (for example, cost, space, and weight savings) that flexible and Rigid-Flex-circuit boards are for some specific projects, they are used ever more frequently. You should discuss the selected materials and design for the construction and layout of flexible circuit boards with PCB vendors in the planning phase; they can assist you to work out the optimum solution.