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What are the advantages of using rigid flex circuits?

advantages of using rigid flex circuits

Rigid flex circuits combine the best of rigid and flexible PCB designs by using the rigid design in areas where extra support is needed and around corners. These circuits are often used in a variety of applications including consumer electronics, medical devices, and automotive systems. Rigid flex circuits provide many benefits over traditional wired products especially when system miniaturization and fast or weak signals need to be transmitted reliably in critical environments.

Rigid-flex circuits offer connection reliability that is second to none. Since they are not made from multiple rigid boards with wires between them, contact crimps and solder joints are eliminated. This reduces points of failure which is particularly important for sensitive industries like military and medical applications where any product issues could be dangerous or even life-threatening.

They also allow a smaller and lighter product as there is no need for the complex connectors that are required by wired solutions. This can reduce the weight of a product by 10% or more (Figure 1) and can make it easier to place in an enclosure. This can save on manufacturing costs for the company producing the product and also reduce the assembly time as there is no need to install a wire harness.

The rigid-flex circuits can be designed in a 3D format which means that they can be folded, twisted and bent to fit a specific product shape. This is important because it allows designers to come up with new and innovative product designs that would be impossible or extremely difficult with a rigid board alone. This can create a more competitive edge for companies designing and manufacturing electronic devices.

What are the advantages of using rigid flex circuits?

Another benefit is that they are easy to repair and maintain. Rigid-flex circuits are able to be folded and twisted, so technicians can access any area that has a fault without the need for the complicated connectors and wiring assemblies that are required by other products. This also makes them a great choice for the production of portable products where the circuits will be in use frequently.

These benefits are just a few of the reasons why it’s important to choose high-quality rigid flex circuits when you need them. It is worth spending the additional money up front to get a quality design and manufacture that will last for a long time and provide you with significant cost savings down the line.

When choosing a rigid-flex design, it’s essential to consider the mechanical stress that will be placed on the flex sections. This is especially true for the bending area, where the pads and traces will need to be carefully considered. Ideally, they should be routed perpendicular to the bending lines and there should be no vias or plated holes in this area. It’s also a good idea to add dummy traces in this area to avoid premature failure due to the flex section absorbing mechanical stress and fatigue.

It is also important to consider the material options for the rigid-flex circuits, particularly the conductive copper layers. It is recommended to choose a thicker copper layer for the flex section and a thinner one for the rigid sections, as this will help prevent them from becoming too thin and vulnerable to damage. A photo-imageable solder mask should be a standard feature for both the rigid and flex sections as this will increase the reliability of the circuits when they are exposed to heat during reflow processing.


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