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What Are the Limitations of Flex PCB?

Limitations of Flex PCB

The most common PCBs are rigid PCBs. They are a good choice for most applications, but there are situations where flex or rigid-flex PCBs are more suitable. Flex PCBs have many advantages, such as their mechanical flexibility, small size and low cost. They can be used in a variety of different applications, including medical devices, portable electronics, IoT devices and consumer electronics. However, flex pcb aren’t without their limitations. Some of these limitations include lower mechanical strength, difficult design and layout and limited component options.

The bare costs of flex pcb are higher than rigid ones because of the extra steps that go into their fabrication. However, cost optimization techniques like order consolidation, design reuse and requirement simplification help manage the high price. Other factors that can impact the bare cost of a flex circuit include the number of layers and the amount of copper. The number of layers is an important factor because a multilayer flex circuit takes longer to fabricate, and some pricing models directly factor in the layer count.

One of the biggest issues with flex pcb is that they are more prone to damage than rigid PCBs. The copper thickness in flex circuits is much thinner, and the material moves and compresses more than rigid boards. This makes it more difficult to keep traces within their bending tolerances.

What Are the Limitations of Flex PCB?

The use of wide end cutouts or slits helps reduce the risk of damage, but they are not always possible. In addition, it is important to keep the area around bends free of discontinuities, such as vias and plated through holes. Conductors should be kept as close to the neutral bending axis as possible, and the minimum bend radius should be larger than the maximum conductor diameter. It is also beneficial to use teardrop (pad fillets) shaped vias, which are smaller than standard thru-holes and less likely to cause stress concentration spots.

Another limitation of flex pcb is that they often require special connectors and cables to connect the parts. This is because they are more complex than regular rigid PCBs and have more connections. In some cases, it may be cheaper to design a harness cable or connector for a flex circuit than to redesign the PCB.

In some cases, a flexible circuit needs to be tested after the manufacturing process is complete. The test is done to ensure that the flex circuit operates properly and doesn’t have any defects. Typically, the test is conducted by an independent lab that has experience in testing electronic components. These tests can be costly, but they are necessary for a high-quality, reliable flex circuit. A good flex circuit manufacturer will offer this service as part of the manufacturing process. The lab will provide a certificate of conformance to the relevant standards after the test is complete. The manufacturer will then send the certificate to the customer. The certificate can then be used to determine if the flex circuit meets all of the requirements for a particular application.

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