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PCB/PCBA knowledge
Your-guide-to-rigid-flex-PCB-–-design,-manufacturing-and-application

In general, a PCB or a printed circuit board is typically utilized in different types of electronic devices. Actually, different components such as resistors are connected on the board so that they can perform their functions. A PCB consists of many insulating and conductive layers. It is important to note that conductive layers have rather unique patterns and these unique patterns facilitate the proper function of PBC. Typically, there exist different kinds of PBCs and some of them are as follows:

• Rigid PCB
Flexible PCB
• Rigid-flex PCB
Single-layer PCB
• Double-layer PCB
• Multi-layer PCB
In this article, there is a comprehensive discussion about rigid-flex PCB and what it means.

Table of Contents

What is rigid-flex PCB?

what-is-a-rigid-flex-PCB

When it comes to the rigid-flex PCB, it is recognized for possessing contradictory properties. For instance, it has the ability to both fold and bend while staying consistent and stable. It is important to note that it is made up of a combination of rigid and flexible technologies. It comprises a flexible circuit’s multiple layers that are connected to the board. It is possible for the attachment to be either external or internal. In addition, the connection between the rigid board and the circuit is made in such a manner that it remains permanent. Actually, this unique combination is what makes this type of PCB different from other types of PCBs.

What materials are commonly used in rigid-flex PCB?

The rigid-flex PCB is composed of different materials. When it comes to standard PCBs, it should be noted that they are developed using either fiberglass or a metal base. In contrast, the flexible polymer is utilized for creating rigid-flex PCB. Also, polyimide (PI) film is used in most of the flex PCB as a substrate. It is worth noting that when polyimide film is considered and used, it does not soften under temperature. This property of PI film makes it a superior material to be used in the construction of the rigid-flex PCB. Before, an adhesive was used as a base material in the rigid-flex PCB but now it has been replaced by adhesiveness PI which is attached to the copper with an adhesive.

Features of rigid-flex PCB

Features-of-rogid-flex-pcb

Rigid-flex PCBs have two different kinds. One is known as dynamic flex and the other is known as flex to install.

  • Dynamic flex

The dynamic flex rigid-flex PCB is used at the time when the user needs to fold and bend at the time of use. This means that the dynamic flex has the ability to fold and bend as per the requirement of the product. This characteristic of dynamic flex makes it more durable and has the tendency to survive through the thousand flex cycles.

  • Flex to install

This type of rigid-flex PCB is most commonly used. The flex to install has the ability to fold only once that is at the time of assembling the product and the rest of the time it is stable and sturdy.

Benefits and limitations of rigid-flex PCB

Benefits-and-limitations-of-a-rigid-flex-PCB

  • Benefits

There are many advantages of rigid-PCB flex. Some of them are as below:
Small packaging size: the rigid-flex PCB has reduced the need for large packaging because of its compact size. Actually, it can be utilized easily in even small devices.
Unique dynamic stability: this is the best quality of the rigid-flex PCB. It is worth noting that it possesses the ability to bend or flex without being damaged.
Easy to repair: because of the 3D design of the rigid-flex PCB it is very easy to bend, twist, or fold for the technician.

  • Limitations

The product also has some limitations as below:
Expensive cost: because of the preciseness of the rigid-flex PCB, the product has a higher price.
More focus while manufacturing: for the rigid-flex PCB to be effective in working, the manufacturers need to work with 200 percent focus to avoid any error.

What are the applications of rigid-flex PCB?

There is no doubt that these types of PCBs are usually utilized in different electronic items and products. In fact, the utilization of these PCBs can be observed in both the commercial and industrial sectors. In fact, even in some regular devices such as cameras and smartphones, these PCBs are used. The application of rigid-flex PCBs is essential in the medical field. The product is used for developing peacemakers for the purpose of weight reduction, flexible capabilities, and space.

How to manufacture a rigid-flex PCB?

How-to-manufacture-a-rigid-flex-PCB

The rigid-flex PCB can be manufactured in the following steps:
• Adhesive seed coating applied
• Copper foil added
Drilling
• Through-hole plating
• Etch-resist printing
• Etching and stripping
• Cover coat or cover lay
• Cutting out the flex
• Lamination and routing
All these steps collectively result in developing an effective rigid-flex PCB.

What factors should be considered in rigid-PCB designing?

What-factors-should-be-considered-in-rigid-PCB-designing

Manufacturing a rigid-flex PCB is very complex and thus there are certain things that need to be considered during the process to avoid any kind of error.

  • Consider the power and ground planes. These planes should be built inside the board and should be symmetrical which will help the board from twisting or blowing.
  • The traces of the track design should be short and direct. This will help the signal flows to the entire board without any hurdle in the way.
  • Pad and hole dimensions are very important while building up the rigid-flex PCB. The dimension of both the hole and pad should match each other for the proper working of the board.
  • The signal integrity should be ensured by avoid them from running parallel to each other. This will avoid any outer signal to interact with the rigid-flex PCB.
  • While developing the rigid-flex PCB, the thermal issue should be resolved by dissipating the thermal energy.

How to select a rigid-flex PCB manufacturer?

It is very important to select the right manufacturer for the rigid-flex PCB. Certain things need to be considered before making any decision.

  • The certifications and standards of the PCB manufacturer should be checked. This helps in getting a review about the company which leads to the easiness of choosing the manufacturer.
  • The second factor is to look for the rigid-flex PCB manufacturer experience. A company that has more experience is more likely to be authentic and professional in its work.
  • Then check for the quality of the rigid-flex manufacturer products. Quality is what all matters. If the quality is good, it means the product will work effectively.
  • Take a look at the customer support of any rigid-flex PCB manufacturer. Customers are true and give an honest review. By looking at customer support, it is easy to have an idea about the manufacturer.
  • See whether the manufacturer uses quality machinery for manufacturing the rigid-flex PCB or not. Quality machinery is what builds up a quality product.

IBE is the reliable rigid-flex PCB manufacturer in the market as we fulfill all the requirements and factors for manufacturing the rigid-flex PCB.

you asked we answer

 A rigid-flex PCB is one of the types of PCB which combines a rigid PCB and a flex PCB.

  • Benefits
  1. Small packaging size
  2. Unique dynamic stability
  3. Easy to repair
  • Limitation
  1. Expensive cost
  2. More focus while manufacturing
  • Adhesive seed coating applied
  • Copper foil added
  • Drilling
  • Through-hole plating
  • Etch-resist printing
  • Etching and stripping
  • Cover coat or cover lay
  • Cutting out the flex
  • Lamination and routing

Conclusion

Overall, it can be said that rigid-flex PCB is a rather critical form or type of PCB. This is because it has a unique structure that fulfills the need of the consumer. A rigid-flex PCB has several benefits that are necessary to be part of it in order to function well in the devices that it is connected to. the property of rigid-flex PCB to bend or fold without any damage to itself is what makes it unique from other types of PCBs.

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