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An Introduction to Rigid-Flex PCBs

What is a Rigid-Flex PCBs?

Rigid-Flex printed circuit boards are designed to provide solutions, and act as replacements for rigid PCBs. As the name suggests, these circuit boards are a hybrid of flex and rigid circuits. The advantage of this type is that they exhibit the benefits of both rigid as well as flexible circuit boards.

Most rigid-flex circuit boards consist of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates attached to rigid boards externally and/or internally. The flexible substrates are designed to be in a constant state of flex, and are usually formed in a flexed curve during manufacturing or installation. This is dependent upon the design of the application.

Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCBs

The combination of these two circuits makes it an extremely beneficial product for both applications as well as customers.

  • Dynamism: Flexible circuits give you unlimited freedom of packaging geometry while retaining the precision density and repeatability of printed circuits.
  • Mechanical Stability: The interchanging layers of circuits form a strong foundation. The rigid boards provide stability, while flexible boards provide the flexibility required for installation in small spaces.
  • Space and Money Savings: The use of rigid-flex circuit boards can result in immense reduction in total PCB costs and expenditures.
  • Security: It provides secure connections for other components, providing stability and polarity. It also helps to reduce the number of connector components in an application.

Other common benefits include flexible design options, high circuit board density, high heat dissipation, and excellent resistance to chemicals, radiation, and ultra violet rays.

Applications of Rigid-Flex PCBs

Rigid-flex circuit boards can be found in commercial as well as industrial applications. These can range anywhere from electronic devices, to high grade aircraft mounted weapon guidance systems. 

Rigid-flex PCBs are a sought-after solution for industrial applications. They are mainly used in military, aerospace, and medical devices, as they can reduce the product’s weight. This enhances the device’s performance to a great extent. Rigid-Flex circuit boards also support construction of devices at feasible rates. This is due to their low weight and small size. 

Other examples of rigid-flex PCBs applications include:

  • Smart Jackets
  • Cell Phones
  • Pacemakers
  • CT Scanners
  • ABS Sensors
  • Digital Cameras
  • Computer Servers
  • USB and Ethernet
  • Bar Code Scanners

The various advantages of design, function, and application, makes rigid-flex circuit boards the optimum solution for commercial and industrial applications, which require powerful components that can fit into small sized applications.

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