The world of technology is constantly innovating and evolving, especially today in the digital age dominated by smartphones and laptops. As society ponders what the next big invention will be, it’s also important to consider the many great technologies we have available to us already. One of the things that helps to power computers and laptops, as well as other various technological devices, are flexible printed circuit boards.
Flexible printed circuit boards, or flexible PCBs, is a technology used for assembling electronic circuits. This is done by mounting electronic devices on flexible plastic substrates, such as polyimide, PEEK, or transparent conductive polyester film. Because of their similarity in makeup to rigid printed circuit boards they are also sometimes called rigid flex circuits.
Here are a coupe things to know about this technology that helps to improve our lives every day.
- Technical Specifications: Flexible printed circuit boards are typically built on flexible high-temperature plastic (Kapton or the equivalent). That being said, just like no two manufacturing process are the same, so is the case with flexible printed circuit board design. Usually PCBs are made through photolithographic technology.
- Advantages of Flexible Printed Circuit Boards: There are many benefits to using flexible PCBs. First, they have the potential to replace multiple rigid boards and/or connectors down to just one simple unit. Another is that single-sided circuits are ideal for high-flex or dynamic applications. Finally, you can stack PCBs in a variety of different configurations depending on your needs and desires.
- What They Are Used For: Whenever flexibility, space saving, or production constraints may limit the usability of rigid circuit boards, flexible PCBs are what are used. Computer keyboards, Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), and instrument panels in vehicles are common places that flexible PCBs can be found.
The ideas behind flexible PCBs has been around for years, but recently the usage has exploded thank to the way society in general has moved. One needs to only look at the numbers to see just how significant this field really is. The overall revenue of circuit board and electronic component manufacturing in the U.S. ranged at about $44 billion in 2014 alone. A lot of that money went to flexible printed circuit boards.