As increasingly more designs move to flexible materials to take advantage of space, weight or packaging benefits, it has been clear that flexible circuits require a different set of rules than their rigid counterparts. We spend substantial time working through the design to ensure that he flex is as robust as possible. We also spend quite a bit of time on material selection, again to ensure that the flexible circuit withstands the flexing that will be required and performs properly in the end environment.
One thing we do not often talk about is what happens behind the scenes during the fabrication and assembly of the flexible circuit. What types of special handling considerations are in place throughout the manufacturing process to accommodate these thin materials? When you are auditing a potential new supplier, what should you be asking about and looking for in their procedures?
Undoubtedly, the largest source of defects in flexible circuit manufacturing can be traced back to material handling. Drawing from my own knowledge and soliciting the expertise of several industry veterans involved in flex circuit manufacturing—David Moody with Lenthor Engineering, Anaya Vardya with American Standard Circuits, Jim Barry with Eltek, and Mike Vinson with Averatek—I have put together an insider’s view of the nuances involved in manufacturing flexible circuits.
To read the full version of this article which appeared in the March 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.