6 Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCB over Flexible PCB
At present, the rigid-flex PCB and flexible PCB are both used commonly in the electronic and electrical industry. As the demand for smaller and lighter devices increased, PCB developers embraced the task of manufacturing high-performance boards with minimum size and form to satisfy the needs of the customers and clients alike. However, the rigid-flex is preferred over the flex (FPC). Why? you can find out the reason from the aspects of reliability, durability, weight, strength, and time and cost-effectiveness.
6 Advantages of Rigid-Flex PCB Over the FPC
Generally, a rigid-flex PCB is preferred for the below features:
1. Reliability and Durability
Reliability is the most important consideration for electronic devices. A rigid-flex PCB offers high connection reliability compared to a flexible PCB because of fewer solder joints. Also, due to the presence of complex mechanical designs, it is more durable than a simple flexible PCB. That’s why the rigid-flex is used effectively for optimized housing solutions.
2. Qualities of both Circuitry
We know that a rigid-flex PCB consists of both rigid and flexible layers, so it has the flexibility to fit into any device. Plus, we can increase its rigidity according to our requirements. In other words, it provides both mechanical support/rigidity and flexibility at an optimum level without the risk of breakdown. Its corners are made flexible to fit into any device. Contrarily, a flexible board is designed specifically to offer enough flexibility and bending resistance.
3. Repair & Maintenance Work
it is very convenient to do any routine repair and maintenance work in a rigid-flex PCB. Its all components are clearly labeled and the technician can easily assemble or disassemble them if the need arises for repairing. On the other hand, repair and maintenance of a flexible PCB are complex and difficult as it requires a complete overhaul of the base map. A protective layer covers/protects its surface that needs to be removed to do any repairs and then put back after the repair work. So repairing FPC becomes a costly and complex process.
4. Assembly Process
A rigid-flex PCB has a simple assembly process and all its components can easily be identified and re-worked. On the other hand, the assembly process of a flexible PCB is complex and costly because of the poor utilization of the panel. It includes repeatable installation and wire routing making it a difficult process.
5. Resistance to Temperature and Aggressive Conditions
A rigid-flex can withstand sufficiently high temperatures, harmful chemicals, and damaging oils. It also offers more resistance to UV and other deleterious radiations. While a flexible PCB can provide sufficient resistance to temperature, but at high temperatures, its performance is affected.
Rigid-flex PCBs are cost-effective due to the fewer number of parts, connections and assemblies required. However, most flexible PCBs are manufactured to fulfill specific requirements, and hence the initial cost of circuit design, and layout to develop the final product is relatively high.
Difference Between a Rigid-Flex PCB and a flexible PCB
Flexible PCBs, also known as flex printed circuit boards, are made from circuits and parts that employ any flexible material. It often contains a protective cover layer. On the other hand, a rigid-flex PCB is manufactured by combining the technologies of both flexible and rigid boards. It is manufactured by joining various layers of flexible circuit substrates to one or more rigid circuits. The connections can be either internally or externally or both which depends upon your requirement. It gives the shape of a spring that can be compressed or stretched.
A flexible PCB is vulnerable to internal and external damages due to less rigidity, especially during improper handling of the operation. Hence a professional technician is required for its soldering and repair. While a rigid-flex PCB offers a significantly high degree of resistance to damages.
The flexible PCBs have accrued worldwide acceptance in many domestic and commercial industries and applications because of their functional versatility. But they have certain disadvantages like assembling PCBs, high initial cost, less resistance to temperature, serious issues pertaining to design, and difficulty in repair & maintenance. Hence, a rigid-flex PCB is used more than a flexible PCB. The latter includes characteristics of both rigid and flexible boards. A rigid-flex PCB can also be surface mounted easily on both sides.
In a nutshell, it can be said that rigid-flex PCBs offer a wide array of advantages over a flexible PCB, be it higher reliability, durability, cost-effectiveness, resistance to temperature, and other aggressive conditions. That is why the majority of smart control and high-performance electronic systems employ rigid-flex PCB.
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