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What Are the Differences Between a Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs?

First, let’s get to know both types of printed circuit boards, as well as the differences between them.

Flexible PCBs got their name for their flexibility. Their most significant advantage is that they can be designed to suit the device or product. That means the manufacturers do not need to think about the shape of the board when designing a product. Instead, the PCB can adapt to the item to fit into the current design.

Flex-rigid printed circuit boards are somewhere between the classic rigid PCBs and the modern flex ones. They use both types of circuitry and usually have multiple layers that use flexible or inflexible insulation as per the client’s wishes.

The choice between the two PCB types depends on your preference and your product’s needs. Both flex-rigid and flexible printed circuit boards can deliver consistent performance. That is why we should look at their various applications so that you can choose the ideal model for you.

The Benefits of Using Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs

Are you wondering whether it is a good idea to buy a flex or flex-rigid PCB? Check out this list of benefits that these PCBs can provide:

• A great option when you have a limited space to fit a PCB. The boards are bendy, and you can use them at desired angles. That means you can get creative when it comes to their form.

• You can order a custom shape of the board. As long as you have exact specifications for a PCB that fits your product, the chances are that a reliable manufacturer can complete your order. It is suggested to be precise in providing dimensions to ensure that the board fits your item.

• If you are working on a product or device that needs to be light and of compact size furthermore, these boards are often used in portable products.

• They are an excellent choice when you need mobility and motion. If the product you are working on will be moved frequently (for example, smartphones), you can’t expect rigid boards to provide a reliable solution. That is why flex-rigid and flex PCBs were designed as an alternative.

What Is the Best Way to Use Flexible PCBs?

We already mentioned that you should go for flexible circuits whenever you need a high level of adaptability without compromising performance. For example, the specific design of your product may require some bending to be made during the PCB assembly. If warping is necessary, flex boards are the right way to go.

Let’s take a look at the most frequent uses of flexible printed circuit boards:

1. Computer electronics – printers, gaming systems, microwaves, and televisions all use flex PCBs, but their most common application in this area is hard drives. Thanks to the flexibility offered, hard drives can remain light and small while withstanding high temperatures and performing at desired speeds.

2. Automotive industry – you can find flex PCBs in numerous models of modern vehicles. They are usually an integral part of the board computer, but you will find them in air-bag controllers, braking and dash systems, and many other components. They are convenient for cars because they can be manufactured in an irregular shape to fit in spaces where bending is required.

3. Smartphones – the reason why flex PCBs are an excellent choice for smartphones is to keep their compact size. It is challenging to fit a rigid board in a restricted space, so many manufacturers resort to flexible boards. Apart from the size, a flex PCB keeps smartphones light and easily portable. Over the last couple of years, we have seen cellphones with flexible screens, and they were made possible thanks to the flex boards.

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