Do you need a PCB for your upcoming product, but you cannot decide on the type?
The good news is that you can choose between semi-rigid boards and those that are completely flexible. Our guide on flexible and flex-rigid printed circuit board applications should help you to make the right choice.
We will get to know important details and differences between the two PCB types. That’s not where we will stop as we will also discover the best manufacturer to place an order for your preferred boards.
1、What Are the Differences Between a Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs?
First, let’s get to know both types of the printed circuit boards, as well as differences between them.
Flexible PCBs got their name for their flexibility. Their biggest advantage is that they can be designed in a way that will 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 rigid 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 take a look at their various applications so that you can choose the ideal model for you.
Image 1: Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs
2、 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 clear 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.
Image 2: Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs
3、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 in 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 a great choice for smartphones is to keep their compact size. It is difficult to fit a rigid board in a restricted space, which is why 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.
4. Medical industry – flexible boards have a wide range of potential applications in medicine, too. A modern invention called a PillCam is a non-toxic small camera that patients swallow, and it gives them a look at the problems from inside the body. Flex PCBs are a part of these products.
Image 3: Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs
4、When Should I Use Flex-Rigid PCBs?
While flexible printed circuit boards are durable, if you want to take that durability to the next level, you will need flex-rigid PCBs. You won’t have as much adaptability, but they will provide a certain amount of motion, too.
Here are some industries in which flex-rigid boards are popular:
• Health gadgets
The primary use of flex-rigid PCBs in this field is for wearables. Smartwatches and fitness trackers are equipped with these components in most cases. You can also find them in other "smart" items, such as jewellery, clothes, and even medical items. Many gadgets can be used in medical purposes, such as providing information about heart rate and other important data.
• Industrial applications
Flex-rigid PCBs offer the best of both worlds – they have the durability of rigid boards, and they are flexible to some extent. The fact that they are strong enough to withstand extreme conditions while providing consistent performance is what recommends them for machinery. They replaced classic rigid boards in many devices to take the performance to the next level.
You will find many stores, including both online and offline, that use advanced products to track the items in their inventory. You have probably seen or used one of these devices. They remind of a PDA, and they are portable and light so they can easily pass through the warehouse. That is why you can find both flexible and flex-rigid PCBs in these devices.
Image 4: Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs
5、Who Is the Best Manufacturer of Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs?
If you set your mind on purchasing a printed circuit board, you want to choose a reliable manufacturer. One of the options may be picking a local supplier. However, that is a process that can take a lot of time as you will probably have to wait for a quote and days or weeks for the order to be completed.
That is why the smart option is to purchase PCBs online!
If you have never ordered printed circuit boards before, you may think the process is tricky. However, OurPCB offers many advantages that will make your choice simple and the ordering process as easy as ABC.
Let’s take a look at the benefits you can expect if you choose OurPCB:
• Rapid PCB prototype service
The PCB quotation system is efficient, and it secures instant quotes. The entire ordering process won’t last more than a couple of minutes, and you will also benefit from rapid delivery. The company can secure a 24-hour turnaround for double-sided PCBs, 48-hour completion for boards the have four to eight layers, and 120-hour turnaround for PCBs that have ten or more layers.
• Cash on delivery
At OurPCB, everyone is so certain that you will love the product that they offer cash on delivery service. That means you can see the quality of the board yourself, confirm that you are satisfied with the service, and pay. That means there is absolutely no-risk involved regarding the performance and quality of the PCB you are ordering.
• High-quality parts
The reason why the company is so confident in the performance of their circuit boards is the outstanding quality of the parts used. They obtain all components and materials from international websites with a special focus on finding only the best parts. That way, OurPCB manages to meet and exceed the expectations of the customers.
• Low cost.
If you order from OurPCB, you will get an excellent value for money regardless of the order size. The website also provides a special offer for first-time customers. You can spend $1 and receive three PCBs for the price. You can also take advantage of a coupon that costs $1 and can get you $100 to place an order. The company runs promotions regularly, and special deals are available during the holiday. That is why you should bookmark the website and visit it regularly!
Image 5: Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCBs
Printed circuit boards are incredibly useful and versatile devices. As you could see in this article, you can use them across many various industries. The best way to select between flexible and flex-rigid printed circuit board is to consider your particular product and application.
Based on the preferences, it will be easy to make the right choice. From that point, the only thing you should do is to register on the OurPCB website and place an order. The desired boards will arrive at your doorstep in the shortest possible timeframe!