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What Are Flexible Electronic Circuits?!

posted Aug 3, 2017, 10:16 AM by Rohit Bhaskar   [ updated Jul 10, 2018, 11:24 AM by Chirag Trasikar ]

So, today’s topic is going to be flexible electronic circuits, also known as flex circuits or FPC (flexible printed circuits). And its not a tech from the future or whatever, it pretty much exists, and you’re holding a bit of it in your hand right now. Yeah, that’s right, there are flexible circuits in your phone itself. Flexible circuits are used almost everywhere from your keyboards and cameras all the way to rockets and spaceships.

It is defined as a technology for assembling electronic circuits by mounting electronic devices on flexible plastic substrates.

So how are these circuits made??

In practice there are many different kinds of flexible circuits, including one metal layer, double sided, multilayer and rigid flex circuits. The circuits can be formed by etching metal foil cladding (normally of copper) from polymer bases, plating metal or printing of conductive inks among other processes.

So to put it simply it consists of mainly 3 parts. The first is the base material which is a flexible polymer film, the second is an adhesive layer which joins the polymer when heated and the third is a layer of thin metal foil which is the conductor.

So what’s the history behind it?

The first thoughts of using flexible circuits actually came in 1903 by visionaries like Dr Ken Gilleo and Albert Hansen. Some ideas on similar lines were also found in Thomas Edision’s lab journals. It was around 1947 that flexible circuits actually came into use.

So what are the types of FPCs

  1. Single-sided flex circuits
  2. Double access or back bared flex circuits
  3. Sculptured flex circuits
  4. Double-sided flex circuits
  5. Multi-layer flex circuits
  6. Rigid flex circuits

Advantage of FPCs

  • Potential to replace multiple rigid boards
  • Useful for dynamic or high-flex applications
  • Stacked FPCs are possible

Disadvantages of FPCs

  • Cost increase over rigid PCBs
  • Increased risk of damage during handling or use
  • More difficult assembly process
  • Repair and rework is difficult or impossible

That’s all for this post guys. Hope you understood 🙂