Types and Applications of Flexible PCBs

Dec. 19, 2022

Flexible PCBs are bendable printed circuits made from flexible films that have been used in a wide variety of industries. Below, we'll examine some of the most common types of flexible printed circuit boards in use today and their applications.

Flexible PCB

Flexible PCB

Types of Flexible Circuits

1. Single-sided flexible circuits

A single-sided flexible circuit is the most basic circuit and consists of a single metal trace on one side of the dielectric layer. The dielectric can be polyimide or polymer. A polyimide overlay is added for insulation and to prevent environmental degradation. Most calculators use these printed circuits because of their simplicity and lightweight.

2. Double-sided Flexible Circuits

Double-sided flex circuits have multiple layers on both sides of a single dielectric layer. By printing and plating through-hole connections on both sides of the dielectric film, double-sided flexible PCBs offer enhanced power handling and circuit density.

<2>3. Multilayer Flexible Circuits

Multilayer flex circuits have several copper layers separated by dielectric layers. The metalized layers are again connected via holes. There are also more complex interconnections, and layers designed for surface mounting. Due to the complexity of the structure, multilayer flexible PCBs are more expensive than their counterparts.

4. Rigid Flexible Circuits

In a rigid-flex circuit, the circuit consists of multiple circuit layers that are connected by an epoxy resin prepreg bonding film. A flexible circuit is almost a combination of a rigid circuit board and a flexible circuit. Rigid flexible circuits have a higher component density.

Applications for Flexible PCBs

Flexible printed circuit boards have been widely used in these industries.

1. Automotive

Flexible PCBs are used in automotive systems/components including anti-lock braking systems, airbag controllers, instrument panel systems, instrument panels, and more. Flexible PCBs fit small parts and provide flexibility for engineers. Automotive components need to be heat and cold-resistant and withstand vibration during use. Flexible PCBs are not a concern in this case.

2. Computers

Computer operation relies on flexible PCBs because the computer space is small and flexible PCBs transmit signals. Desktop computers generally use 4-layer and 6-layer FPC boards and laptops with less space require 8-layer FPC boards.

3. Smartphone

Smartphones are small, lightweight, portable, and multifunctional. Inside small smartphones, there are a large number of flexible PCBs used to carry and connect various components. flex PCBs fit into small spaces and keep our smartphones safe, and they are heat and environment-resistant.

4. Aerospace

Flexible PCBs are particularly suitable for aerospace applications such as satellites due to their excellent ability to handle extreme temperatures and vibration stress. In satellites, flexible PCBs are used to replace connectors that can cause interconnection errors, they can be folded and bent thousands of times, carry components, and connect directly to different parts.

5. Medical devices

Flexible printed circuit boards provide greater durability for wearable devices. Flexible PCBs are widely used in medical devices such as swallowable pill cameras, gastroscopes, and glass hearing aids. Flexible PCBs are small, thin, foldable, and durable, making them a necessity for medical devices with tight spaces and high requirements.

In addition, flexible circuits can be used to build robotic arms, processing machines, barcode devices, and more. They are even used in satellites and GPS systems.

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