Flexible Circuits: An Engineer’s Dream
Combining the processing capabilities of rigid-PCBs with the ability to conform to unique geometries, SSI Electronics’ flexible printed circuits (FPCs) provide a unique medium for electrical circuits. These versatile circuits are produced by etching copper-cladded polyimide film, which provides a platform for a wide variety of secondary processing.
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4 Key Advantages of Flex Circuits
1) Reduced size & weight
Compared to standard printed circuit boards (≈0.063” thick), flex circuits provide a dramatic decrease in package size and weight. Flex circuits, typically just 0.004”-0.010” thick, are even thinner and lighter than traditional cable options.
2) Solution to interconnect challenges
Interconnect problems can often be solved by flex circuits, which integrate the interconnects into the part. Thus, flexible circuits eliminate the need for expensive cables and connectors.
3) Reduction in assembly costs
With the interconnections built into the flex circuit, fewer connectors are required, and thus less soldering. The ability to pre-form the flex circuit assembly, along with its inherent flexibility, allows quicker installation, particularly in hard-to-reach areas.
4) High performance & flexibility
Certain applications simply require circuits that can flex. Compared to other flexible options, flex circuits provide superior electrical and mechanical performance.
What Do You Mean “Flexible Printed Circuits Aren’t Printed”?
It’s no wonder that circuit terminology can be so confusing. After all, the most common circuits in the world, printed circuit boards (PCBs), are not, in fact, printed…they’re etched! The same goes for flexible printed circuits (FPCs). To help clear things up, below you will find short descriptions of the most common types of circuits:
Flex Circuit, Flexible Circuit, or FPC: Copper-cladded film (usually polyimide) that is chemically etched to produce a specific circuit pattern.
Printed Circuit or Membrane Switch Circuit: Conductive polymer Ink, usually silver, screen printed on thin film, typically polyester, to create a specific circuit pattern.
Flat Flexible Cable, or FFC: Thin copper conductors that are laminated between two layers of polyester insulators to create a cable.
Printed Circuit Board, or PCB: Copper-cladded, fiberglass-reinforced (rigid) laminate that is chemically etched to produce a specific circuit pattern.