Advantages of flexible circuit boards and rigid-flex boards in medical equipment

Flexible circuit boards have evolved over time. They are now used in a variety of applications in the medical industry, including drug delivery systems and watches, where they can keep an eye on circulatory and respiratory data and send it to the wearer's cardiologist. Flexible circuit boards offer mechanical advantages over rigid PCBs in a variety of medical applications.

1. Flexible circuit boards enable engineers to mount their various electronic components in a compact small package. As a result, the entire final product (medical device) can be placed on the human body (eg, hearing aids).
2. Flexible circuit boards can form complex three-dimensional shapes with branches that branch to multiple connectors, which cannot be achieved with rigid PCBs. 
3. Flexible circuit boards can interface with rigid PCB boards, while flat cables do not require relatively tall and bulky connectors, or in the case of rigid-flex structures. They can be integrated with circuit boards and require no external connectors at all.
4. All these unique features of flexible circuit boards and flex-rigid boards make them ideal for wearable devices and medical applications.

The flex circuit boards used in the aforementioned applications are getting smaller and smaller, which can present some significant challenges in the PCB process.This forces manufacturers to opt for thinner wires and spaces, thinner copper, thinner substrates, all of which are actually application dependent.