Flexible PCBs (FPC) are the PCBs that can be bent or twisted without damaging the circuits, which means the boards can be bent freely to conform to the desired shape during applications. The material the substrate used is flexible, such as Polyamide, PEEK, or a conductive polyester film.
The differences between FPC with rigid PCBs
The dielectric layers in FPCs are typically homologous sheets of flexible polyimide material. While The dielectric materials in rigid PCBs are usually the composite of epoxy and glass fiber woven cloth.
· Solder mask
There is a layer of solder mask on both sides of a rigid PCB. The solder mask has gaps, and the SMT pads or PTH holes are exposed to allow components to assemble. FPC usually use a cover coat instead of a solder mask. The cover coat is a thin polyimide material that can be drilled or laser-cut to access the components.
· Manufacturing process
Most of the manufacturing steps of FPCs and rigid PCBs are similar. But FPCs need some tools to hold them in a fixed position because of its flexibility.
From the perspective of the price alone, FPCs are more expensive than rigid PCBs. But FPCs have plenty of benefits to improve the cost performance, like space-saving, weight-reducing, and high reliability, etc.
The unique advantages and applications of FPC
FPC has a lot of benefits due to its characteristics; let’s take a close look at the FPCs.
· Excellent flexibility
FPCs are often used as the connectors in various applications. Its excellent flexibility can extend the service life of the circuits and save much space. FPCs are always applied in smartphones and medical equipment where require many interconnections in a compact package.
· Lightweight and small volume
FPCs are lighter than rigid PCBs and can be designed to smaller sizes for its flexibility. These advantages make FPCs available to replace bulky circuits in some applications. For example, FPCs can be used in Satellites, where the weight and volume are the main limitations for designers. What’s more, LED strips, consumer electronics, automobiles, and many other high-density applications favor flexible boards to reduce the size and weight.
· Better resistance and movement performance
FPCs are easy to wrap without breaking and damaging, making them are very suitable for outdoor electronics, sports equipment, and wearable electronics.
· High reliability and excellent heat dissipation
There are no mechanical connectors in FPC applications, which improves the durability in harsh environments. And the heat dissipation ability of FPCs is better than rigid PCBs. Therefore, flexible PCBs can be found in many computer components, televisions, printers, and gaming systems.
Flexible PCBs have so many unique advantages in various applications, while they still cannot replace the rigid PCBs. PCB HERO is an experienced PCB manufacturer that provides turnkey service for PCB assembly prototype and small-batch PCB fabrication. Please contact us if you need more details or other help.