Flex-printed circuit boards’ design and production process involve considering many elements. These elements include substrate material, solder mask, silkscreen, the board’s thickness, and so on. However, out of all these elements, most people overlook the board’s thickness or don’t give it as much attention as it needs.
Knowing the perfect thickness for your flexible PCB is essential since it can help you make it more reliable and efficient. Moreover, doing so could help you save on cost and time by cutting down on unnecessary materials that make your board bulky for no reason. However, when selecting the right thickness for your board, you should keep a few things in mind. These include the amount of electronic components in your board, measurement tools, and understanding the thickness that best suits your board. Moreover, you should also ask yourself, what products will you use? And how much do I gain from this thickness?
Flexible Printed Circuit Boards in a Nutshell
Flexible PCBs are incredible inventions that help technicians better tackle the generation of flexible electronic components by solving issues arising from using rigid boards. Moreover, flexible printed circuit boards are, as their name dictates, flexible. Therefore you can bend these circuit boards into multiple shapes. You can also form these PCBs into layers, making these circuit boards perfect for various applications.
Determining the thickness of a flexible circuit board involves understanding its circuitry and desired size according to the design. In most cases, manufacturers and PCB designers use a flexible PCB thickness of around 1.6mm, the thickness they mostly prefer for single-sided printed circuit boards.
Compared with standard circuit boards of 1.8mm thickness, flexible circuit boards are relatively shorter. However, even though these circuit boards are thinner, when it comes to cost, they tend to be more expensive than standard printed circuit boards since they encompass thicker materials, making them longer and more complicated to produce.
Understanding the Bendability of your Flexible Printed Circuit Board
The flexible circuit board you select will determine the type of material to use and how much. To determine the necessary flexibility for your flex circuit board, you should consider how much movement comes with the application area of the board. Doing so will help you determine the necessary bendability restrictions for your circuit board.
However, allowing your circuit board to bend excessively might lead to the circuit board denting or bending under pressure, which might cause issues over time. But, this issue is exceptionally experienced in applications that involve environments with multiple fluctuations.
Selecting the Perfect Thickness for your Flexible Printed Circuit Board Prototype
The thickness you go with for your flex PCB will eventually determine the final thickness for your flexible printed circuit board. Moreover, the prototype thickness will also significantly affect your gadget’s design considerations.
However, when carrying out experiments, remember the push the limits of flexibility to identify the right thickness for your circuit board. However, it would help if you also kept in mind that flexibility comes at a cost. Therefore, you should try working with a PCB thickness calculator instead of constructing multiple prototypes with varying thickness levels to identify the perfect thickness for your circuit board. However, when using these calculators, you should consider the following factors:
When constructing your PCB, the material you utilize will significantly affect your board’s thickness. Thinner materials might be less expensive. However, they are also lighter, which might lead to later complications during the assembly process.
On the other hand, thicker materials are heavier, making printed circuit boards stiffer. Therefore, when building a flexible PCB, you will face some issues when using thicker components. Moreover, thicker components might affect the electrical characteristics of your circuit board, especially when the PCB gets hotter.
Heat sinks are crucial components that help in the dissipation of heat in electronic PCBs. They can be made from many components. However, you should go for the heat sink component with impeccable heat transfer coefficients to make an efficient PCB. Moreover, this heat sink component should have a low thermal resistance to ensure impeccable heat transfer. Using this method, technicians can efficiently develop a circuit board that transfers excess heat off the circuitry location.
When dealing with flexible PCBs, you should remember that thicker circuit boards dissipate heat more efficiently than thinner circuit boards. Therefore a thicker printed circuit board can handle high temperatures with ease compared to slim circuit boards.
The final price of your flexible printed circuit board will be affected significantly by the type of material that you utilize to make the circuit board. Moreover, the more circuit board layers you place on your flex circuit board, the thicker the PCB will become. And since circuit board layers account for the board’s price, thicker flexible PCBs tend to cost more.
Thick-printed circuit boards need more power for them to function efficiently. Moreover, they might require to gain power from multiple sources. For instance, having a circuit board with around six different conductors might force you to include two or even more traces to the circuit board.
Selecting thinner components to make your PCB might account for a more flexible circuit board that can withstand pounding and bending during use. However, sometimes you have to utilize multiple layers which increases the board’s weight and ultimately the cost of the PCB.
Benefits of Flexible Printed Circuit Boards
The main benefit of flex PCBs is that you can bend them and then utilize them in applications where you can’t use rigid printed circuit boards. Technicians primarily utilize these PCB in applications that require flexible or moveable PCB. Moreover, you can also utilize these PCBs in applications that require curved circuit boards.
Due to the flexibility of flex PCBs, you can utilize them in multiple applications. On the other hand, rigid printed circuit boards have limited uses; therefore, they have fewer applications compared to flex PCBs.
Other benefits of flex PCBs include:
- Reduces weight and space
- Increased usability
- Higher density PCBs
Most manufacturers overlook the benefits of utilizing flex PCBs to construct electronics. The structural characteristics of these PCBs make them great for generating space-efficient, powerful gadgets. However, when developing these PCB, you should significantly consider the thickness of the board. Selecting the perfect thickness for your circuit board gives you a more reliable and efficient PCB. Moreover, you also get to save money by cutting down on unnecessary components. Therefore, we hope that this article has provided you with all the answers that you were looking for regarding flex PCB thickness levels.