Multiple conductive copper layers separated by stiff or flexible insulation material make up a flexible circuit. It has plated through-holes that pass through layers that are both hard and flexible. A protective layer made of coverlay or cover film is placed over the flexible areas of the flex circuit.
Flexible printed circuit boards are made with coverlay or cover film as an added layer of security. The flexible circuit board’s external circuitry is enclosed in this protective covering. In essence, coverlay performs comparable duties as a solder mask used on conventional rigid PCBs.
Flex circuits & rigid-flex circuits are available in a variety of configurations, offering a wide range of possible uses. Among these configurations are:
- Single-layer flex circuit: The IPC 6013 – Type 1 standard is followed by these circuits, which include a single layer of conductive copper sandwiched between 2 layers of polyimide insulation. They work well for several applications and are perfect for dynamic flex or bend-to-fit situations.
- Double-sided flex circuit: These circuits are built using two conductive copper layers, two layers of polyimide insulation, and external polyimide insulation layers in line with the IPC 6013 – Type 2 standard. Plated holes are used to connect the layers. Depending on how they are built, they can be utilized for dynamic flex and bend-to-fit applications.
- Multilayer flex circuit: These circuits are built by the IPC 6013 – Type 3 standard and consist of three or more flexible conducting layers with flexible insulation material sandwiched in between. Polyimide layers offer outside insulation. Plated holes are used to connect the layers. These circuits, which utilize high-speed regulated impedance in either a surface stripline or microstrip arrangement, are specially made for bend-to-fit applications. They are well suited for applications that need precise control over the movement of electrical signals using this configuration.
- Rigid-flex circuit: These circuits adhere to the IPC 6013 – Type 4 standard and are made up of two or more layers of conductive copper, separated by rigid or flexible insulation material. They have plated holes that pass through layers that are both flexible and rigid. Selectively placed coverlay or cover film serves as a protective layer just in the flex areas of the flex layers. These circuits are best suited for dynamic flex or bend-to-fit applications with only one or two flex layers and high-speed regulated impedance in either a surface stripline or microstrip form.
Multilayer Flex PCB
Multilayer flex circuits are sophisticated circuit architectures that have improved performance, reduced size & weight, and higher reliability and durability. They can be applied to a wide range of systems, including consumer electronics, medical equipment, aerospace and defense, and automobiles. These circuits, which are crucial in the contemporary electronic industry, offer complicated electronic systems a flexible and affordable solution.
A multilayer flex circuit can be laminated using a continuous process or a discontinuous process. This is crucial to take into account because a continuous lamination process might not be the best option for designs that need the most flexibility possible.
Numerous design problems in electronics are solved by multilayer flex circuits. They are very helpful in meeting demands like required impedance, lowering crosstalk, raising component density, fixing shielding flaws, and handling inevitable crossovers.
Top Advantages of Multilayer Flex PCB in Electronics
- Compact circuit design
- No need for mechanical connections
- Exceptional design versatility
- Lightweight and compact form factor
- Extended operating temperature range
- Fewer wiring mistakes
- Improved signal strength
- Precise impedance control and dependability
The Other Advantages of Multilayer Flex PCB are:
- Reduced assembly errors: Instead of depending on manually constructed wiring harnesses, multilayer flex circuits use accurate design and automated production methods to reduce the possibility of human error. The risk of incorrect wiring is further decreased because these circuits only link to the required points indicated in the design.
- Reduced assembly cost & time: Less manual labor is required during assembly when multilayer flex circuits are used, which reduces production errors. In addition to lowering the cost of wire wrapping, soldering, and routing, these circuits have the advantage of merging form, function, and fit.
- Design freedom: The capacity to work in three dimensions, as opposed to rigid PCBs two, allows for greater design freedom. This adaptability allows for use in challenging conditions and creates practically endless application possibilities.
- Flexibility during installation: The word “flexibility” speaks for itself since it gives designs and applications a third dimension, making them more three-dimensional. Flex circuits are even more advantageous since they can be modified during installation without losing their electronic functionality.
- High-density applications: With the use of multilayer flex circuits, components may be packed closely together, creating room for more functions and features.
- Improved airflow: Better airflow made possible by their simplified designs results in lower operating temperatures and longer product life.
- Better heat dissipation: Thanks to their streamlined design and elevated surface-to-volume ratio, multilayer flex circuits offer enhanced heat dissipation capabilities.
- Improved system reliability: The use of multilayer flex circuits results in a lower number of interconnections, leading to decreased failures and increased reliability.
- Durable and reliable: Multilayer flex circuits are renowned for their durability and toughness; they can flex 500 million times without breaking. Additionally, they can function in extremely hot settings.
- Less complex circuit geometry: Surface-mount components are directly positioned on the circuit in multilayer flex circuit technology, creating a more effective and streamlined design.
- Reduced weight and package size: In many systems, rigid boards are employed, although they can be hefty and take up a lot of room. Contrarily, multilayer flex circuits do not require heavy rigid PCBs due to their compact and lightweight design, which is made possible by thin dielectric substrates. Their elastic and flexible character also leads to smaller packaging sizes.
Multilayer flex circuits are well positioned to meet demand as the drive toward downsizing shows no signs of slowing down. They are an excellent option both now and in the future because of their lightweight construction, increased reliability, and capacity to function in tough environments.
It is essential to have a dependable PCB design and analysis program that can handle this technology to efficiently construct flexible or semi-rigid flexible circuits. The answer is Cadence’s OrCAD PCB Designer, which has the tools and skills needed for building flexible circuits, including real-time 3D design and analysis. You will get access to tools of the highest caliber from OrCAD to properly design your flexible and rigid-flexible circuits.