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Rigid-flex combined circuit driving design innovation in 5 ways

April 25, 2022

Advances in technology have always greatly improved the way the industry as a whole is able to address major challenges.


In healthcare, devices that support the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to make waves. IoT components, such as innovative sensors that can track heart rate, temperature, and many other physiological signals, provide accurate, real-time patient measurements, helping doctors and nurses more easily monitor critical health data. With similar developments in data accessibility, hospital managers can quickly respond to changes within their systems, as well as to fluctuations and external pressures such as staff shortages and labor costs.


In aerospace, emerging component manufacturing processes allow manufacturers to imagine and design lightweight, custom components. These innovative approaches are reducing aircraft weight and reducing the burden of traditional factors such as fuel and equipment downtime.


While IoT and manufacturing advances deserve to be rewarded with these performance and cost saving innovations, each innovation requires the key technology components that underlie it. For example, the PCB manufacturing industry, which is undoubtedly an important component of many systems that support the Internet of Things, has been accelerating the adoption of rigid flexible-bonding circuit technology in recent years. With the growing trend of the Internet of Things and manufacturing, engineers across industries are integrating stiff-flex-bonding circuits into their designs to save space, improve durability, and reduce production costs, a sought-after three-in-one advantage. In fact, according to a recent market report, industry forecasters expect a 9.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for Gantao PCB to reach a total of $7.53 billion by 2025.


If we dig a little deeper, it's easy to see why. As industries continue to pursue more complex and advanced technologies and lower total cost of ownership, rigid-flex-bond circuits will be uniquely positioned to provide engineering teams and manufacturers with the best opportunity to build components that meet these extremely high goals. Below is a list of five advantages that rigid-flex-bond circuits offer over traditional PCB products.


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Five cornerstones of circuit design innovation with rigid flex PCB


1. Simple assembly


The significant advantages of rigid-flex-bonding circuits can be seen in comparison with the bulking of traditional wiring harness designs. In the past, engineers might have used a combination of rigid plates and wiring harnesses to integrate desired circuit functions into a system or device. With the rigid-flexible-bonding circuit, engineers can replace the two components with a single component, reducing the need for complex connections between rigid plates and wiring harnesses. From an assembly point of view, rigid-flex-bonding circuits eliminate color coding and cladding wire harnesses. In addition, fewer parts and fewer assembly specifications mean fewer assembly errors, which can increase production efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs, especially in the case of mass production.


2. Significant weight reduction


As manufacturers seek more compact components to reduce weight and increase design flexibility, they are moving away from large, bulky rigid plates and wiring harness packages. Rigid-flexural combined circuit design has become a simple way to solve this problem. In many cases, the flexible part of the rigd-flexible coupling circuit can save up to 75% of the space and weight of a conventional wiring harness, and can replace multiple rigid plates, cables, and connectors. In many industries, such as aerospace or other engine-driven applications, these weight reductions can lead to significant improvements in performance and reliability.


3. Improved package geometry


Rigid-flexible bonding circuits achieve a perfect balance between the rigid plate and the flexible part. Flexible zones allow engineers to create fully customized packages that can fit into Spaces that other circuit designs cannot. They also retain the ability of flexible circuits to provide repeatable wiring and precise control over dense circuits. At the same time, the rigid zone provides hard mounting points on both sides of the circuit to connect to the add-on components in a secure manner, thereby maximizing and optimizing performance and package size.


4. Excellent mechanical and electrical properties


From a mechanical point of view, reducing the weight of the circuit brings more benefits, in particular, greater impact and vibration resistance of the product. Due to the low quality and high ductility of rigid-flexible-bond circuits, repeated effects and shock events, especially at high speeds, do not cause significant damage to the components. In the traditional connection process, the connecting part of the wire will be subjected to greater impact force, which will increase the stress of the wire itself and its related connections.


As for electrical properties, the insulated polyimide layer in the flexible zone protects the circuit, as opposed to the solder resistance film coating found in other PCB structures. The high predictability of the rigid flexural bonding plate on electrical performance improves signal integrity and meets high impedance requirements.


5. Reduce total cost of ownership


The cost effectiveness of using rigid-flexural combined circuit solutions can be found at assembly time.

During the design process, working with an experienced rigid-flexural bonding circuit supplier can help improve assembly efficiency, reduce production time, and reduce the possibility of conventional assembly errors.
The solid material and its vibration resistance characteristics help to maintain optimal performance for longer periods of time throughout the life of the product.

These savings, in addition to the potential fuel cost savings and performance benefits of a lower weight design, make it a breeze to invest in rigid bonding technology.


Select rigid flexion combined circuit partner


It is now time to integrate the powerful rigid-flexural bonding circuit capabilities into the next product design. When working with experienced flexible circuit suppliers early in the design process, they can often help the engineering team come up with new ideas and find better ways to exceed existing performance standards. The greatest performance improvements, reduced space, cost savings, and new features are a direct result of introducing and testing the integration concept early on. To help determine rigid-flexible-bond circuit specifications that are appropriate for application requirements, flexible circuit specialists can draw on decades of proven experience to help engineering teams dig for more efficient designs in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, aerospace, defense/military, and more.

In the coming years, the TCO driven strategy will continue to gain momentum -- performance, efficiency, goals, which are the main considerations identified by the procurement team in the decision-making process. Looking ahead, a design innovation system that achieves these three objectives will be a core part of the winning strategy.