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Flex PCB

Flex PCBs Defined

A Flex PCB or FPCB is a patterned arrangement of printed circuitry and components that utilizes flexible based material with or without flexible coverlay. These flexible electronic assemblies may be fabricated using the same components used for rigid printed circuit boards, but allowing the board to conform to a desired shape (flex) during its application.

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Flexible PCB / FPCB Applications

FPCBs are used widely in everyday technology and electronics in addition to high-end, complex completed components. A few of the most prominent examples of flexible circuits usage is in modern portable electronics, devices, hard disk drives and desktop printers.

Flexible circuits are also used extensively in other applications and industries including:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Communications
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Industrial

In transportation they are extensively used due to their improved resistance to vibrations and movement.

Flex PCB cover
Flex Cover
Photo Credit: Robert Tarzwell

Our Capabilities

We can turn your flexible PCB manufacturing order in as quick as 24 hours.

Call us at 800.SFC.5143 or get an instant PCB quote.

We are ready and eager to turn your concepts into reality.

Specifications Capabilities
Drill to copper – Outer layers 8 mil
Drill to copper – Inner layers 10 mil
Copper Thickness 0.5 oz - 4 oz
Minimum Hole Size 0.004"
Minimum Trace/Space 0.003"/0.003"
Minimum Pitch 0.5 mm
Copper to board edge 0.007"
Coverlay Opening 0.003"
Coverlay Web (Kapton) 0.006"

Heavy Copper Flex Circuit Boards

San Francisco Circuits can provide heavy copper flex circuit boards that can also be coupled with flexible thin copper layers designed to handle heavier power currents. Your heavy copper boards can be built with flex portions for lower voltage additions and applications.

Heavy Copper Flex PCB
Heavy Copper Flex PCB
Photo Credit: Robert Tarzwell

Double-Sided & Multi-Layer Flex PCBs

Whether you're looking for a double sided flex circuit or complex multi layer flexible PCBs from your flex PCB manufacturer, we can provide you with the guidance, expertise and capabilities to bring your concept to reality. Multi-layer flex boards are being used more often in electronic applications for higher speed performance but at a loss of flexibility. Single-sided or double-sided multi layer flex PCBs can be designed in unique and complex layouts, with a much greater possibility of combinations compared to FR4 board design. Just as multi-layer FR4 boards, the multi layer FPCBs can be designed using blind and buried vias as well as plated through holes (PTH).

Our strong network of manufacturers can push the limits on PCB fabrication technology, with very fine traces, RF PCBHDI PCB technology and more!

Some Benefits of Flexible PCBs

The primary benefits of flexible circuits compared to traditional cabling and rigid boards include the following benefits listed below. 

Flex boards benefits include:

  • Reduced wiring errors
  • Elimination of mechanical connectors
  • Unparalleled design flexibility
  • Higher circuit density
  • More robust operating temperature range
  • Stronger signal quality
  • Improved reliability and impedance control
  • Size and weight reduction

Flex PCB disadvantages also exist:

  • Higher material cost than rigid or rigid flex PCB
  • Low temperature ability in flex circuits
  • More difficult & complex assembly
  • Easily damaged through improper handling (easy to bend and dent)
  • Sensitive to scratching
  • Difficult or impossible to repair once damaged
  • Requires proper storage conditions (sulfur free plastic)

To ensure the highest quality of your flexible circuit board, we also offer thermal cycling and shock testing to ensure proper usage in the desired environment. PCB burn in testing is available for all SFC-provided boards. We can also provide PCB assembly for all circuit board types.

Flex Circuit Flexible Circuit Flexible PCB
Flexible Circuit Boards
Photo Credits: Robert Tarzwell

The Advantages of Flexible Printed Circuit Boards

Electronic devices have taken upon a prominent part of our everyday lives. The extensive range of devices from cell-phones to servers, regardless of their sizes and uses are now being designed to be flexible, lightweight and efficient. While they all come in diverse shapes, sizes and functionalities, there is one thing in common - they include flexible printed circuits boards.

Benefits of using Flex PCBs

  • Flexibility - the most prominent benefit.
    • The elastic nature of the flex PCB allows placement around edges and folds.
    • The flexible nature of the flex circuit boards are used in electronic devices that require 3 axes connections.
    • Very little or no wiring is required that eliminates wire connection failure and increases the reliability of the device.
  • Space and Weight Savings
    • Flex PCBs save up to 60% of the weight and space compared to Rigid PCB or wire harness applications.
  • Bending Cycles
    • Flex PCB use in 3D designs eliminates connectors, while the number of bending cycles can be as many as 200,000 (with standard material)
  • Anti-Vibration Benefits
    • Added flexibility and lighter weights allow the flex circuits to absorb and reduce the impact of the vibration to itself as well as any solder joints in connections.
  • Use in Harsh Environment
    • Flex circuits can be built with materials that are suitable to use in harsh operating environments (materials that have the following properties: waterproof, moisture proof, shock proof, high temperature oil, corrosion resistant).
  • Consistent Thin Inner Layers
  • Heavy Copper Layers
    • Heavy copper layers can be used for high-power uses with thin copper layers for flexibility

The Main Benefits of a Flex Circuit

  • IPC 6013 Type 1 - Single-Sided Flex PCB
    • Flexible
    • Numerous bending cycles
    • Cost effective
  • IPC 6013 Type 2 - Double-Sided Flex PCB
    • More flexible in design
    • Space saving
    • Double-sided soldering
  • IPC 6013 Type 3 - Multilayer Flex PCB
    • Enables more compact package
    • More flexible in 3D designs with PTH, blind and buried vias.
  • IPC 6013 Type 4 - Rigid-Flex PCB
    • Provides reliable 3D circuitry application with stable platform for stiffeners, components, heat streaks, flex pcb pins and etc.
    • Increased reliability, better signal integrity, noise reduction , impedance control.
    • Reduces mechanical space and device weight.
    • Improved design freedom
    • HDI micro-via
    • Cost-saving alternative to multilayer flex printed circuits

Main Advantages of Flex PCBs

There are a number of advantages using flex PCBs. Flexible circuit boards are specifically designed to save room and improve flexibility in meeting smaller and high-density mount designs. They also reduce the items in the overall assembly process and enhance reliability of the PCB.

The other advantages of flex PCBs are:

  • Increased heat dissipation capabilities
  • Improvement of airflow inside "box"
  • Required package sizes are reduced
  • Package weights are reduced
  • Assembly time reduced
  • Reduced assembly costs
  • 25 point to point wire used
  • Circuits are flexible
  • Assembly errors are reduced
  • System reliability is increased
  • Fewer inductance cabling required
  • Improved product appearance

Flex PCB fabrication with San Francisco Circuits

Because of a strong network with the best flex PCB manufacturers, San Francisco Circuits can provide our customers with flex printed circuit boards with a great variety of technologies, from simple single-sided flex boards to complex multilayer flex, from commercial applications to high reliability military PCB. We can turn your flex PCBs as fast as in 24 hours, depending on technologies. If you’re looking for production quantities of flex or a flex pcb prototype, SFC’s experts are there to assist with every step of the process at the best value.

Call us at 800.SFC.5143 or get an instant PCB quote. Tell our experts what you need and we will provide you with the right PCB production and assembly solution. We are ready and eager to turn your concepts into reality.

Call us: 1-800-SFC-5143

San Francisco Circuits, Inc.

1660 S Amphlett Blvd #200
San Mateo,CA 94402
Toll-Free: (800)732-5143

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San Francisco Circuits - San Diego

3914 Murphy Canyon Rd., Suite A244
San Diego, CA 92123
Local: (858)576-7202

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