Flex Circuit Design

Flex Circuit DesignStandard PCBs can be very small, but in some applications flexibility is required. Our flexible printed circuits, usually simply called flex circuits, can provide you with many options that standard PCB designs simply cannot match.

Flex circuits were originally designed to replace basic wiring harnesses, but our flex circuit designs are routinely used in consumer electronics such as cell phones, digital cameras, print heads and disk drives. Whenever you have a need for a large number of electrical connections in a small package, flexible printed circuits are the answer.

We can design flex circuits using conductive polyester or polyamide films, or you can specify silver or copper traces printed onto nonconductive films. Our design packages are as flexible as the flex circuits themselves. Flex circuit designs allow higher circuit density than rigid PCBs, offer dramatic reductions in size and weight, and give engineers tremendous design flexibility. Flex circuit designs can be flexible during use, or they can be flexed into any desired shape for installation into a device. They often offer better impedance control than conventional printed circuit boards.

Single-sided flex circuits are the most common design. They are composed of a single conductive layer on a flexible dielectric. Although they are usually coated with a protective layer, they can be used without any coating. Board components are placed on only one side of single-sided flex circuits.

Back-bared flex circuits also have only a single conductive layer, but the conductor is accessible from both sides of the dielectric film. This type of flex circuit is more difficult to produce, but we do offer this design option.

Double-sided flex circuits have two conductive layers. We usually design these circuits with plated through-holes, but this is a design specification that you can change. We can design flex circuits to mil spec Type V standards if desired. Protective coating can be applied onto one or both sides of this flex circuit.

Multilayer flex circuits have three or more conductive layers. The layers can be continuously laminated or feature discontinuous lamination for maximum flexibility. In discontinuous lamination, the areas of the flex circuit that are designed to bend are not bonded.

Rigid-flex circuits are multilayer structures that combine both rigid and flexible substrates. They are commonly specified in military applications.

Although the design is uncommon, we also offer sculptured flex circuit designs. These flex circuits feature conductive layers of varying thickness throughout different areas of the circuit. The traces are thin in areas where the circuit is designed to be flexible but thicker in areas where connections are to be made.

For low-power applications with higher voltages where high conductivity is not required, we also offer polymer thick film flex circuit designs. These are usually single-sided flex circuits with traces printed onto a polymer dielectric film.