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Flex-Oct2018

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46 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2018 Feature by Tuan Tran GREEN CIRCUITS With the use of sensors and technology in everything from mobile phones to refrigerators, automobiles, and wearable medical devices, circuit boards are a component in many dif- ferent types of products. In today's world of electronics, any product with an on-off switch contains a circuit board. Due to their versatility, the use of flex cir- cuits is one of the fastest growing product mar- ket segments. With the introduction of flex and rigid-flex circuits, engineers have been given the opportunity to be more creative in design- ing new and innovative products. Flex and rigid-flex boards are built to fit into tight, three- dimensional spaces while ensuring resistance to mechanical wear and vibration. Engineers can design products that require boards to fit into tight spaces, twist and turn for packaging, and make the product live in a more dynamic environment. These flexible circuits have the same performance levels as traditional rigid FR-4 boards; however, they have their own nuances and considerations when it comes to design, fabrication, and assembly. Design and Layout When designing a flex circuit, it is important to know the specific application for the circuit. Will it be used in a static or dynamic environ- ment? If the board will reside in a static envi- ronment with little to no movement, the circuit design needs to have the appropriate amount of flexibility so that it can be easily installed within the product. Alternatively, if the board will exist in a dynamic environment where the board will continuously flex back and forth, a level of flexibility that can withstand continu- ous movement needs to be considered in the design. Will the application require a flex or a rigid- flex circuit? If the product requires one-sided surface-mount technology, then a fully flexible board may be the best option. If the product requires two-sided SMT, then a rigid-flex board is needed. At first, there may be some apprehension to laying out a flex circuit board because it is

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