FLEX007

Flex-Oct2018

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8 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2018 It is with a heavy heart…no, that's not good. Parting is such sweet sorrow…no, I don't like that either. Let's cut to the chase. In a nutshell, former PCB007 Magazine Managing Editor Patty Goldman is now tak- ing over Flex007 Magazine. I'm grateful that I've had the chance to help get the Flex007 Magazine off the ground. It's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun too. I've learned quite a bit over the past year. I had no idea so many of you are either using flex or considering moving into flex. Quite a few of you now find yourselves having to learn everything you can about "flexitos," as contributing editor Kelly Dack refers to them, solely because rigid boards just won't fit in your form factor anymore, and you've just about run out of options. It's still surprising to me that flex and rigid-flex are now being con- sidered as a high-reliability option. I still can't believe how many everyday household items now contain flex. Not long ago, flex was too expensive to even consider; now it's easier to point out products that don't have any flex inside. IPC standards and EDA tools have largely caught up with the design- ers' skill, though some designers are pushing both of these to their limits with the most cut- ting-edge flex designs. The best part of this whole adventure has been meeting with people in the flex segment, many of whom have shared stories about their successes and failures. I've met PCB design- ers who had never designed a flex circuit before, but now they're immersing themselves in flex design techniques. As usual, the designer seems to get much of the blame, rightly or wrongly, for failing flex cir- cuits. I've also heard some con- structive advice from flex CAM departments. One CAM guy said, to paraphrase, "Designers get the electronics perfect, but then they place a fixture or connector too close to the bending region, etc. Designers need to watch out for the simple mechanical problems when they're designing flex." Speaking of fixtures, there's one thing that almost everyone using flex can agree upon: Flex assembly is a big bottleneck. OEMs say too often that they feel like they're re-invent- ing the wheel during assembly. Part of this is because flex and rigid-flex are (more or less) custom products, so assembly is likely to remain a trouble spot for the near future. Flex is one of the hottest areas in this indus- try, and it's only going to get hotter as 5G, IoT, and artificial intelligence start to take hold. It's going to be a wild ride, but we'll be here to make sense of it all. As I said, I've enjoyed getting Flex007 Maga- zine up and running, but it's time for me to hand it off. I'm leaving you all in the capable hands of Patty Goldman. She'll take good care of you, and I'll still be covering flex from the design side. See you on the road! FLEX007 ReFLEXions by Andy Shaughnessy, I-CONNECT007 Moving Right Along

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