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88 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2019 As the reader has likely already determined, flexible circuits are an excellent technology for making electronic products that are bendable, shapeable, lighter, and smaller than those made using rigid materials. However, flexible circuit materials also tend to be a bit more costly than rigid materials. To save money on the product, it is necessary to conserve material in design. In this regard, the flex circuit designer is argu- ably the most important person in the entire flex circuit manufacturing process in meeting this objective. The decisions made by the flex circuit designer are going to carry over to every other part of the process and can have a significant impact on the ultimate or overall cost of the assembly. To that end, it is essential that the flex cir- cuit designer be attentive to any features that are likely to impact the cost. One should aim to reduce overall material use, which can help keep manufacturing costs down. Good enough, but what can the designer do specifically? One of the first things the flex circuit designer can do is to design circuits that can be closely spaced on the processing panel. While panel- ization is not something the circuit designer is normally tasked with, the choices the designer makes will have a definite effect on how closely the circuits can be spaced relative to one another on the panel. Close spacing and maximum utilization of the material is accom- plished by carefully arranging the circuit on the panel to ensure the greatest use of material. This important technique of optimizing the number of circuits per panel is called nesting. While it is a goal to use the maximum mate- rial, there are other forces in play. Sometimes, Ways to Conserve Flex Circuit Material in the Design Process Flexible Thinking by Joe Fjelstad, VERDANT ELECTRONICS

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