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88 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2020 that meet these lofty objectives. Here's a list of five key benefits rigid-flex offers when com- pared to traditional PCB offerings. Five Building Blocks for Design Innovation With Rigid-Flex 1. Simple Assembly This advantage is clear just by looking at a rigid-flex rig compared to the bulky wire har- ness designs of old. Traditionally, an engineer might have used a combination of hard board and wire harnesses to integrate the desired cir- cuit capabilities into a system or device. With rigid-flex, engineers can replace these two components with one—reducing the need for complicated connections between hard board and wire harnesses. From an assembly per- spective, rigid-flex circuits eliminate color cod- ing and bundles of wrapped wire. Additionally, fewer parts and reduced assembly specifica- tions mean fewer opportunities for assembly error, which can improve production efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs—especially with volume production. 2. Significant Mass Reduction As manufacturers seek more compact com- ponents that reduce weight and enhance design flexibility, they are moving away from large, bulky hard board and wire harness packages. Rigid-flex designs have become a simple fix for this problem. In many cases, the flex portion of a rigid-flex circuit can save up to 75% of the space and weight of conven- tional wire harnesses—and replace multiple hard boards, cables, and connectors. In many industries, such as aerospace or other engine- powered applications, these weight reductions can deliver measurable improvements in per- formance and reliability. 3. Improved Packaging Geometry Rigid-flex circuits strike the perfect balance between hard board and flex componentry. Flex areas allow engineers to create a fully custom- ized package, capable of fitting in spaces where no other circuit designs can. They also retain a flex circuit's ability to deliver repeatable rout- ing and precise control over dense circuitry. Meanwhile, rigid areas provide hard-mount points on both sides of the circuit to connect to additional components in secure ways that maximize performance and package size. 4. Superior Mechanical and Electrical Performance From a mechanical perspective, reduced cir- cuit weight delivers added benefits in the form of greater shock and vibration resistance. Due to the low mass and superior ductility of rigid- flex, repeated impact and shock events—espe- cially at high speeds—do not carry significant potential for component damage. By contrast, conventionally wired components deliver greater vibrational mass, which can increase stress on both the wires themselves and their related connections during impacts. As for electrical performance, dielectric polyimide layers in the flex regions protect cir- cuits beyond solder mask coverings found in other PCB configurations. Rigid-flex's highly predictable electrical characteristics improve signal integrity and meet high standards for impedance. 5. Lower Total Cost of Ownership The cost benefits of using a rigid-flex solution can be found as early as assembly. Partnering with an experienced rigid-flex provider during the design process can help unlock assembly efficiencies that reduce production time and limit the potential for routine assembly errors. Over the life of the device, robust materials and their vibration resistant characteristics can help keep systems running at optimal perfor- mance for longer. These savings, in addition to potential fuel cost savings and performance advantages created by a low weight design, can combine to make investing in rigid-flex technology a no-brainer. Selecting a Rigid-Flex Partner Integrating powerful rigid-flex capabilities into your next design starts now. When you collaborate with an experienced flex circuit

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