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72 The PCB Magazine • April 2015 identify. It's best to route traces at a 90-degree angle through the flex area and then make the necessary direction changes to accommodate the final design. The only other big change to keep in mind is that angles in flex are not preferred. So the miter tool on your design software should be set to round instead of angular while you layout the flexible circuit design. The natural flexibility affects the transition from horizontal to vertical trace routing so we like to make that transition as seamless as possible. Rounded corners give us that luxury. Conclusions The tactics for flexible circuit design don't differ much from that of traditional PCBs. All of the typical specifications still apply and we add a few more things that require special at- tention. Cover layers require bigger openings than traditional solder mask, trace directions matter in the flex areas and miters should be round instead of angular. You may use all of the same CAD tools for design and output Gerbers as you would for any PCB. The documentation is all the same also with fabrication and assem- bly drawings being the norm. So go ahead and attack your next flexible cir- cuit design with the same confidence you have with PCBs. Of course if questions still arise, you may always count on your supplier for quick and accurate support. PCB John Talbot is president and owner of Tramonto Circuits in Stillwater, Minnesota. To reach Talbot, click here. robotics is replacing manual labor calls for wider adoption of automation in manufactur- ing. From 2015, Guangdong will run a three- year incentive plan to encourage companies in the Pearl river Delta (PrD) to replace manual labor with robotics, targeting 600 companies in total. a company that procures robotics to re- place manual labor will receive a 10–20% rebate from the government. In February, Dongguan municipal govern- ment published the Dongguan 2025 Manufac- turing Strategy that included 43 strategic measures. one of the measures called for acceler- ated robotics adoption. Starting from 2014, Dongguan munici- pal government initiated a plan to encourage robotics adoption by providing an annual rebate of rMB 200 mil- lion (uSD 32.2 million) to support companies. recently, the Hong kong Productivity Council initiated a cooperation project with kuka Shang- hai to adopt automation solutions in Hong kong and the PrD. robotics adoption is designed to provide smart, flexible systems that address ris- ing industry challenges. More importantly, dele- gating repetitive work to robotics eases pressure on workers, who then can focus on high value work like process planning, quality assurance and more. The advantages of robotics are well under- stood. However, business is concerned about the roI of huge upfront costs. Many companies are hesitant because of the cost- effectiveness issue. For display electronics makers, the tipping point to go robotic is approach- ing. It is expected robotics will see exponential development in the display electronics sector. Smart Factory 1.0: the Future of Electronics Manufacturing Flex mAtters DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS: FLExIBLE CIRCUIT VS. TRADITIONAL PCB continues

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