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PCB-Aug2017

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64 The PCB Magazine • August 2017 "What can I do to help drive cost from my de- sign?" This is a question that I am asked rou- tinely. That question is of- ten followed by, "Can I get these faster?" Both questions are even more predominant when talking about flexible circuits or rigid-flex. Flexible cir- cuits are often thought of as a high-priced so- lution and one truly wouldn't design a flexible circuit without needing to uti- lize that technology for some reason. That rea- son may be space, weight, packaging, flexing re- quirements or even aesthetics. I think that most will agree that a quality product that is available when you need it is the primary concern when launching a new design. But, that said, designing the most cost-effective solution to meet your needs is always going to be critical. Today, I want to share my top three tips for reducing cost and shortening lead-time when working with flex. Understand Fabricators' Capabilities In today's fast-paced electronics world, de- signers and engineers rarely have time to vis- it a board shop for a facility tour to better un- derstand the circuit board manufacturing pro- cess. In a perfect world, ever y- one would have a chance to un- derstand not only the basic process steps that these custom-built products go through, but also under - stand the com- plexities that are involved with specialty products such as sequential lamina - tion, microvias, flex and rig- id-flex and even flex and rig- id-flex with sequential lamina- tion and microvias. In today's market, there are many companies that manufacture flex and rigid-flex. There is also a significant difference in capabilities across the market. Some manufacturers specialize in single-sided and double-sided flex, some in multilayer, some in rigid-flex. Within each of these specialties, there are companies that work with leading edge technology and some that do not. All can produce quality prod- uct. But when looking at ways to ensure you are not adding cost to your design, regularly working with your fabricator and understand- ing their capabilities and sweet spot in the market and then matching those capabilities with the requirements of the design can have a significant impact. Knowledge is Power FLEX TALK by Tara Dunn OMNI PCB

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