FLEX007

Flex-Apr2018

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8 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2018 Welcome to the first issue of Flex007 Maga- zine. This new quarterly magazine is dedicated to flex system designers, electrical engineers, flex PCB designers, and anyone responsible for integrating flex into their products at the OEM/ CEM level. Some of you are longtime readers of our Flex007 Weekly Newsletter. After seven years, we realized that it was time to expand from a newsletter to a magazine. Flexible printed cir- cuits (FPC) have become all but ubiquitous, and it's time that flex has its own magazine. Flex and rigid-flex circuits are now found in many everyday handheld devices, such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones, not to men- tion automotive electronics, medical, military, and aerospace applications. In a future that includes autonomous and electric vehicles, vir- tual and altered reality devices, you can expect flex to continue to grow. We now see all manner of flex circuits: Sin- gle-sided, double-sided, multilayered, double- access, sculpted, and, of course, rigid-flex. Flex has gone through quite a few false starts over the years. As recently as the '90s, flex was just one more expensive type of boutique circuit. FPC was hip and cool, but engineers had to have a real need before they specified a flex circuit. Then the cost of flex materials began dropping, and flex standards started to more or less catch up with the industry. Fast-forward to today. Many EDA tools now feature flex design capabilities, and many fab- ricators have mastered the process of mak- ing these "flexitos," as some designers refer to them. Flex is not just a boutique process anymore. (It's still a custom process in many ways, but that's another story.) More rigid board designers and fabricators are considering moving into flexible circuits, because flex is still a premium product com- pared to rigid PCBs. (For some of the more suc- cessful "double-dipper" fabricators, flex makes up only 25% of their workload but 60% of their revenue.) No wonder flex is an attractive market for US companies. Flex and rigid-flex offer numerous opportunities, but they come with a variety of challenges as well. For this first issue of Flex007 Magazine, we asked some of the top flex experts to share ReFLEXions by Andy Shaughnessy, I-CONNECT007 Got Flex?

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