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JUNE 2018 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 37 plated, photo-imaged, developed and etched just like the traditional PCB process. The next step, also similar for both PCBs and flex circuits, involves the panels being baked to remove any moisture from the wet processes. It is after this step where the traditional PCB and flex circuit processes begin to differ. Instead of going to the solder mask station, as would happen with traditional PCBs, flex circuits go to the coverlay station. 1. PCB layout design support: Review and provide flex layout design guidelines to the designer. 2. Manufacturing tooling design: Review and design the proper assembly carries. 3. Manufacturing process: Review and create the proper assembly processes for SMT/ hand solder and repair or other processes. Las Marias: What can you say to our readers about choosing EMS partners for their flex circuit assemblies? Chan: Choose the right manufacturing part- ners with a proven track record. From small consumer handheld products to sophisticated medical or avionics systems, flex circuits are integral to almost every product that we use today. The demand for more compact, high- performance products and a competitive market has brought flex circuit technology into sharp focus. Product quality, viability, perfor- mance and cost all depend on your flex circuit design. While fulfilling our customer needs is criti- cal, success and profitability also depend on how the manufacturing partner can support the product design and development process. With applications and materials continually being designed and developed, the latest tech- nology promises to revolutionize many aspects of electronic circuit design. It's important to consider the following key areas when choosing an EMS provider: • Make sure your EMS provider has experience in flex circuit assembly • Ensure your EMS provider is involved in your flex layout design and support • Know whether your EMS provider can give flex design layout guidelines Las Marias: How do you see the flex circuit assembly market in the next 12 to 18 months? Chan: I see the flex circuit market continu- ing to grow. The growth is largely fueled by the Internet of Things movement. With every- thing becoming interconnected in cars, homes, and mobile devices, the requirement for flex circuits will grow. Las Marias: Do you have any final comments? Chan: Although it seems that an assembly is an assembly is an assembly, that is not always the case. Working with flex circuits brings unique challenges and unless you have been working with them repeatedly, an assembler will not know what pitfalls to avoid. When you couple the component knowledge, flex and rigid-flex circuits with the manufacturing acumen, you have a winning combination. Las Marias: Thank you very much, Harry. Chan: Thank you. SMT007

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