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62 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2018 Approaching 20 years ago, the PCB industry endured a major shift from domestic sourcing to offshore fabrication. Yet since then, the flex- ible circuit sourcing map has remained fairly constant. Why is that? The primary reason is that flexible circuits are more than just PCBs. Yes, a flexible circuit performs the function of an interconnect and active substrate for control logic and signal dis- tribution like a PCB does. But a flex performs a significant mechanical function on top of its PCB function. Even to be economically feasi- ble, a flexible circuit needs to bring more to the game than a rigid PCB. It needs to eliminate connectors, fit into small spaces, weigh less, withstand high temperatures, perform in harsh environmental conditions, handle flexing/ movement, dissipate heat, survive in unusual chemistries or gasses, and provide increased reliability by eliminating connection points. Without one or more of these additional func- tional requirements, a flex is more expensive. But what does this have to do with the flex industry remaining entrenched in the USA? The answer is that in order for flexible circuits to perform these other mechanical duties, they All About Flex by Jahn Stopperan, ALL FLEX Flex Circuits: More Than Just a PCB

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