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84 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2019 Making Flexible Circuits Stretchable Flexible circuits have seen increased appli- cation and use since their introduction several decades ago. They are replacing or augment- ing rigid circuit technology in a wide range of product markets from simple consumer items to incredibly complex military and aerospace applications. The limitations of the technolo- gy are truly boundless as it makes an appear- ance in the never-ending parade of new and improved electronic products. While flexible circuits continue their for- ward march, over the past decade, there has been increased interest and use of stretchable circuits for a variety of new applications where circuits have the ability to deform and/or elon- gate elastically and return to their original size. This upstart variation of the venerable flexible circuit has been given the title of "stretchable circuit," and it appears that they are going to be an increasingly important subset of future flexible circuit designs. It is my opinion that the initial driving im- petus for the development of stretchable cir- cuits was a bit different than normal, meaning that military and aerospace have traditional- ly driven the development of arcane electronic interconnection technologies as they did with the development of both flexible and rigid-flex circuits. In contrast, it was a consumer-driv- en market that appears to have been the gate opener in the form of wearable electronics. The roll-out products that drove imaginations were fanciful and eye-catching, led by fashion- ware with LED lighting as an integral element Flexible Thinking by Joe Fjelstad, VERDANT ELECTRONICS

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