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82 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019 The State of Flex Design What the Flex? by Andy Shaughnessy, I-CONNECT007 I've had a few busy months recently, cover- ing several IPC meetings and forums, as well as PCB West and SMTA International. One thing I've noticed while talking with design- ers and engineers alike is that there's a lot of excitement in the world of flexible circuits and plenty of questions too. Much of the development is being driven by OEMs who find themselves having to embrace flex and rigid-flex circuits, sometimes for the first time, and they need to get up to speed quickly on flex design and fabrication. Flex fabricators at PCB West were handing out flex- ible circuits left and right, and they'll be happy to work with flex "newbies" who need some guidance. Flexible circuits have potential uses that rig- id boards just can't match, allowing OEMs to indulge in flights of creativity not seen with rigid boards. Lately, we've seen more flex cir- cuits stretching up to 20 or 30 feet; U.K.-based Trackwise Designs has manufactured a flexi- ble circuit measuring 85 feet in length for use in an unmanned aerial vehicle. There doesn't seem to be much of a practical limit to the length of flex. The only thing holding the flex market back at all may be the costs of manufacturing and

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