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42 PCB007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2021 Feature Article by Chris Clark FLEXIBLE CIRCUIT TECHNOLOGIES Engineers can't possibly think of everything, every time. One of the worst examples of an engineering failure is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Wash- ington state that collapsed in 1940. e bridge was not engineered to withstand the environ- mental factors placed upon it by wind and weather. I realize comparing a flex circuit to the Taco- ma Narrows Bridge is a stretch (no pun intend- ed), but the point is that no one wants to see a project fail aer they've poured their heart and soul into it. One of the best ways to avoid flex failures is by communicating with your flex fabrica- tor early and oen. Here are a couple key rea- sons why involving your flex and rigid-flex sup- plier early in the design of your product will help you save time and money—and produce a more reliable flex circuit. Product Cost Many things can impact the final cost of the product. Choosing suppliers with signifi- cant experience and knowledge that they are willing to share will, without a doubt, help control your costs in the long run. ese in- dustry experts will pose the dreaded "Yeah, but" questions that can keep your project on track. For example, "We certainly can build your circuit exactly as you have designed it. However, the small tail you have extending from the main body of your circuit is costing you lots of money." ere are some instances in which shrink- ing something by only a quarter of an inch can greatly impact panel density, thereby lowering your production costs. Without knowledge of your supplier's processing needs, you have no way of knowing if the dimensions of your part are an efficient use of the material. Many things factor into this including panel size, tooling holes, fiducials, and coupon requirements. In some instances, having your designs reviewed Flex DFM: When All Things Must be Considered

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