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76 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2023 Rigid-flex, Rigidized Flex, or Hybrid Flex? Figure 1: Cross-section of a rigid-flex board. Article by Mike Morando PFC FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS In a recent interview with Design007 Maga- zine managing editor Andy Shaughnessy, he asked me about rigid-flex and its new popular- ity. is seems like a perfect opportunity to dig into the topic and discuss the differentiation between rigid-flex, rigidized flex, and what I am calling a hybrid flex. The Original: Rigid-flex Rigid-flex technology was developed years ago for military and aerospace applications. But rigid-flex has become more popular in recent years. Open a cellular phone, for exam- ple, and more than likely the internal electron- ics are mounted on a rigid-flex. In case you're not familiar with the technol- ogy, a rigid-flex is a blend of a rigid printed cir- cuit board and a flex circuit. To manufacture a rigid-flex, a flex circuit is compressed between layers of a rigid PCB design, which leaves the flex area exposed to, well, flex. e rigid areas are, in most cases, used for placing compo- nents. e vias/through-holes in both the rigid and flex areas are aligned and plated just like a normal multilayer circuit solution, creating a hybrid, one-piece integrated solution.

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