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44 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2023 First, do the right things; then, do those things right. Despite what some seem to believe, rigid-flex circuits are not a new technology. In fact, they are more than a half-century old. At the time of the invention, my friend omas Sterns was working at Sanders Associates, the pioneering flex circuit manufacturer. Like many products in the first decades of printed circuit technol- ogy, they were working on a military applica- tion. e objective was to provide a reliable method for reducing the size, bulk, weight, and questionable reliability of wire harness assemblies while simultaneously reducing cost and assuring that human error might be mini- mized. ese were all vitally important con- cerns for military and aerospace products. I'm reminded of a statement from U.S. Navy Capt. Frank Akers: Unlocking the Key to Rigid-flex Design Success "Today with the modern high-performance airplane, electronics is a must if we are to get the benefit of the tremendous performance available. We have made electronics equip- ment smaller, have made it lighter, and we have made it work. Printed circuits, (have been) the greatest weight and space saver of them all." While this sounds like a recent comment, Capt. Akers actually spoke these words in 1947, more than 75 years ago. It tells me that while the key design objectives of rigid-flex are largely unchanged, the technology—and diversity of applications—has advanced steadily. Knowing that rigid-flex circuits are an option, designers have been (with ever greater frequency) look- ing to rigid-flex technology to help them solve vexing interconnection problems. Most nota- bly, and perhaps with some surprise, rigid-flex circuits have enabled a substantial percentage Flexible Thinking Feature Column by Joe Fjelstad, VERDANT ELECTRONICS

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