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52 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2023 Feature Article by Mike Morando PFC FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS Editor Andy Shaughnessy tapped me to write about rigid-flex because so many PCB design- ers and Design007 readers are latching onto the subject, and there is a growing interest—and market—in rigid-flex, especially among tradi- tional board designers. Is this because the market for rigid PCBs has decreased a little bit, thus driving PCB manu- facturers to find solutions that fill fabrication facilities? Perhaps. Could it be that OEMs are looking for ways to make their new products simpler to manufacture, be more reliable, and with fewer part numbers? Probably. If you're coming from the rigid PCB world, you're probably wondering how to get started and how to select a rigid-flex vendor. If you're designing PCBs for an OEM that is betting ever ything on a next-generation rigid-flex design, you would want to use the absolute best vendor for your rigid-flex design. Your new rigid-flex design needs to be put into the right shop to leverage the best manufacturing solution. So, let's look at the expertise, processes, and materials used to manufacture rigid-flex PCBs. Rigid-flex is a hybrid solution comprised of rigid and flex circuits and I would argue there are only two types of rigid-flex fabrication shops in North America: 1. Flexible circuit shops that specialize in the manufacturing of flex and rigid-flex. 2. Rigid PCB shops that build rigid-flex or are migrating in that direction. Both categories are vying for your rigid-flex business. From a 20,000-foot level, I believe that some rigid-flex boards should be built in a rigid PCB shop, and some rigid-flex boards Selecting a Rigid-flex Manufacturer

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