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68 The PCB Magazine • April 2015 Recent global printed circuit market re- search reveals that flexible circuits still only ac- count for about 13–15% of the overall printed circuit market (PCB 76.2B in 2015 vs. flex 12.7B in 2015). PCBs have been in existence since the 1960s and nearly anybody who designs print- ed circuits first designs a rigid printed circuit board. There are many experienced PCB design- ers working confidently all around the world. They understand the manufacturing capabili- ties and limitations very well as they have been designing these inherent components of the electronics industry for decades. Flexible circuits, on the other hand, tend to be a little intimidating and mysterious to tra- ditional PCB designers. Suddenly engineers in the development group are coming to their de- signers with questions about flexible circuits and these otherwise very experienced men and women find themselves without answers to questions they could answer in their sleep if they pertained to a traditional PCB. It's understandable that there are still ques- tions about flexible circuit design vs. traditional PCB design based on the number of PCBs vs. flexible circuits manufactured worldwide, annually. However those of us in the flex- ible circuit fabrication market are often asked even the simplest of questions: what kind of software do I need to design a flexible circuit? What kind of files must I submit for quotation/ fabrication of a flexible circuit? These are ques- tions that arise from the lack of experience in flexible circuit design. Below we will address some of the common concerns we hear from PCB designers and help to clarify some of the unknowns and show that the vast experience gained as PCB designers carries over to the flex- ible circuit design as well. Similarities and Differences PCB design rules are well known. There are minimum hole sizes, minimum trace width, minimum space between traces and pads. We by John Talbot TraMonTo CIrCuITS flex matters Design Considerations: Flexible Circuit vs. Traditional PCB Column

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