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30 SMT Magazine • March 2017 by Davina McDonnell SALINE LECTRONICS There is a circuit board assembly in almost every product with an on/off switch. Just sit- ting in your office, you are within arm's reach of at least four or five items with printed cir- cuit board assemblies (PCBAs) inside of them— computer, calculator, phone, thermostat, dig- ital clock, fitness band. And that's just within your office! Stepping out of work into daily life, you'll encounter products with PCBAs at every turn—there are countless circuit board assem- blies in your car, in your home, in your doctor's office, at your local gym. Put simply, they are everywhere. The proliferation of circuit board assemblies in so many different product types wouldn't be feasible without the use of rigid-flex and flex circuits. Could we appropriately put a rigid cir- cuit board assembly into a small ankle moni- tor? Or a solar panel? Or a wearable infant safe- ty device? Flex circuits have changed the way product development engineers can design and package their electronic products. Flex applications have opened the doors for PCBAs to move out of square, box enclosures and fit into small, tight, even oddly shaped three-dimensional spaces that can withstand harsh vibration and multi- ple flex uses. These thin, flexible circuits have complete- ly revolutionized the use of PCBAs in certain applications. And while these flex assemblies may perform in the same way a traditional rigid PCBA does, they have their own set of assembly rules and manufacturing nuances. "Flex circuit designs can make some things more painful for contract manufacturers," com- mented Dave Cusumano, VP of Engineering at Saline Lectronics. "We've come up with a vari- ety of techniques to overcome specific flex cir- cuit assembly hurdles." Flex circuits don't play by the same rules as rigid applications in the assembly process— they're light, bendy, and can be heat sensitive. To ensure optimal quality and guarantee that the board will not be damaged while inside manufacturing equipment, a flex circuit must have strong support. SUPPORTIVE TOOLING: The Magic Ingredient for Flex Circuit Assembly FEATURE Figure 1: Cathy Cox, process engineer, and John Mielke, supervisor for selective solder and wave solder, discuss the first time build manu- facturing plan for a rigid-flex assembly in the SMT area of Saline Lectronics.

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