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8 SMT Magazine • March 2017 by Stephen Las Marias I-CONNECT007 Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly The expanding use of flexible printed cir- cuits in markets such as military/aerospace elec- tronics, automotive electronics, and medical electronics is fueling the demand growth for this PCB technology. According to a report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA), the global market for flex- ible printed circuits is projected to reach $15.2 billion by 2020, driven by the growing focus of electronics manufacturers on performance and design flexibility. Allied Market Research (AMR), another in- dustry analysis group, is likewise bullish. It proj- ects the worldwide flex printed circuit market to reach $27 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4% from 2016 to 2022. From a regional perspective, Asia-Pacific— which is considered the global hub for elec- tronics production—ranks as the fastest grow- ing market for flex printed circuits, registering a CAGR of 6.7% over the 2013–2020 forecast pe- riod, according to GIA. AMR, on the other hand, notes that Asia- Pacific dominated the global flex printed cir- cuit market in terms of revenue, accounting for more than 46% in 2015, followed by North America. We at I-Connect007 recently conducted a survey on flexible printed circuits to know more about the challenges that designers, fabricators, and assemblers face when dealing with flex cir- cuits. They were asked about the steps in their processes that have the biggest effect on yields; the challenge when dealing with flex circuit materials; as well as the factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of their flex cir- cuit design, fabrication and assembly. Another question focused on market de- mands that are driving the increasing use of flexible printed circuits. Majority of the respon- dents highlighted the trend toward smaller form factors, which is leading to space-constrained designs. From a market applications perspec- tive, the aerospace and defense segment, con- sumer electronics, and medical electronics were E DITOR'S NOTE

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