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50 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2018 Feature by Dave Lackey and Anaya Vardya AMERICAN STANDARD CIRCUITS Designing Flex Circuits for First-Pass Success, Part 1 The design process is arguably the most important part of the flex circuit procurement process. The decisions made in the design pro- cess will have a lasting impact, for better or worse, throughout the manufacturing cycle. In advance of providing important details about the actual construction of the flex circuit, it is of value to provide some sort of understand- ing of the expected use environment for the finished product. The electronics industry serves several dif- ferent markets that do not always share the same product acceptability or reliability expec- tations. For this reason, the electronics indus- try, through IPC and other standards organi- zations, has developed a classification system that specifies what is expected of products for different classes. The system of classification is not intended to be a measure of quality. Rather, quality is a matter of conformance to a set of established requirements for a product in a given application. Therefore, quality products can be created in each of the classifications within the system. It is generally accepted that there are three classes of product. These have been defined by IPC standards as follows: Class 1 – Consumer products and products for non-critical applications where cost is normally the primary driver. Class 2 – Higher-order products in terms of quality and reliability expectations, including telecommunications, computers and general industrial. Class 3 – High-reliability applications including military, aerospace, automotive and medical products. By defining the class of the product being designed, the purchaser is letting the manu- facturer know what added controls to apply to the manufacturing process and the level of care they will need in the inspection process to

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