The design of a multi-layer PCB (printed circuit boards) can be very complicated. The fact that a design even needs to use more than two layers implies that the required number of circuits will not fit onto just a top and a bottom surface. Even in cases where the circuitry does fit onto two external layers with no problem, the PCB designer may decide to add power and ground planes internally in order to correct a performance shortcoming.
Owing to the prevalence of complex processors, USB devices, and antennas printed directly onto the board surface, more and more PCB designs now require impedance control and testing than ever before. In response to the increased demand, circuit board manufacturers have invested in sophisticated modeling software and testing units, so they are equipped to meet the requirements.
At Epec we work on such a varied and technical catalog of products, so our engineers must be comfortable leveraging every manufacturing technology available to them in order to create solutions in design and production. One of the most important technologies that we use is 3D printing.
From controlling condensation on electronics to keeping food warm, flexible heaters provide many advantages to commercial industries such as medical, electronics, aerospace, food and beverage, and refrigeration. Silicone and Kapton® heaters are the most common heaters used due to their flexibility, great thermal transfer, rapid warmup and varying temperature applications.
Manufacturers requiring localized heating for their applications turn to the advantages of flexible heaters that are mounted to components and equipment. These heaters can provide low level or high-level heat at varying temperatures to offer the appropriate thermal transfer based on the applications.
Whether used in the aerospace industry to de-ice equipment, or the food industry to bring ingredients up to a suitable temperature, flexible heaters provide the right amount of generated heat based on the application. These types of heaters can be attached to smooth, bulky and curved equipment in different sizes and functions.
Flexible circuit boards are necessary in numerous applications where a design requires the circuit to be bent within the electrical equipment or electronic device. However, it is not desired to have the flexible circuit board bend adjacent to connectors, mounted components, solder joints, and hole patterns. In these instances, a stiffener needs to be designed in to add rigidity and stability so that the flex circuit performs reliably.
Selecting the optimum flex circuit board material is a key element to the success of a flexible circuit design. A wide variety of materials and configurations are available to address the needs of today’s design applications.
When developing a flex PCB based design, one of the most common early decisions is whether a flex circuit with stiffener(s) will meet the design requirements or if a rigid-flex construction is necessary or more effective. While there is some overlap between the two methodologies, there are significant capability, performance, and cost differences that require review to ensure a successful design.
The integration of a flex circuit(s) with rigid PCBs into a rigid-flex configuration can solve many of today’s design challenges. The combination of the mechanical capabilities of flex circuits with the functionality of rigid PCBs is a solution that provides many benefits, including improved reliability, tighter packaging capabilities, high speed signal performance, reduced assembly costs, and opportunities for further overall design packaging reductions.