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The design guidelines for flexible circuits, although similar to rigid circuits, are somewhat unique. In essence, flex-circuits furnish unlimited freedom of packaging geometry while retaining the precision density, and repeatability of printed circuits. Flex-circuits typically replace the common hard-wire interface between electronic assemblies. The flexible circuits, however, have significant advantages over the hard-wired alternative because they fit only one way, eliminate wire routing errors, and save up to 75% on space and weight. Because the flex-circuit conductor patterns can maintain uniform electrical characteristics they contribute to controlling noise, crosstalk, and impedance. The flex-circuits will often be designed to replace complex wire harness assemblies and connectors to further improve product reliability.
This tutorial has been developed to furnish the design professionals, systems engineers and assembly and test engineering specialists with a thorough understanding of the materials, fabrication process variations and preferred design practices for flexible and rigid-flex circuits detailed in the IPC-2223 standard. In addition, the requirements for automated SMT assembly will be defined and will include detailed discussion regarding panel planning and assembly process variations.