The role of PCB in the manufacturing industry is profound. PCB, which is the abbreviated form for Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) helps in bolstering the high-performance of electrical equipment. Instead of having multiple wires that disorient the finishing of electronic equipment, using PCB makes it possible to have all the electrical components in one place.
The Types of PCB
The popularity of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) also extends to the different types it has. Currently, there are three (3) types of PCB and each of them is working amazingly well.
These three types of PCBs are the Rigid PCB, the Flexible (Flex) PCB, and the Rigid-Flex PCB.
For good reasons, the Flexible (Flex) PCB has been dominating the industry. Because of the flexibility, the lightweight, and the unique way of incorporating it into the Printed Circuit Boards, it is now the favourite of many electronic brands.
It should be noted that the Flexible (Flex) PCB, like many other PCB types, functions as the “spinal cord of electrical devices.” This means that it helps to unify the motherboard and all other boards and components.
What Is Flex PCB?
Flex PCB has a different model when it comes to the designing and the manufacturing of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).
The way it functions is that it allows the circuitry to be designed in a way that it fits into the electronic product in view.
Besides, the designing and the production of the Flex PCB is characterized by a distinct patterning of the printed circuitry. This, in turn, works alongside the component arrangements for an all-around PCB design.
Above all, a malleable base material is a primary material that is used to facilitate the designing and the manufacturing of the Flex Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
Flex PCB vs. Other PCBs
Understandably, you are wondering about what makes Flex PCB better than the other types of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).
First, Flex PCB is lightweight, which is the main reason why it is considered flexible. This makes the design easier.
Second, the method of designing the Flex PCB differs from those of the other types of PCBs. In this case, Flex PCB can be fitted or installed on the board by placing/fitting it into the desired position on the board. This is better than the traditional building of the electronic product to fit into the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
The Flex PCB Manufacturer
A PCB manufacturer that specializes in the production of the Rigid PCB may not be very good at the Flex PCB design. Hence, there is always a need to go directly to the Flex PCB manufacturer because that is where you have the assurances of getting the best of service.
With that in mind, we will look at some of the important criteria that will help you in selecting the best Flex PCB manufacturer.
- Does the Flex PCB Manufacturer Have the Relevant Equipment?
The first consideration in choosing a Flex PCB manufacturer is the equipment. Because the manufacturer wouldn’t make use of the bare hands for the designing and the production of the Flex PCB, you need to check if the equipment and tools are ready.
You must arm yourself with information on the tools and equipment that are needed in the production phases of the Flex PCB. With that in mind, you can easily spot the ones that are missing.
Now, some of the equipment and tools you should be looking for are:
- Surface finishing tools
- Drilling tools
- Imaging equipment and tools
Aside from considering those tools (and many others in that category), you also need to look at how the Flex PCB manufacturer adapts to the latest technology. This makes it possible for the Flex PCB project to be completed in good time and with the use of the latest innovations in the PCB industry.
- On-Demand Production
For some reasons, you will need to the designing and the production of Flex PCB “to go your own way.” You want your instructions to be carried out to the letter.
You must look at the possibility of getting on-demand Flex PCB production services from the manufacturer. The point is that manufacturer will be able to follow the guidelines you gave to pattern the Flex PCB to different shapes and sizes.
Also, the on-demand production of Flex PCB makes a whole lot of impact when it comes to the volume. You can choose to have a few designed and increase it later in the future.
- Ability to Supply Multiple Components
In as much as Flexible (Flex) PCB, Rigid PCB, and Rigid-Flex PCB are the major type of PCBs, they are not the only ones.
When it comes to the Flex PCB, you have many options to choose from. Ideally, you have variants to the Flex PCB. Some of them are:
- Double-sided Flex PCB
- Single-sided Flex PCB
- Multi-layer Flex PCB
Because there are many variants, you want to see if the Flex PCB manufacturer can supply the components. If the manufacturer you intend to patronize can’t do that, it is an indication that you should look elsewhere.
A Flex PCB manufacturer that means business should be in a position to supply the different components of the varied types of Flex PCB.
Besides, the manufacturer should have a good working relationship with the components wholesalers because that guarantees faster sourcing at affordable costs.
Expertise or mastery of something has always been one of the important factors that can swing a job to a Flex PCB manufacturer.
You don’t want to work with a manufacturer that has a generic experience, i.e. – experienced in general Flex PCB manufacturing.
Instead, you want to go with a Flex PCB manufacturer that has industry experience, in this case, with the designing and manufacturing of the Flex PCB.
As an addition, it will be ideal if you can ask the Flex PCB manufacturer if it has considerable experience working with other companies or brands that are related to your industry.
- Standards and Certifications
There is a correlation with the certification of a Flex PCB manufacturer with the success of your Flex PCB project.
If the manufacturer has the backing of the industry certifications and standards, it interprets that it can offer the best quality service when it comes to Flex PCB.
To help you further, here are some of the certifications and standards you should be expecting of the Flex PCB manufacturer:
- UL 94V-0 Fire-Resistance Certification
This is one of the many conformance certifications that the Flex PCB manufacturer ought to have.
It means that the Flex PCB that is manufactured by the manufacturer is fire-resistant.
If this certification is not presented to you by the manufacturer, it will be in your best interest to discontinue the project.
- Compliance with the rules of IPC, UL, and ISO
- Quality of the Flex PCB
How qualitative is the Flex PCB? Aside from the use of the relevant equipment and tools for production, the manufacturer should also provide you with the best quality.
It might interest you to know that the quality of the Flex PCB cuts across many lines. Some of the key considerations of the quality are:
- High-speed communication lines
- High-density design
- High conductivity
- Long-term durability
If you are not fully convinced with the proclaimed quality of the Flex PCB, you want to use the E-Test to inspect and find out the actual quality.
- Can the Manufacturer Release a Prototype?
You need to consider if the Flex PCB can offer you a model to test. Considering that Flex PCB (and indeed PCB in general) is delicate, you don’t want to have technical faults coming up later to usurp the performance of the entire board.
Hence, you need to ensure that the Flex PCB manufacturer can provide a model or prototype before the completion of the project. You will then check to see if there parts that need to be adjusted or altered for better efficiency.
The Flex PCB manufacturer you want to contact ought to provide Flex PCB testing services.
This is important because it helps to point out the faults on the circuit board.
You don’t want to break a bank to get your Flex PCB done. You also want the best quality at pocket-friendly costs.
To that end, it is advised that you go for a Flex PCB manufacturer that can give you the best quality at affordable rates.
- Customer Support
The general rule is that a Flex PCB manufacturer that has good customer support tends to treat the customers better.
The communication that exists between the customer support department of the Flex PCB manufacturer is a direct revelation of how your Flex PCB projects will be treated.
If you are nicely treated by the customer support, you can be confident that your Flex PCB projects are in the best hands.
There is no denying that selecting a Flex PCB manufacturer in the “crowded PCB industry” can be stressful.
We have now made things a lot easier for you by discussing (above) the ten (10) factors that will lead you to the best Flex PCB manufacturer.
How do you select your Flex PCB manufacturer?