PCB Manufacturing

How to Choose the Right Flexible PCB Material for Your Project

Flexible PCB material

Printed circuit boards (PCBs)  are the basic elements of all electronic devices, just as human cells to humans. It is considered the skeleton of every electronic device that is manufactured, so these boards must be well-made and highly efficient. Therefore, we must focus primarily on the raw materials that make up PCBs. The materials that constitute the PCB are important because they may affect the efficiency, performance, durability and reliability of the product, therefore, we have to choose the right PCB materials according to the specific situation.

We also find that choosing the appropriate material may in turn lead to reducing the project budget, and this is certainly something we all strive for. Therefore, we must be more careful in choosing the correct materials to produce PCBs. Since there is a clear and rapid development in the technology of manufacturing electronic devices, there have become many types of materials used in the manufacture of PCBs and thus it has become difficult to choose between them.

About PCBs, there are mainly three different types, the first type is called rigid board, the second type is called soft board and the third type is a combination of soft and rigid board called flex-rigid PCB.

Here we will mainly focus on one of these types, which is flexible PCB materials. How much do you know about flexible boards? Please take a look at our introduction.

The main knowledge about flexible PCB

The full name of flexible PCB is called flexible printed circuit board(also called soft PCB or flexible circuit), which indicates that it is a board with high flexibility. It has gained wide popularity among types of PCB boards, as it has, as mentioned, high flexibility and the ability to bend perfectly and efficiently. It is also lightweight, thin, and can twist very freely. Because it is more flexible and bendable, it has been an alternative and choice in many applications using rigid PCBs.

It’s rather interesting, which is why it has found its way as one of the most sought-after boards in the industry. Their ability to be highly flexible makes PCBs able to adapt and fit into small spaces and irregular design shapes, and thus they have become a solution for many electronic designs due to the different and exciting approaches in designing electronic circuits.

It has many advantages, but we can summarize them as follows:

  • Flexibility: This is definitely one of the key features why you should choose a flexible PCB, so you can get a PCB that has the full ability to bend without breaking and thus shape any product without sticking uniformly.
  • Light in weight: as it is made of very small components, we find it light and easy to carry.

It can be used in many advanced and modern products for different purposes

Its cost is low: Since it simplifies the manufacturing process in some way, it has helped in reducing the overall manufacturing cost.

The selection of flexible PCB materials

Now that we know what a flexible PCB is and its advantages in general, let us now move on to explaining the flexible PCB materials used in the manufacturing process. As its popularity increases, we find that there are several types of materials used in its design, and to know how to choose the right flexible PCB material for your project, you must know what these materials are and their characteristics first. The most common of these materials are as follows.

1. PET (polyester)

They are called polyester or polyethylene terephthalate. It is one of the primary flexible PCB materials. It has good flexibility, high bendability, and is suitable for small places. It also has high moisture resistance and chemical resistance. When exposed to high temperatures, we find that it maintains its physical properties and electrical properties as well, and therefore it is suitable for applications that contain integrated electronic circuits and has a lower cost with a relatively high temperature.

2. PI (polyimide)

Polyimide material of flexible PCB

This flexible PCB material is characterized by its very high thermal stability, lightweight, excellent chemical resistance, insulation properties and very high flexibility, which makes it very highly compatible with the applications worn, due to its lightweight and high flexibility. It also has excellent mechanical resistance and very good thermal stability. We find that it can withstand hot temperatures of up to 260 degrees Celsius and more. It also has high reliability in performance and electrical properties. All these qualities have made PI a popular flexible PCB material in the process of manufacturing. If your project requires high flexibility, high thermal endurance and reliable electrical performance, this should be your choice.

But we must keep in mind that several grades of PI use flexible PCB production such as Kapton which can provide thermal stability up to 400°C, there are also Apical polyimides that have low dielectric constant and high insulation resistance. Durimide Polyimides is one of its grades that is characterized by optical insulation and high precision.

These materials and other grades of polyimides provide high operating temperatures, making them the best materials for use under high-temperature environmental conditions.

3. PTFE (Teflon)

It is polytetrafluoroethylene but is known by its trade name Teflon. It is a flexible PCB material known for its resistance to moisture and chemicals. It is also suitable for stable temperatures and applications that do not require high power consumption. But we find it relatively expensive.

4. Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP)

This flexible PCB material is characterized by its excellent electrical properties, good electrical insulation, and resistance to moisture absorption. We find it generally used in high-frequency applications.

The applications of flexible PCB materials

Conclusion

So, all you have to do is determine what the characteristics of your project are and what its requirements are. For example, if the project requires high chemical resistance with thermal stability, in this case, you should use PTFE, as it is widely used in industrial applications and also in medical devices, but requires a high cost. If your project requires high flexibility and high temperature resistance, PI will be your choice. We find it very popular in space-related electronic systems. We find it used in engine control panels and missile guidance, as well as in cars and wearable devices. What requires high flexibility, strength, reliability and certainly high thermal resistance, your first choice will be polyimide. Therefore, based on the characteristics and requirements that your project will consist of, you will correctly select the right flexible PCB material for your project.

The bottom line is that flexible PCB materials have distinct and exciting properties that differ significantly from regular rigid PCBs. By choosing the appropriate and correct flexible PCB material, you will avoid many problems that you may encounter in the production process. Keep in mind that the process of choosing and determining the appropriate material is very important, and based on which you build your project, so you must carefully determine the characteristics and requirements that you want.

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