Using Flexible Printed Circuit Electronics

Stopping to think of the very dramatic and profound advances in electronics over the last several decades can be more than a bit overwhelming. Today, flexible printed circuit electronics, also known as just flexible electronics, are used in a wide range of different types of applications and industries.

Most flexible printed circuit electronics are made from plastic substrates. These are often, but not always PEEK (polyether ether ketone) or polyamide, both which can stand up to heat, with PEEK being one of the most commonly used thermoplastics for both industrial and military use. With these options, the actual electronics are placed on the plastic substrate.

The other option for any flexible printed circuit electronics is to screen print the actual circuits, using silver, onto a polyester backing. With these types of designs, either the screen printing or mounting, the actual component can flex and move or easily conform to an irregularly shaped surface. This conforming to the surface, including making a rounded shape, would not be possible with a rigid plastic or metal type of circuit board.

The History

While it may seem logical to assume that a flexible printed circuit would be a very new idea and design option, the first patent was actually provided in England in 1903. In this patented, filed by Albert Hansen, the circuit, or more correctly the conductors, were mounted on a paraffin coated film.

However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that a flexible printed circuit actually became a practical option. These were used in place of a wiring harness to streamline the design of different electronics, but it was still not a widely used technology until the last few decades.

The Design and Applications

Today, there are many different options in flexible electronics. The circuits can vary from single-sided to multilayer options, and there are what are known as rigid-flex circuits which have a layered design allowing for multiple functions in the same circuit. These are commonly used in laptop computers and for specialized military use.

Other applications or industries using flexible electronic circuits include in keyboards, automobile and other equipment instrument panels, controls, printers, disk drives, cameras, smartphones, tablets, calculators and even in the small personalized fitness monitors so popular right now.

Other options for a flexible printed circuit include for use in flexible solar panels, in medical devices, and in just about anything in the communications industry. With the wide range of uses, these circuits are the wave of the future, and new designs and styles continue to come onto the market.

Be the first to like.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Using Flexible Printed Circuit Electronics, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Be Sociable, Share!