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How to Terminate the Ends of a Flexible Printed Circuit

Flexible Printed Circuit

The popularity of flexible printed circuits has grown tremendously as more and more electronics are incorporated into devices that need to bend and contour to fit small spaces and curved surfaces. While they may appear similar to rigid PCBs in many ways, there are specific design considerations and unique challenges that require a different approach when designing for these boards.

One of the most important challenges is termination. It’s a process of connecting the end of the flex to your system or appliance to allow electrical signals to flow properly between them. It’s important that these connections match impedance wise as to prevent power loss.

In the case of a flexible printed circuit, there are several different methods available for terminating and connecting it to other components or to the system that will use it. The most common are ZIF connectors, unreinforced flex fingers, standard through-hole and surface mount PCB connectors, and insulation displacement connectors. Each of these options has its own benefits and drawbacks, but they all have a few things in common that make them suitable for flex termination.

How to Terminate the Ends of a Flexible Printed Circuit

Generally speaking, it’s important to have as few vias as possible in the bending region of a flex. Vias are like little I-beams through the flex that act to stiffen it, and when they’re subjected to stress by a bending force they can crack and fail. Instead, try to route the conductors through the center of the board or as close as you can to it. It’s also a good idea to have some wide endings on the ends of your traces. These will have less resistance to bending and will allow for a smooth transition to thinner sections of the traces when needed.

Another way to reduce the risk of a failure due to bending is to stagger the flex conductors as much as possible. A failure in a single layer is more likely to affect the entire flex than one in a middle or outer layer. A good way to achieve this is by having the ground mesh layer on the outermost edge of the flex and the signal layer in the middle.

Finally, it’s a good idea to keep the traces in the bending zone as thin and as short as possible. They’ll be more able to tolerate the flexing of the assembly and the stress of bending it than a thicker, longer trace.

When you’re ready to purchase a flexible circuit, it’s important to choose a flexible circuit manufacturer with experience and knowledge of the technology. All Flex is an industry leader and can help you develop a high-quality, reliable product that will meet all your needs. Contact us today to get started! We offer a variety of services including prototyping, manufacturing, and quality inspections. We can even do some electrical testing on your PCB to make sure it works before you ship it out. Learn more about All Flex by clicking here! Or, give us a call at 1-888-644-9695 to talk with an All Flex design engineer directly.

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