Manufacturing, assembly, testing, and logistics costs are important factors for any project, design, and cost control that uses Rigid-Flex PCB design techniques. A mechanical team(machine) is often required to assist in the flexible design and PCB integration of the final product. This process is time-consuming, costly and error-prone.
To make matters worse, PCB design tools often ignore the folding and assembly problems of hard and soft designs. The Rigid-Flex PCB design requires the designer to think and work with 3D thinking. The flexible part can be folded, twisted and rolled to meet the mechanical design requirements. However, traditional PCB design tools do not support 3D circuit board design or bending and folding simulation of rigid design part, or even the definition of different layer stack design part, including flexible design part.
Because of this, designers are forced to manually convert rigid and flexible parts of 3D design into flat and 2D production formats. After that, the designer also needs to manually record the soft design area and carefully review to make sure there are no components or holes placed between the rigid and flexible areas. This process is also hampered by many other rules, most of which are not supported by PCB design software.
In general, compared with the standard rigid PCB designed with traditional PCB software, which is in a competitive disadvantage, more efforts are needed to design the combination of soft and hard PCB. Fortunately, modern design tools with advanced 3D capabilities can support the definition and simulation of bending in flexible design parts, as well as the definition of different design parts and different board stacks. These tools largely eliminate the reliance on mechanical CAD tools for handling flexible parts, saving designers and design teams time and money.
Through the use of modern PCB design tools, developers and PCB manufacturers timely coordination, promoting the Rigid-Flex PCB technology time saving and efficiency. The Rigid-Flex PCB design requires closer cooperation between designers and manufacturers than the traditional rigid circuit board and cable design. The successful production of Rigid-Flex boards requires designers and manufacturers to jointly develop design rules, including: the number of layers in the design, material selection, hole size, bonding mode and size control. With the right design tools, a clear definition and tradeoff can be made at the beginning of the design to optimize the Rigid-Flex PCB and further reduce the overall cost.
There is no denying that current industry trends and consumer demand are pushing designers and design teams to push the limits of design and to develop new electronic products to meet market challenges. These challenges, especially the demands of today’s mobile devices, have pushed the Rigid-Flex PCB technologies into the mainstream of the design world and into higher commercial value in a wide range of applications, especially for projects starting with hundreds of sets.
Modern PCB design tools support 3D product development, early cooperation and all the necessary definition and simulation of hard and soft combination, which greatly reduces the trouble of Rigid-Flex PCB design and makes its solutions more attractive. In addition, it is cheaper than the rigid PCB design for cable connections. For the design team, different choices mean the product is on the line between success and failure.
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