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Rigid Vs. Flexible PCBs: A Comparison

When considering which printed circuit board you want to have for your product, you might have heard of the various types of printed circuit boards, or PCBs, available. Some common types are rigid and flexible PCBs. What are these two types of PCBs, what are their differences, and what are the pros and cons to each? Learn more to make the right choice for your product.

Rigid PCBs

Rigid PCBs are more common and used in the PCB market today. These printed circuit boards are from one substrate material, often with many layers, though some can come with just a single or double layer. You often find rigid PCBs in electronic devices, such as a computer motherboard or a cell phone’s PCB.

Advantages

Do you want to know if you should choose rigid PCBs? Discover a few reasons why:

  • Immovability: Rigid PCBs get their name from the fact that they are not movable, meaning they do not twist or flex. This helps protect their components from damage.
  • Larger demand: As they are more common in the PCB market, the industry has a greater call for them.
  • Lower manufacturing costs: Rigid PCBs are often less expensive to make and manufacture.
  • Easier and quicker repairs: As the components in a rigid PCB are clearly labeled, this makes diagnostics and repairs quick to do. This also allows for an easier time for the PCB repairperson who needs to disassemble or reassemble your rigid PCB.

A rigid PCB is beneficial for many purposes and many instruments. Talk to an expert about your concerns and needs to see if a rigid PCB is right for you.

Disadvantages

Rigid PCBs, due to their unmovable nature, sometimes do not have the capability to cover multiple areas of a device or system. Additionally, they are often heavier and take up more space than other PCBs. And since a rigid PCB is unmovable, it typically serves one function and is not usually modifiable for another purpose.

Flexible PCBs

Flexible PCBs are printed circuit boards that bend, move, and flex, often made of plastic. They, like rigid PCBs, are available in various layers and formats. They are also available for use in various devices and instruments, such as LED lights, medical equipment, and cars.

Advantages

Flexible PCBs offer a large array of benefits with their flexible nature. Consider choosing a flexible PCB for the following reasons:

  • More flexibility: Do you want one PCB that curls around corners and goes over edges? Flexible PCBs have the capacity of serving your device’s needs and completely covering its entire surface. Additionally, one flexible PCB instead of several rigid PCBs can lower the space your device or instrument needs and likely save you money.
  • Greater durability: As many industries use instruments that operate in harsh environments with temperature extremes, flexible PCBs can help. They are often waterproof and shockproof, as well as resistant against corrosion and hot oils. Flexible PCBs also work in very low and very high temperatures. You will not have to worry about malfunctioning PCBs because of extreme temperature shifts.
  • Quicker turnaround: Flexible PCBs often demand less labor time than rigid PCBs. This ensures that you often have fewer errors during the creation process, which allows for both deceased costs and time.
  • More design freedom: If you have an instrument that requires complex or detailed design, a flexible PCB can offer freedom to create the design your instrument needs.
  • Longer reliability: Due to its nature and materials, a flexible PCB is often useful for millions of cycles before you likely need repairs.
  • Better resistance against vibrations: If you work in an industry that uses high-vibration instruments, then a flexible PCB helps offset any wear and tear sustained from frequent high vibrations.
  • Better airflow and heat dissipation: A flexible PCB often allows for better circulation of air. Due to this and the space-saving abilities of flexible PCBs, heat easily dissipates, ensuring that your parts do not overheat.

Flexible PCBs are reliable in many ways. Discover for yourself whether flexible PCBs are right for your instruments or devices by speaking to PCB manufacturers about what your exact needs are.

Disadvantages

Flexible PCBs, since they need to be movable and bendable, often require more detail and parts than rigid PCBs. Thus, this makes design and manufacturing costs go up. This means that you may have to spend more on a flexible PCB initially.

Contact the PCB Manufacturing Experts Today

Whether you need rigid or flexible PCBs, rely on Streamline Circuits. We provide quality, state-of-the-art printed circuit boards that meet your exact needs. We account for your industry standards, precise requirements, instruments that will use the PCB, and the most cutting-edge technology available. That way, you can have the PCBs that will provide the best performance for the longest time possible. Call us today to learn more.