Speaking of “PCB”, many people will think of a rigid PCB. However, the term “PCB” can refer to either a rigid PCB or a flexible PCB. Flexible PCBs are more commonly known as flex circuits(flex boards, flexible circuit boards, flexible printed circuit boards and flexible electronics). Recently, Flex circuits are highly welcome in the market since they can be bent or twisted. However, in the most basic sense, rigid PCBs and flexible PCBs have the same ultimate function of connecting various electrical and mechanical components together.
When to Use Rigid and When to Use Flexible
Rigid PCBs typically cost less than flex circuits as flex circuits may eliminate the need for components such as connectors, wire harnesses, and other circuit boards. By removing these components from a design, material cost, labor and assembly cost are all reduced.
Many electronic devices (laptop and desktop computers, audio keyboards, solid-state drives, flat-screen TVs and monitors, children’s toys, and various electronic gadgets) employ rigid PCBs instead of flexible PCBs. However, flex circuits may be found in ultra-compact and/or high-performance devices, including GPS units, tablet PCs, smart phones, cameras, and wearables. Flex circuit makes installation get much easier.
Finally, a flex circuit and a rigid circuit can be used together—as a rigid flex PCB(Rigid flex circuit)—if necessary. The proper application of rigid flex circuit offers optimum solutions for difficult, limited space conditions.