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Cost Impact of Rigid-Flex or Flex PCBs

For a printed circuit board (PCB), you have the option of choosing either a rigid-flex or a flex printed circuit board. While both types vary in their materials, designs and applications, one of the most defining features is cost.

Rigid-Flex PCBs

A rigid-flex PCB combines aspects found in both hardboard and flexible circuits. Multiple layers of rigid circuit boards with flexible circuitry enable rigid-flex PCBs to withstand tough conditions while allowing you to tailor them to the specific needs of your application. The result is a versatile board that can be used in everything from the medical to the aerospace industry.

Factors That Affect Cost

There are three main factors that impact the cost of rigid-flex PCB:

  1. Materials: The raw materials used to manufacture rigid-flex PCBs tend to cost more than traditional PCB materials. While these boards use common materials such as copper foil, they also incorporate no flow prepregs, flexible copper-clad laminates and thicker polyimide films.
  2. Assembly: Because there are separate components and complex steps required, the assembly process costs more.
  3. Manufacturing yield: To manufacture rigid-flex boards, specialized equipment and software tools are needed, which impacts the final cost.

How to Reduce the Cost

There are various ways to lower the cost of your rigid-flex PCB, including:

  • Minimize the amount of circuit layers
  • Choose materials carefully
  • Reduce the thickness of the materials
  • Simplify the configuration
  • Tailor the design process

Flex PCBs

Flex PCBs use a flexible base material for the circuit connection. These circuit boards work well in a variety of industries and environments ranging from consumer electronics to medical systems to automobiles. Regardless of where they are used, they can simplify component assembly, support higher circuit densities and reduce wiring errors.

Factors That Affect Cost

Like the rigid-flex boards, the cost of flex PCB is affected by three main factors:

  1. Size: Most commonly, the cost for a flex PCB is based on the price per square inch. The standard size is 12” x 24” and 18” x 24″. If a larger size is needed, it will likely cost more.
  2. Circuit construction: The fewer circuits in a panel, the lower the cost will be. If your flex PCB’s circuit construction requires additional steps such as folding or adding a stiffener attachment, the price will increase.
  3. Volume: When ordering a low volume quantity of flex PCBs, you may notice a charge to help cover overhead and engineering costs.

How to Reduce the Cost

There are various ways you can reduce the cost of your flex PCB, including:

  • Reduce the number of layers
  • Reduce the thickness of layers
  • Minimize the panel space
  • Choose materials such as the laminate and finishes carefully

Millennium Circuits Limited: Your Source for Rigid-Flex or Flex PCBs

Millennium Circuits Limited is the leading printed circuit board supplier in Pennsylvania, offering both domestic and offshore capabilities for our rigid-flex and flex PCBs. We are proud to deliver innovation and quality assurance in the circuit board technology industry.

Our technicians are highly trained and knowledgeable in both types of PCBs. If you have any questions, reach out to us today and we will get back to you shortly.