Flexible printed circuits (FPCs) have become a popular alternative to traditional printed circuit boards (PCBs). They are characterized by the use of a flexible substrate. You can bend and flex FPCs without breaking them. The same can’t be said for PCBs. If you’re thinking about buying an FPC, though, you may have some questions.
What Are They Used For?
You can find FPCs in many different types of devices. Smartphones and other mobile devices often feature them. Many liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) also feature FPCs. There are even FPCs in solar panel installations. Regardless, FPCs serve the same purpose as PCBs; the only difference is that they are flexible.
What Are Classes?
Most FPCs fall under one of three classes. There are class 1, class 2 and class 3 FPCs. Class 1 FPCs have minimum inspection, testing and performance requirements. Class 2 FPCs have moderate inspection, testing and performance requirements. Class 3 FPCs have the highest levels of inspection, testing and performance requirements.
Are They Single-Sided or Double-Sided?
FPCs can be single-sided or double-sided. Single-sided FPCs only have conductive pathways on a single side. Double-sided FPCs, as you may have guessed, have conductive pathways on both sides. When choosing an FPCs, you’ll need to consider whether the conductive pathways are printed on one or both sides.
What Are the IPC Variations
FPCs are available in four IPC variations. IPC 6013 type 1 FPCs feature a single layer with insulating material on one or both sides and access to the conductors. IPC 6013 type 2 FPCs feature two layers with insulating film between them. They also have plated interconnect holes and access to the conductors on both sides. IPC 6013 type 3 FPCs are characterized by the use of three or more layers with insulating film between the layers. They have interconnect holes and access to the conductors on one or both sides. IPC 6013 type 4 FPCs have two or more layers with insulating film between them, and they support the use of a rigid PCB.
Do They Have Backlighting?
FPCs can be designed with or without backlighting. Some of them feature light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting. LED backlighting consists of LEDs that, when activated, illuminate the FPCs from behind. Along with LED backlighting, some FPCS feature light guides. Light guides consist of foils that are designed to distribute light. They distribute the light produced by the LEDs to achieve a uniform level of brightness.