Are you planning to buy a flexible printed circuit (FPC)? FPCs have become a popular alternative to traditional printed circuit boards (PCBs). They still contain conductive pathways, and they are used for the same purpose of controlling an electrical circuit. Only FPCs, however, are flexible. You can bend them without breaking or otherwise damaging them. Below are several things to consider when choosing an FPC.
While they are all flexible, FPCs are available in different circuit classes. You can find them in Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 circuits. Class 1 FPCs are the least expensive. They are made using minimum inspection, testing and performance requirements. Class 2 FPCs are a step up from their Class 1 counterparts. They are made using moderate inspection, testing and performance requirements. Finally, Class 3 FPCs are made using the highest levels of inspection, testing and performance requirements.
You should consider the IPC type when choosing an FPC. IPS is an organization that governs the design specifications for FPCs and other circuits. They create design specifications, and many manufacturers follow these specifications when creating their circuits.
There’s IPC 6013 Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 and Type 4. Each IPC 6013 specification features a different design. Type 1, for instance, is designed with a single layer that features insulating material on one or both sides. Type 3, on the other hand, is designed with three or more layers. An insulating film is placed between the layers.
FPCs might be flexible, but they can still support backlighting. Backlighting is typically achieved with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs are placed behind the FPC where they are able to illuminate it.
Some of the benefits of LED backlighting for FPCs include the following:
- Energy efficient
- Conserves space
- Produces ample illumination
In addition to LEDs, FPCs support light guides. Light guides are layers of foil that are designed to distribute light throughout the circuit or device with which they are used. Light guides don’t actually produce light. They are known as “light guides” because they distribute or “guide” the light throughout the circuit or device.
When most people think of circuits, they envision rigid circuits or PCBs. But there’s another type of circuit available: FPCs. FPCs are layer-based circuits that are flexible. When choosing a FPC, you should consider the circuit class, IPC type and backlighting.