Rigid Flex Can Be Used in Smart Clothing

Smart clothing incorporates electronic components and sensors to allow it to perform a variety of functions. These electronic components need to be interconnected and integrated seamlessly into the fabric of the clothing, so they can be worn comfortably and reliably. Rigid flex can be used to interconnect these electronic components within the fabric of the clothing while still providing electrical connections that are durable enough to withstand the bending, stretching and movement associated with smart clothing.

Rigid flex is a combination of rigid and flexible circuit boards laminated together. This allows designers to replace multiple PCBs interconnected with connectors, wires and ribbon cables with a single package that offers improved performance. It is often used in medical, military aerospace and industrial electronics devices and equipment that require a combination of flexibility and reliability. This includes wearable health detection devices, control systems for rotation axes in satellites and automotive electronics like power steering, braking and air conditioning modules.

The rigid and flex areas of the rigid-flex PCB are typically made from polyimide or polyester materials processed through lamination and curing. They may also be coated with a metal or dielectric film for electromagnetic shielding and other design requirements. The plated vias that run through the layers of the rigid-flex PCB are typically etched with a hatched pattern to reduce copper usage and make them more flexible. They should be crosshatched such that the pair pitch and diagonal pitch are equal to minimize impedance. This enables traces to be placed right over the knuckles without having to extend beyond them, allowing for higher speeds and signal integrity.

How Rigid Flex Can Be Used in Smart Clothing

Another advantage of using rigid flex PCBs is that they simplify the installation and repair process by eliminating the need for additional connectors and cables. This can save time and money in long production runs, as well as making the assembly more aesthetically appealing. It can also prevent human error during the installation process and ensure that all parts are connected correctly.

Lastly, rigid-flex PCBs can be designed with a rounded edge to increase their durability and tear resistance. This is particularly important for the flex area of the PCB, where the edges can be subjected to a lot of stress and movement. The rounded edge also reduces the likelihood of a short circuit caused by sharp, bent edges.

The best way to prepare a rigid-flex PCB for manufacturing is to use an advanced and easy-to-use tool, such as Altium Designer. This tool features native MCAD and ECAD tools that enable designers to quickly and easily work with both the rigid and flex areas of the board. Combined with the powerful layer stack manager and board planning mode, it’s easy to start laying out your circuitry and verifying component placement and clearances. The streamlined layout workflow and design validation tools help engineers create rigid-flex PCBs that are ready for manufacturing. This helps them achieve a significant competitive edge over other PCB manufacturers. This is especially true when it comes to quick turnaround and high-quality rigid-flex boards.

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