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JingHongYi PCB (HK) Co., Limited

Flex-Rigid PCB Technology

Flex-Rigid PCB Technology

What is Flex-Rigid PCB?

Flex Printed circuit and Printed circuit board gave the birth of new products Flex-Rigid PCB. It contains one or more rigid zones and one or more flexible zones on a printed circuit board, they through pressing and other processes formed circuit board with FPC characteristics and rigid PCB characteristics.

Flex-rigid PCB

Application Area:

Flex-rigid PCB widely used in medical equipment, smartphones, drone, intelligent wearable equipment, robots, curved display, high-end industrial control equipment, aerospace, aviation satellites and other fields. Flex-rigid PCB will able to shine in near future with its excellent physical characteristics follow the development of intelligent equipment to high integration, lightweight, miniaturization, and the new requirements of industrial 4 for the personalized production.

Flex-Rigid PCB advantages:

  • Lighter
  • Dielectric is thin
  • Transmission routing is short
  • Small through hole
  • Small noise signal, high reliability
  • Flexible to change shape in special space requirement.
  • Resist high and low temperature and fire.
  • Can fold and don`t affect the transmission.
  • Against electrostatic disturbance.

Flex-Rigid PCB weakness:

  • The fabricate technology is complex: involved rigid PCB and Flex PCB technology, it`s very complex to make them at the same time.
  • The cost of equipment are expensive for both rigid PCB and flex PCB.
  • Use: if one board damages, another boar is unuseful.

The process of Flex-Rigid PCB:

Flex-Rigid PCB fabricate process chart

1. Material selection

The DuPont copper clad material flexible plate (AP adhesive series) flexible polyimide substrate, polyimide is a kind of very good flexibility, excellent electrical and thermal properties of the material, but it is hygroscopic and larger not alkali resistant. For rigid plates, the rigid material of the PI resin series can be pressed together with P95 base material, and the warping deformation of the composite resin system can be avoided when the rigid-flexible plate is pressed together.

The adhesive between the deflection plate and the hard plate is best to use the No flow (low flow) Prepreg for pressing, because of its small mobility of soft and hard plastic transition regions are of great help, will not cause the transition zone to be reprocessed or cause the function of affected due to overflow. The outer protective material pattern, also is the solder layer, there are three kinds of choices, the first is the traditional film (Coverlay), is a selection of polyimide material plus adhesive directly with the circuit board etching after protection to laminated pressed, the covering film for pressing performing a welding part, therefore, can not meet the assembly of more detailed requirements, second kinds of photosensitive dry film developing type cover, with film machine after pressing, the leakage of sensitive developing welding part, to solve the problem of fine assembly, the third category is the liquid screen printing type covering material commonly used are thermosetting polyimide materials, such as the sun and the PSR-4000 type flexible circuit board for developing photosensitive solder resist ink, this kind of material can satisfy the flexible plate of fine pitch and high-density assembly requirements.

2.Key control of the production process

The development flex board is based on the flexible plate and high-density multilayer rigid plate on, has the same place, in the process of manufacturing and rigid Flex PCB board but due to material and its particularity in the structure and application of the decision to make it from the design requirements the process is different from the rigid plate and flexible ordinary board, to test and adjust to almost every aspect of production, and ultimately optimize the whole process and parameters.

3. Internal monolithic graphics transfer

Pattern transfer occupies a very important position in the printed circuit board with high density, fine lines, flexible lines, especially. Because the flexible single chip is thin and soft, it brings great difficulties to the surface treatment, and the cleaning condition and roughness of the copper foil surface directly affect the adhesion of the dry film and the manufacture of fine lines. The mechanical cleaning plate has high requirements for equipment, and not suitable for pressure may cause the substrate deformation, folding and telescopic size, the operation is not easy to control, so we can choose to use the electrolytic cleaning method.

This method can not only ensure the surface cleanness but also use the micro-etching method to ensure the roughness of the copper surface, which is beneficial to the fabrication of 0.1mm~0.15mm line width/spacing graphics. In addition to paying attention to the control of acid etching the etch rate to ensure that the design requirements of the width, spacing, more attention should be paid to prevent the single curl, fold, is the best guide plate and auxiliary and close the exhaust system on the device.

4. Layered positioning of flexible material

Poor dimensional stability and flexible substrate materials, this is because of the polyimide material moisture absorption strong, after wet processing or shrinkage in different temperature and humidity in the environment of severe deformation, caused by the difficulties of multilayer laminated alignment.

In order to overcome the difficulties, can adopt the following measures: to be considered in the design of design and drawing the spot target alignment spots, in order to guarantee the punching hole or the rivet hole alignment accuracy, without deviation caused by interlayer graphics in the pack the lead scrap. The positioning hole after punching by OPE can eliminate the error caused by material stretching and deformation during wet treatment. After lamination, drill holes with X-ray to determine offset and make drilling more accurate.

In view of the material characteristics and environmental characteristics of polyimide, drawing the outer film with reference to the offset of drilling hole, so as to improve the coincidence degree between the outer plate and the grilling plate. In this way, we can satisfy the requirement of interlayer alignment to guarantee the 0.1mm~0.15mm ring width and guarantee the accuracy of outer pattern transfer.

5. Laminate

Even punching location by OPE, before the treatment of laminated monolithic interlayer contraposition, also has a great impact. First, because of the polyimide material, not alkali resistant, swelling in an alkali solution, so in the process of treatment of black, brown, in strong alkaline processes such as oil, black, brown and other appropriate to reduce the temperature and reduce the time.

The method is feasible because the adhesive layer is used without considering the change of the bonding layer in the alkali solution. Secondly, the monolithic baking after oxidation should be avoided vertically, and the horizontal baking method should be adopted to reduce the bending deformation and keep it as smooth as possible. After baking as far as possible to shorten the molding time, moisture absorption and prevent the single again.

Because the flexible monolithic laminate before deformation, poor planeness, coupled with the adhesive sheet of the resin flow is much lower than that of the prepreg, laminated with rigid plate so as to make the adhesive sheet and a good combination and embedding fine line spacing, we chose to use the cover form a good material as laminated gasket materials, such as polypropylene film, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), silicon rubber sheet, can improve the quality of laminated flexible plate. After the test, it is considered that the ideal gasket material is silicone rubber, which can ensure the shape of the gasket and reduce the shrinkage deformation of the pressing part.

6. Drilling

The structure of the hard and soft composite plate is complex, so it is very important to determine the optimum technological parameters of drilling hole to obtain good hole wall. In order to prevent the inner ring of copper and the nail head of the flexible base material, we should choose the sharp bit first. If the number of processed printed boards is large or the number of holes in the processing plate is large, the drill bit must be changed after drilling a certain number of holes.

Bit speed and feed are the most important process parameters. When the feed is too slow, the temperature rises sharply, causing a lot of drilling. The feed is too fast, it is easy to break the drill bit, bond sheet, as well as the dielectric layer of the tear and nailhead phenomenon.

7. Clean dirt and pitting

The fouling of hard and soft board is mainly composed of polyimide resin, epoxy glass fiber, and epoxy resin. Inert flexible polyimide resin for concentrated sulfuric acid solution, and the Potassium Permanganate solution in alkaline and will produce swelling, so the conventional wet stain very difficult. We also tried using concentrated sulfuric acid or alkaline solution to Potassium Permanganate contamination, change the concentration, temperature, processing time and other parameters, several tests have not received satisfactory results, so we gave up the traditional wet chemical stain, using plasma method.

8. Electroless copper plating and copper plating

It should be pointed out that the ductility of the copper plating layer is higher than that of rigid-flexible bonding and flexible multilayer printed board and has higher tensile strength. When heating shock, the total expansion rate of rigid-flexible composite printed board substrate is 1.65% larger than that of the copper layer in the hole, and this index is only 0.03% in rigid multilayer plate.

Thus it can be seen that the tensile stress of the metal hole in the rigid-flexible combined PCB is much larger than that of the rigid multilayer plate. At the same time, the thickness of the copper plating layer also has a certain influence on the reliability of the rigid-flexible printed circuit board. Most rigid and flexible laminates increase the reliability of the metalized hole by increasing the thickness of the copper layer on the whole wall.

9. Surface resist welding and solderability protection layer

Due to the flexible plate with flexural requirements during use, generally in the flexible window or flexible part is mostly used polyimide protective film protective circuit crimping way, but for the precision line in polyimide cladding type window and it is difficult to meet the requirements, but can use the solder mask ink coating, solder resist ink ordinary brittle no, flexible, can not meet the requirements, so we can choose a flexible screen printing type developing liquid photosensitive solder resist ink, both can play a solder mask, moisture-proof, anti-pollution, resistance to mechanical deflection and so on, in addition to a method that is attached to developing flexible cover dry film, but the high price of raw materials moreover, vacuum film machine to finish well coated.

10. Outline cutting processing

The rigid flexible printed circuit board should be milled on the milling machine, and the flexible part should be paid attention to, because the flexible part is easy to distort, and the milling shape is uneven and rough. A pad with a thickness equal to the thickness of the rigid outer layer can be inserted up and down the flexible window, and when the milling shape is pressed, the smooth and uniform contour edge can be ensured. If you are using the pre-open flexible window, finally to use a laser to remove the waste flexible window, then milled flexible parts shape will be more ideal, but not every kind of stack can use laser mode.

Additional Information

What is a Rigid Flex PCB?
Rigid Flex PCB Prototype
2 Layer Rigid Flex PCB
Rigid Flex Printed Circuits
Rigid Flex Printed Circuit Boards
Rigid Flex PCB Design Guidelines
Flexible and Flex-Rigid PCB Applications

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