About Flexible Circuits

How much can I bend a flex circuit?

IPC 6013 states that a polyimide circuit can be bent up to a radius of 10 times the overall thickness of the material stack-up. However, please talk to PFC when designing your flex. Because of the multitude of available material choices and acquired design techniques, there maybe an opportunity to meet your bend requirements. Learn more about bend radius.

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What are flexible circuits?

Flexible circuits consist of conductive strips of metal, usually copper, encapsulated with an insulating dielectric material that allows the circuit to bend, resists moisture and contamination, is resilient to high temperatures and is an excellent insulator. Learn more about flexible circuits and their application.

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What is the maximum temperature a flex circuit can operate at?

A flex circuit can operate at 125° C for extended periods with DuPont coverlays and adhesives. Using Espanex coverlays and adhesiveless materials a flex circuit can withstand extended periods of 170° C.

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About PFC

Can PFC participate in ITAR projects?

PFC is currently participating in ITAR projects and is qualified to do so even though PFC is a Canadian company. The ITAR regulations generally prohibit the export of ITAR-controlled goods and technical data outside of the US without an export license. Section 126.5 (c) of the ITAR (Canadian Exemption) provides an exemption for the export of technical data to Canada as necessary for the performance of certain “defense services”. Download more details on PFC and ITAR and our Nondisclosure Agreement.

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What are the relevant IPC specifications for flex circuits?

The relevant IPC standard for building and inspecting of Flex circuits and rigid flex is IPC-6013. Please see our Quality and Specifications  page for other data regarding specifications critical to flex circuits.

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Why should I choose PFC for my flex design?

PFC designs, manufactures, and assembles flexible printed circuits and rigid flex all under one roof!

  • The PFC engineering and manufacturing team has 160 years of cumultive experience specific to the flex circuit industry.
  • PFC spends an average of 10 hours evaluating a customer’s flex CAD layout, materials, bend radius, plating, etc. with the goal of making your circuits right the first time.
  • PFC is shipping millions of parts per year with a 99% quality percentage.
  • 80% of PFC’s circuits are shipped assembled.
  • PFC’s employee turnover rate is less than 1% in over 17 years.
  • PFC continues to invest in technology with the goal of staying ahead of the technology curve required in the industry.
  • PFC produces circuits with 50 micron line and space every day and is working on prototypes at 37.5 micron line and space.
  • PFC can produce up to 16 rigid flex layers.

Please see Why choose PFC for more information.

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Pricing / Charges

What are the tooling charges for a flex circuit?

Non-recurring engineering (NRE) refers to the one-time cost to research, develop, design and test a new product. Manufacturing flex circuits, rigid flex and flex assemblies involves the development of different types of items that will require a one-time charge. In general there are 3 categories of tooling for manufacturing a flex circuit: photo tool, outline die and electrical test. On your initial quotation from PFC, you will see NRE charges. Learn more about flex circuit tooling

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Requesting a Quote

What does PFC need to provide a quote?

PFC prefers to have a gerber file and a drawing with critical dimensions. If the flex is to be assembled, PFC will need a bill of materials, approved vendors and an assembly drawing. Please see the PFC quote request checklist for more details.

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What is PFC’s preferred data format for submitting files?

AutoCad .dwg,(DXF)
Gerber (RS274X)
ODB++
3D Viewer (*STP File)

Please see file formats on our quotation checklist.

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Services

Can PFC provide conformal coating?

Yes. PFC has invested in robotic equipment to provide conformal coating.

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Does PFC accept consigned materials for flex assembly?

Yes, we do. In order for PFC to manufacture an assembly, we require particular items. Learn more about our consigned material requirements.

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Technical and Design

Can a flex circuit be UL approved?

In most cases the circuit itself is not specifically approved. What is approved by UL is the material stack-ups and adhesives. Since its inception, PFC has been submitting material stack-ups to UL and has a list of approved constructions. Learn more about UL constructions.

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Can PFC provide HDI technology?

Yes. PFC can provide 50 micron lines and space and as small as 50 micron holes. Please visit HDI technology.

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Can you place SMT components on a flex circuit?

Yes. You can place surface mount components on a flex circuit, similar to a printed circuit board. Please see our assembly page.

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Can you shield a flex?

Yes. Flex circuits can be shielded using various methods; including but not limited to additional copper layers, silver paste, and by using additional shielding materials. Consult PFC for questions you may have regarding shielding. Costs vary on what shielding solution is chosen. Learn more about shielding.

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Can you wire bond to a flex?

Yes. PFC has many customers currently wire bonding to a flex. Consult PFC regarding your design requirements.

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Has PFC designed and manufactured circuits with impedance control?

Yes. PFC has designed many circuits that are high speed designs and require impedance control. Please visit our page on impedance control.

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How much can I bend a flex circuit?

IPC 6013 states that a polyimide circuit can be bent up to a radius of 10 times the overall thickness of the material stack-up. However, please talk to PFC when designing your flex. Because of the multitude of available material choices and acquired design techniques, there maybe an opportunity to meet your bend requirements. Learn more about bend radius.

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What are power application considerations for designing for high current?

Flex circuits are regularly used in high current/power applications. Some application examples of designs produced at PFC include bus bars, backplanes, and power distribution cables. Most of the high current applications PFC develops are to replace wire harnesses. Learn more about high current flex circuit designs.

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What are some of the critical design rules for ZIF interfaces ( Zero Insertion Force)?

Many flex circuit applications have a ZIF interface. Please visit  ZIF Designs on our web site.

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What is a typical aspect ratio for a flex circuit design?

The aspect ratio for a flex circuit depends on the number of circuit layers, materials used and  whether the vias are blind or buried. Please contact PFC to discuss your design.

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What is REACH?

REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use. It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances (REACH). Learn more about REACH and PFC compliance.

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What is RoHS?

RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) is the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. RoHS is often referred to as the lead-free directive, but RoHS restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. Learn more about RoHS and PFC compliance.

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What is the maximum temperature a flex circuit can operate at?

A flex circuit can operate at 125° C for extended periods with DuPont coverlays and adhesives. Using Espanex coverlays and adhesiveless materials a flex circuit can withstand extended periods of 170° C.

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What materials can you use as a flex stiffener?

Standard stiffener material offered is FR4 (PCB material). Other options are aluminum, steel, ceramics, and polyimide. There are many variations of stiffeners and different reasons for creating a stiffened area. Consult PFC for the most cost effective solution. Learn more about flex circuit materials.

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