Flex PCB Design
by NWES

We provide PCB design and layout services for flex and rigid-flex PCBs targeting harsh environments and small form factors. We target applications as diverse as consumer electronics and high-reliability hardware for defense, aerospace, and automotive. We also help clients scale into production through our network of manufacturing partners.

We're passionate about advanced technology. We work with innovative companies to design and build high-reliability products that push the limits of flex and rigid-flex PCB design. Whether you're a small startup with a great idea or a large enterprise, we'll take your design from idea to full-scale manufacturing. We look forward to working with you!


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Flex & Rigid-Flex PCB Design Capabilities


We Build Advanced Flex Products

High-reliability electronics often rely on flex or rigid-flex PCB assemblies to withstand harsh environments and hit form factor targets. These designs can be challenging in modern desing approaches, but our expertise will guide you to success.

  • Rigid-flex modules with built-in flex interconnects and connectors
  • Flex interconnects for high-power systems in tight enclosures
  • Flex assemblies with RF and high-speed digital functionality
  • Applications in aerospace, military-grade hardware, and automotive
  • Component packaging on commercial polyimide materials


Atlium Designer

Cadence

Ansys

Simberian




Success in Flex PCB Design


Engineers who start working with flex designs will quickly find that some of the basic design rules and assembly constraints differ significantly from the constraints in rigid PCBs. Add in the material selection and layer buildup requirements, and flex designs require a unique approach to material selection, component placement, and PCB layout.

  • Materials selection - Flex PCB stackup rules can be quite different from rigid stackups, but the range of mixing of flex and rigid materials (including RF/PTFE materials) offers much more freedom to design an advanced stackup. Selection of flex materials and rigid materials supports system architecture and interconnect design, including for RF/high-speed PCBs.

  • Flex interconnect design - Many advanced flex PCB designs incorporate a high-speed channel or even an RF element into the PCB operating up to several GHz. Flex PCB interconnects demand hatched ground and transmission line sizing to match material constraints and ensure low return/insertion loss along an interconnect.

  • Mechanical design - Most flex boards are selected because there is a mechanical constraint in the enclosure or the assembly. Part of floorplanning a flex/rigid-flex PCB is ensuring the flex design will fit into an enclosure with the required form factor. This includes placement of mechanical elements to make connections to other parts of a system.

  • Flex DFM/DFA - Flex designs are also selected for their reliability in high mechanical and thermal stress situations, but DFM/DFA guidelines for flex PCBs must be followed. During and after placement/routing, a full DFM & DFA review is needed to assess reliability and yield before production.


Get Started




Flex PCB Materials and Stackups


Building flex PCB stackups involves a different set of manufacturing requirements and design considerations compared to rigid PCBs. As shown in the typical example below, flex boards can also incorporate rigid glass + epoxy sections, forming rigid-flex assemblies.


Commercially available flex PCB materials and their important materials properties are outlined in the table below. These materials are applicable for most applications involving power, data, or wireless.

Material Type Primary Usage Material Data
Kapton (Adhesiveless) Common substrate for flex PCBs • Dielectric constant: 3.4
• Loss tangent: 0.003
• Tensile strength: ~50 kpsi
• CTE (ppm/K): 20
• Hygroscopicity (ASTM D570): 0.8%
Kapton (Adhesive-coated) Used as bonding or coverlay layer • Dielectric constant: 3.4
• Loss tangent: 0.01
• Tensile strength: ~25 kpsi
• CTE (ppm/K): 20
• Hygroscopicity (ASTM D570): 3.0%
Mylar (Adhesiveless) Substitute for adhesiveless Kapton • Dielectric constant: 3.0
• Loss tangent: 0.018
• Tensile strength: ~30 kpsi
• • CTE (ppm/K): 27
• Hygroscopicity (ASTM D570): 0.8%



Flex PCB Application Areas

Our flex PCB clients demand high reliability with ambitious form factor, and our expertise helps our clients achieve their goals. Some of the application areas where we operate include:

  • Aggressive form factor boards with digital and RF features
  • Power and data interconnects for military equipment
  • Unique applications in imaging, wearables, and embedded
  • Packaging for custom SoCs/SiPs/ASICs

Our goal is to successfully transition you from concept to product with a fully manufacturable design that can be produced anywhere. Our network of manufacturing partners can help you produce RF systems at scale while staying compliant, sourcing efficiently, and ensuring high yield.



Our Flex PCB Design Process

Our goal is to streamline the innovation process for advanced flex & rigid-flex electronics and help clients scale to volume production.
  • Contact us for a consultation and quote.

  • Schematic capture begins and the mechanical constraints on flex assemblies are determined. Contact with a fabrication house begins and a stackup is designed during this phase.

  • Specialized interconnects are designed and important elements are locked in place to ensure mechanical constraints are satisfied.

  • Remaining components are placed, checked in MCAD, and routed as we complete the PCB layout.

  • We perform a final DFM/DFA check and mechanical backcheck to ensure form factor needs are met and the manufactured design will be reliable before creating a PCB manufacturing files package.


How We Work

Why Work With NWES?


  • Broad expertise - We're a digitally-driven remote-first organization with diverse talent and experience. We know your technology because we've used it and built it.

  • Manufacturing partners - We work with local and overseas CMs and EMS providers that are ISO-9001, AS9100, ISO-13485, IPC-A-610, NADCAP, and/or ITAR/JCP certified. We help you find the best option to produce prototypes and scale to volume production.

  • Supply chain management - We take a proactive approach on projects to ensure your design can be produced at the required volume. We'll manage procurement from major distributors or brokers throughout your project.


Get Started


Need a hand with a current or future PCB design project? Find out the difference our experts can make.


Contact us today for more information.


    

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Ready to work with NWES?
Contact us today for a consultation.

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