Tackling the Challenges in Flex Assembly

Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007 | 07-06-2018

We recently released the inaugural issue of Flex007 Magazine, which is dedicated to flex system designers, electrical engineers, flex PCB designers, and anyone responsible for integrating flex into their products at the OEM/CEM level. (If you haven’t seen the first issue yet, which features some of the top flex experts sharing thoughts about flex, rigid-flex, and the flex market, click here.)

As my colleague and Flex007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy wrote, it was time to expand our Flex007 Weekly Newsletter into a magazine after seven years due to the increasing use of flex circuits in many electronics applications.

Indeed, the flex printed circuit market continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the PCB industry. According to a report by industry analysts Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global market for flexible printed circuits is expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.8% to reach a value of $38.27 billion by 2026, up from about $14.51 billion in 2017. Mainly driving this growth is the significant rise in the consumer electronics industry, led by the growing demand for smartphones, tablets, and LCD displays. Meanwhile, multilayer flex circuits are enjoying a greater demand among products in this sector, and this trend is projected to remain so over the next few years, according to TMR.

While we were planning the launch of Flex007, one of the flex experts we spoke with mentioned that apart from the design and manufacturing of flex printed circuits, a critical challenge that needs attention is assembly. Their flexible nature requires specific strategies for paste printing, chip mounting, soldering—whether reflow, wave, or hand—and rework/repair processes. Which is why, for the June 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, we investigate the many challenges in flex circuit assembly and highlight some of the strategies, techniques and best practices to help assemblers deal with flex circuit issues.

To read the full version of this article, which appeared in the June 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.