Flexible Circuits vs. Traditional Printed Circuits “Electrical Considerations”

Flexible Circuits vs. Traditional Printed Circuits “Electrical Considerations”

October 2, 2014 in Design Tips

Because of their position in the worldwide printed circuit market, flexible circuits are still a mystery to a lot of electronic product developers. Questions are brought up frequently about their electrical capabilities. Can a flexible circuit handle several amps of current? Can I use heavy copper on a flexible circuit? What about impedance control? Can it be done on a flexible circuit? These are questions that are not a concern to designers of traditional printed circuit boards because of their widespread use and decades of popularity.

Traditional “rigid” printed circuit boards have been widely used in the United States since the 1940s. They showed up in consumer products the next decade and have been produced in very large scales ever since. The electronics industry is full of experts on the design, manufacture, and assembly of printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Flexible circuits were introduced in a very limited way in the 1950s, but have not enjoyed the widespread use that its rigid cousin has. Although you will find flexible circuits in many consumer products today, including cellular telephones, laptop computers etc. they still make up only about 15% of the worldwide market for printed circuits. Reports for 2014 show, that the rigid printed circuits market worldwide will be about $65B, while the same reports for flexible circuits will be about $12B. For that reason, there aren’t as many experts on the design, manufacture, and assembly of flexible circuits as there are for traditional rigid printed circuits.

There’s good news! Flexible circuits and rigid printed circuits are manufactured in much the same way. The materials are different to be sure, but the main processes are similar. The same print and etch methods used for printed circuit boards are also used to manufacture flexible circuits. Both begin with full coverage of copper and the unwanted areas are etched away from the pattern that was designed on your CAD system. Both utilize plating to create through holes and vias that allow multiple conductive layers. A note of caution however, flexible circuits are much more tedious at high layer counts than their rigid equivalent. Both circuits have insulation layers albeit different materials and processes. The point is, when it comes to electrical considerations, you can count on flexible circuits as well as you count on printed circuit boards.

Let’s look at few examples of questions that are frequently asked.

  • Can a flexible circuit handle several amps of current?

Yes! The same “Current Carrying Capacities for Copper Traces” tables used for printed circuit boards are valid for flexible circuits also. Because the raw material, in this case copper, is used in both, the current carrying capacities are the same as well as the temperature rise above ambient. Flexible circuits can be manufactured with the same copper thicknesses available for PCBs. Typical thicknesses used are ½ oz, 1 oz, 2 oz etc.

 

  • Can I design and achieve impedance control on a flexible circuit?

Again, yes! The calculations are the same as for printed circuit boards with the exception of dielectric constant and material thicknesses. We still must concern ourselves with trace width and thickness, space between traces, distance between layers, and dielectric constant. Once those calculations are made and confirmed the flexible circuit performs as well as a rigid PCB.

 

  • Can I provide EMI shielding on a flexible circuit?

Yes! The same design methods used for a printed circuit board will work for a flexible circuit. Ground layers and loops may be used in the same manner to keep noise in or out of your sensitive areas.

 

When faced with the design of a flexible circuit and its electrical characteristics it’s best to consult with an experienced manufacturer. Remember though that the design in this respect will differ little from the expertise you already have as a printed circuit board designer.

Tramonto Circuits LLC Moves to a New Location

Tramonto Circuits LLC Moves to a New Location

March 2, 2014 in News

Tramonto Circuits LLC Moves to a New Location

 2013 Growth Increased Demand for Additional Space

Saint Paul, MN Mar. 1, 2014 – Tramonto Circuits LLC, moved its offices in October, 2013 from its previous location in Lake Elmo, MN to 14524 61st St Court in Stillwater, MN.  The move was necessary to accommodate growth over the last year, providing additional space for Tramonto Circuits production facilities, inventory and personnel.

 President and Owner, John Talbot, remarked “As a result of our customer’s needs, the production team has expanded their skills and capabilities which required us to add equipment, personnel and inventory. We’re excited about the growth and looking forward to the new services that we can provide our customers.”

The move to a larger facility for Tramonto Circuits is a result of the support and trust of their customers. The management team is dedicated to the continued high quality of service that our customer’s have grown accustomed to.

ABOUT Tramonto Circuits

The mission of Tramonto Circuits is “To consistently provide its customers with high quality electronic products and services that meet or exceed their expectations.” A manufacturer of flexible and rigid printed circuits, Tramonto Circuits provides electronic circuits and assemblies to Original Equipment Manufacturers worldwide.

Tramonto Circuits is based in St. Paul, Minnesota. More information is available at www.tramontocircuits.com or join us on Facebook.

Tramonto Circuits names John Talbot as President

Tramonto Circuits names John Talbot as President

January 6, 2014 in Press Release

Tramonto Circuits LLC

 MEDIA ADVISORY

 January 6, 2014

For immediate release

Tramonto Circuits Names New Executive Position

New Position Reflects Changes to Executive Team

ST. PAUL –  Tramonto Circuits is pleased to announce the appointment of an executive position: John Talbot as President and Owner.  His appointment comes after five years of service, leadership and dedication to Tramonto Circuits and its customers.

John came to Tramonto Circuits in January 2009 with extensive and broad industry experience in the U.S. and China marketplace. He is a well known and respected part of the industry and brought experience in both the flexible and rigid printed circuit worlds. Prior to coming to Tramonto Circuits, Mr. Talbot served as Director of Sales & Engineering at Flexible Circuit Technologies and as an Inside Sales Engineer at All Flex Inc. He also has experience in product development, test and regulatory compliance for electronic products for the consumer and B2B industries. In his role as President, Mr. Talbot will focus on developing and implementing plans to improve the business nationwide and worldwide.

John has led the company during a tumultuous time in the U.S. economy and has produced growth each year during his tenure here. The changes that he was directly responsible for have shown foresight and innovation. This new commitment proves his vision for the company is positive and we’re proud to have Tramonto Circuits in his capable hands.

“Tramonto Circuits has a committed and talented staff that I’ve had the pleasure of working with for five years. I’m honored to lead such a great group of people and am confident that with their continued support, Tramonto Circuits will continue to grow and prosper.” John Talbot President & Owner.

ABOUT Tramonto Circuits
The mission of Tramonto Circuits is “To consistently provide its customers with high quality electronic products and services that meet or exceed their expectations.” A manufacturer of flexible and rigid printed circuits, Tramonto Circuits provides electronic circuits and assemblies to Original Equipment Manufacturers worldwide.

Tramonto Circuits is based in St. Paul, Minnesota. More information is available at www.tramontocircuits.com.

Flexible Circuit Design Tips: Flex Circuits vs. Traditional PCBs

Flexible Circuit Design Tips: Flex Circuits vs. Traditional PCBs

June 20, 2013 in Design Tips

Flex Circuit design vs. PCB

Flexible circuits still only account for about 15% of the overall printed circuit market. So it’s understandable that there are still questions about flexible circuit design vs. traditional printed circuit board (PCB) design. PCBs have been in existence since the early 1960s and there are many experienced PCB designers working confidently around the world. However we frequently are queried about the nuances in design for flex.

Designers are warned by management, project engineers etc… That flexible circuit design is different and are asked to consult with the fabricator or in some cases simply want to offload the design responsibilities to the supplier.

It’s not that difficult and adding this knowledge to your experience tool box isn’t as daunting a task as it may seem. (more…)

Tramonto Circuits Now Supplies Printed Circuits Boards

Tramonto Circuits Now Supplies Printed Circuits Boards

April 12, 2013 in Press Release

Tramonto Circuits, a worldwide provider of flexible and rigid printed circuit boards, has made a commitment in 2013 to increase the printed circuit board portion of their business.

Tramonto Circuits was founded in 2008. The core business was the manufacture of flexible circuits and value added assembly of those flexible circuits. The company’s revenues grew very well with the focus held steadily on the flexible circuit portion of the market which comprises about 15% of the overall printed circuit industry. That categorized Tramonto Circuits as a niche company and their reputation throughout the U.S. and worldwide is that of a flexible circuit manufacturer.

Read the full press release

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