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A Short Guide for Array Panelizing- A Pre-Requisite to Assembling Rigid-Flex PCBs

 Dec 09, 2020

Rigid-Flex PCBs

The rigid-flex PCB assembly is a combination of rigid and flexible PCB assembly technologies. Generally, multiple layers of flexible substrate layers are assembled on the rigid assembly boards. Since it is the amalgamation of two PCB assembling techniques, it offers properties of both rigid and flexible PCBs. Owing to its properties, rigid-flex PCBs are used in a vast array of applications like cameras, pacemakers, handheld communication devices, electronic control modules, and many more. Also, it is considered as a-cost-effective PCB manufacturing solution, therefore, this type of PCB assembly is adopted by several PCB manufacturers. Assembling rigid-flex PCBs involves several steps, which are quite similar to rigid and flexible PCB manufacturing. Of these, array panelizing is the most important step and it requires in-depth consideration. This post discusses the considerations for array panelizing in the process of assembling rigid-flex PCBs and more.

Pre-Assembly Considerations of Rigid-Flex Array Panelizing

Array panelizing is essential because it addresses different design limitations of rigid-flex PCBs and helps in effectively configuring the components. This process involves several considerations of designing and assembling rigid-flex PCBs. Let us discuss different considerations of rigid-flex array panelizing that every rigid-flex PCB manufacturer must pay attention to.

  • Dimensions of the Assembly Array: The rigid-flex PCBs allow OEMs to achieve small PCB sizes without impacting design flexibility. Thus, the assembly array panel is kept smaller in rigid-flex PCBs as compared to rigid or flexible PCBs.
  • Component Shapes: The components or the parts assembled on rigid-flex PCBs are often convoluted in shapes. It helps in fulfilling the bend requirements of the board as well as place multiple components in rigid portions of the PCBs. The convoluted shapes of components allow effective utilization of the production panel as the components can be rotated, placed on corners, or intertwined.
  • Component Configurations: The design of rigid-flex PCBs require the maximum component placement at the rigid areas of the board. Assembling rigid-flex PCBs involves the use of stiffeners and pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs). Due to this, there may be limitations on the component configurations. To avoid errors, the components are configured on the adjacent rigidized-regions on the board. Although this adjacent placement helps minimize placement complexities, still, this process requires careful thought while assembling rigid-flex PCBs.

Along with these above-mentioned factors, the size of the production panel impacts the process of assembling rigid-flex PCBs. The sizes of production panel differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, however, common standardized sizes of production panels are 18ʺ x 24ʺ, 12ʺ x 18ʺ, and 9ʺ x 12ʺ.

Once all the above-mentioned factors are taken into consideration and panelizing is done, the further steps of assembling rigid-flex PCBs are followed. The design or panelizing process is then followed by solder paste stenciling, component mounting, and reflow soldering.

In order to perform rigid-flex array panelizing and PCB assembly, it is important that the manufacturers are well-versed with the technologies. Being a hybrid PCB assembly technique, rigid-flex PCB assembly is a complex method, therefore, you must partner with experts like Accelerated Assemblies in order to ensure quality and performance efficiencies. The company has been offering highly efficient PCB manufacturing services for several years. Their expertise allows them to perform any kind of PCB assembly with components footprints as low as 01005, leading to precise, and compact PCB manufacturing.