Moving to a rigid flex design from the traditional approach of using cable assemblies to join two or more PCB’s has obvious benefits including: the ability the fit into a smaller form factor, less weight, increased bandwidth and increased current carrying capabilities.
A common question that we are asked is how to compare the cost of a rigid-flex with the traditional approach. Typically, if you look only at the PCB cost, a rigid flex construction is going to be more expensive. But after reviewing the overall cost of the assembly, very often there is a cost savings.
The following list is not meant to be all-inclusive. Every application will be unique. Our hope is that this list helps facilitate the thought process when doing a comparison of the two technologies.
Things to think about when comparing the total cost of an assembly:
- You are merging multiple boards into 1 design
- Cost of cables and connectors
- Rigid PCB’s
- Wire Markers
- Shrink Tubing
- Cable Ties/ Fasteners
- Cost of the assembly operation. You can now run one assembly instead of 2 or 3
- Kitting for assembly
- In Process Inspection
- Cable Assembly Test
- On Board/ Final Test
- PCB Tooling/Test
- Misc. costs – engineering time, etc.
- Testing: Possibility of one test operation AND the ability to test the full assembly prior to installation
- The flex connector is now an integral part of the board
- No solder connections between boards
- Reliability comes from a good design
- Order Processing Costs
- Purchase order generation
- Incoming Inspection
- Material Handling/ Storage
As I mentioned, this list is far from complete and meant to trigger discussion on the costs of a total assembly. We are always here to help answer any questions or provide additional information on both cost comparisons and rigid flex design. Visit our website at www.omnipwb.com.