Rigid Flex – How to compare cost to traditional PCB’s

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
    • Connectors
    • Wire/Cable
    • Wire Markers
    • Shrink Tubing
    • Cable Ties/ Fasteners
    • Freight

 

  • Cost of the assembly operation.  You can now run one assembly instead of 2 or 3
    • Kitting for assembly
    • Labor
    • 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

 

  • Reliability
    • 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
    • Receiving
    • 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.

 

 

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