Thanks to the remarkable advantages offered by a flexible LED PCB such as tiny volume, light weight, and agile structure, this technology has been rapidly developed and widely used. With the rising and flourishing of electronic products on the market, the demand for flexible LED PCBs has also grown exponentially. It results in a wide range of applications of flexible LED PCB, such as consumer electronics, medical devices, aerospace and military sectors. In recent years, flexible PCB has also become the hot spot of the LED lighting industry. By reading through the whole article, you will gain a deeper insight into flexible LED PCBs in terms of their definition, types, benefits as well as applications.
Flexible LED PCB Defined
Flexible PCBs are also known as flex circuits, flex circuit boards and flexible printed circuit boards, or FPC for short. A flexible LED PCB features the arrangement of multiple patterned printed circuits and LED components using flexible base material, with or without flexible cover layers. It consists of an insulating polymer film to which conductive circuit patterns are attached. And the manufacturer typically utilizes a thin polymer coating to protect the conductive circuits.
Flexible LED printed circuit boards can be fabricated using the same components as rigid LED printed circuit boards. However, the flexible LED printed board can bend into the desired shape during its practical use. The advent of flexible circuit technology originally derives from space rocket technology, however, it has been an important interconnection technology for electronics manufacturing since the 1950s.
Common Types of Flexible LED PCB
Given below are a few common types of flexible LED PCB boards applicable for industries across the board. Depending on the customer’s requirements, the fabrication of electronic devices can combine using two or more types of flexible circuit boards.
Single-sided flexible LED PCB
This is the most basic type of flexible LED PCB on the market. It consists of a single layer of the flexible dielectric film with a thin layer of copper printed on one side of the circuit board. It is also the most affordable type of flexible LED PCB, and it contains only one layer, making it easier to fabricate than other types of flexible LED PCBs. Thanks to their cost-effectiveness and ease of assembly, single-sided flexible LED PCBs are ideal for dynamic applications or devices that require highly flexible circuits.
Double-sided flexible LED PCB
Double-sided flexible LED PCBs are the extension of single-sided flexible LED PCBs that contain copper conductive layers printed on both sides of the PCB board. Typically, the copper layers rely on Plate Through Holes (PTH) or vias for interconnection. Compared to single-sided flexible LED PCBs, they have enhanced power and higher circuit density, yet at a higher cost. They are one of the most popular types of flexible LED PCBs for the benefits they offer such as light weight, reproducibility and ease of manufacturing.
Multi-Layer Flexible LED PCB
As the name suggests, multi-layer flexible LED PCBs feature three or more layers of copper conductors. It combines multiple single-sided and double-sided flexible PCBs together. The manufacturer often interconnect these layers by PTH mounting, surface mounted or shielding technologies. Multi-layer flexible LED PCBs tend to cost higher than other types of flexible LED PCBs due to the complexity of their construction. Multi-layer designs are ideal for PCB fabrication that requires high-density connectors, as well as aerospace and military applications.
Rigid-flex LED PCB
Rigid-flex LED circuits are a hybrid between standard rigid and flexible circuits. These circuits typically incorporate a rigid circuit board and components that connect multiple layers of flexible circuits together. The manufacturer usually deploys PHT assembly technology to integrate the flexible layers and the rigid layers. Thanks to their reliability, strength and flexibility, they are often applied in consumer electronics such as laptops, computers and other smart devices, as well as in the military sector.
Benefits of Flexible LED PCB
Due to the beneficial features they offer, flexible LED PCBs have gained immense popularity among a variety of industries. Here is a list of a few benefits of them.
Reduced package size and weight
Thanks to their thinness, light weight, tiny volume, and easy to crease and fold, flexible LED PCBs can fit in places where other types of PCBs cannot. Flexible LED PCBs are so popular given the fact that replacing rigid circuits with flexible ones can reduce space by nearly 30% and weight by up to 70%. At MOKOLight, our professionals typically utilize 3D packaging technology to further reduce package size.
Flexible LED PCBs offer designers immense flexibility because they can be designed in various types, including single-sided with a single access, single-sided with double access, and multi-layer rigid-flex circuits. Unlike rigid boards that are limited to two dimensions, they are perfect for complex configurations with three-dimensional interconnections. Additionally, flexible LED circuit boards allow both plated through-hole and surface mounted components to be affixed to them.
The installation of flexible LED PCBs is very flexible and they can connect with two or more planes. This helps deal with the weight and space issues that rigid LED circuits are faced up with. During the execution, flexible LED circuits can be easily flexed or twisted to different levels without any failure.
Reliability and durability
Interconnections were the main cause of earlier circuit board failure. Flexible LED PCBs are free from electronic failure since they can be flexed and moved at unlimited times. Flexible circuit designs can reduce the number of interconnection points, thereby improving the resistance to shock and vibration as well as the reliability of these circuits. In addition, the material selection of polyimide helps to improve the thermal stability of the circuit boards.
The assembly process of flexible LED circuit boards is relatively simple, which helps to save the overall assembly costs. The manufacturing of flexible LED PCBs is largely done by automated machinery, involving less manual labor, thereby reducing assembly errors such as hand wiring. In addition, due to their small volume, light weight and durability, flexible LED PCBs also help reduce material and packaging costs as well as maintenance and replacement costs.
High heat dissipation
The compact designs of flexible LED PCBs result in shorter thermal paths, so they dissipate heat more quickly than rigid circuit boards. Thanks to the streamlined design, flexible LED circuits keep the boards cool by improving airflow. Additionally, the thin polyimide dielectric material can withstand very high temperatures, making it ideal for high power and high frequency applications.
Suitable for high temperature & high density applications
Flexible LED PCBs are suitable for devices that require high density circuits since they consist of thin flex layers and small components. In addition, polymer materials such as polyimide can withstand extreme temperatures between -200°C and 400°C, making them well suited for applications in harsh environments.
Why Not Make All LED Circuit Boards Flexible?
Though Flexible LED circuit boards are very useful, they will not completely replace rigid circuit boards in all applications. Cost-effectiveness is a major concern when it comes to exclusive flexible LED circuit board designs. Compared to flexible LED circuits, rigid circuits offer the advantage of cost savings in terms of high-volume manufacturing and installation.
In order to reduce manufacturing and assembly costs, most manufacturers typically utilize solid, reliable rigid LED PCBs, and use flexible circuits as necessary. Certainly, hybrid rigid-flex LED circuit boards are also an ideal solution for innovative products, and they are commonly found in laptops and medical devices. MOKOLight is a premier manufacturer who provides both flexible and rigid LED circuit boards for client companies to serve your needs at best.
Applications of Flexible LED PCB
Flexible circuitry technology is the most common technology employed by many device manufacturers today. Due to the numerous benefits they offer, flexible LED circuit boards are extensively used in the electrical and electronics industries. Some of the most prominent applications include:
Flexible LED PCB in automotive electronics
Flexible LED circuit boards are used in the electronic components of most modern automobiles, such as anti-lock brake systems, airbag controllers, instrument panels and dash systems. They can fit into small or irregularly shaped spaces, which gives engineers tremendous flexibility. Plus, flexible LED circuit boards can withstand extreme temperatures and experience intense vibrations without any fear of failure.
Flexible LED PCB in aerospace components
Due to their outstanding ability to bear extreme temperatures and vibrations, flexible LED PCBs are ideal for aerospace applications such as holographic waveguide helmet-mounted displays and satellites. Also, they are used to substitute connectors that may lead to failure. They can be flexed or folded unlimited times, accommodating them to the unusual shapes of spacecraft.
Flexible LED PCB in computer electronics
Most computer components rely on flexible LED circuit boards to operate and fit into smaller spaces. If the computer runs for an extended period of time, it is prone to overheating, so the circuit board is required to have the characteristics of resistance to high temperatures and durability. You can also find flexible LED circuit boards in other consumer electronics such as televisions, printers, gaming systems, smart devices, etc.
Flexible LED PCB in smartphones
Flexible LED circuit boards are perfect candidates for smartphone applications. Inside the small smartphone, a number of flexible LED PCBs responsible for carrying and connecting the core components are required. Unlike conventional circuit boards, flexible LED circuit boards can fit into tight spaces and withstand extreme temperatures and environments. Thanks to the role of flexible LED circuit boards, some smartphones can even be designed to be foldable and waterproof.
Flexible LED PCB in medical devices
Flexible LED PCBs can fit in medical appliances that have small volumes and require high precision, such as swallowable pill cameras, pacemakers, hearing aids, gastroscopies, heart monitors, etc. They are extensively used in these mid-to-high-end devices due to their small size, foldability, great durability, and strong wear resistance.
MOKOLight: A Leading Flexible LED PCB Manufacturer for over 15 Years
Flexible LED PCBs are widely used because of their flexibility and adaptability, which caters to the ever growing demands of the electronics industry. At MOKOLight, we specialize in the assembly and fabrication of flexible LED PCBs serving for various industries including LED lighting, medical, telecommunications, automotive, industrial, etc. Our advanced manufacturing facilities and vast experience assure us to provide top-quality flexible LED PCB boards that fit your budget and specifications with fast turnaround times. No matter what type of flexible LED circuit boards you are looking for, we can provide you with professional guidance to help you bring your concept into reality. So what are you hesitating about? Contact our experts today to get free flexible LED PCB prototyping as soon as possible.