Ultrasound probe 2 layer soft board
Name:Ultrasonic probe soft board
Number of layers: 2L Flexible PCB
Board thickness: 0.09mm
Copper thickness: 6um±1um
Minimum aperture: 50um
Surface treatment: electroplating soft gold
Features: ultra-thin copper, micro-holes, appearance of zero defects FPC
Flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) allow circuitry to bend and flex to accommodate different shapes and motions. A 2 layer flex PCB contains a single flexible dielectric layer sandwiched between 2 conductive copper layers.
Compared to rigid boards, flexible PCBs require some unique design considerations regarding the materials used, layout techniques, manufacturability and reliability. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to design a 2 layer flexible PCB covering the key aspects to consider.
Design Process Overview
The typical workflow for designing a 2 layer flex PCB is:
- Define circuit requirements and interfaces
- Select flexible material stackup
- Create circuit schematic
- Plan layout and component placement
- Route traces and vias
- Specify flexible outline and bend areas
- Add text callouts and markings
- Review design rules and margins
- Verify electrical constraints
- Export Gerber and CAD files
The main materials used in a 2 layer flex PCB include:
The most common flexible dielectric material is polyimide (PI). It provides excellent flexibility along with thermal and chemical resistance. Typical thickness is 25μm to 100μm. Other polymers like PEEK, PET, PC etc. are also used.
Rolled annealed copper with 18μm to 35μm thickness allows flexibility while carrying required current.
Acrylic or epoxy adhesive bonds the copper foil to the dielectric. Should withstand flexing.
For a 2 layer flex PCB:
- Core: 25μm-100μm flex dielectric film
- Layer 1: 18μm-35μm rolled copper foil
- Layer 2: 18μm-35μm rolled copper foil
- Coverlay: 25μm-50μm polyimide or acrylic
Using thinner cores allows smaller bend radii but requires narrower trace/space. Thicker copper improves current capacity but reduces flexibility.
A schematic defines the circuit connectivity. Considerations for flex:
- Show all interfaces like connectors
- Define component placements
- Call out any rigid sections
- Note high speed signals
- Mark all testpoints
Key aspects for 2 layer flex PCB layout:
Only low profile surface mount devices should be used. Place components in the rigid areas only. Avoid placing parts across bends. Distribute components evenly to balance stresses.
Use 45° angle traces instead of 90° turns. Avoid traces crossing bend perforations. Leave extra trace length for flexing movement. Run critical traces on inner layers.
Allow cutouts for connectors, buttons and other mechanical parts to be mounted.
Define by outlines/perforations where the board will bend. Allow sufficient bend radius. Consider stresses when routing across bends.
Add stiffeners made of rigid sections or covers near narrow flexible segments for support.
Include testpoints to access key nets for debugging.
Critical Design Rules
Key design criteria for 2 layer flex PCBs:
- Minimum Bend Radius: Inside bend radius should exceed minimum specified for materials to prevent cracking
- Minimum Trace Width: Thinner traces allow tighter bends but handle less current
- Minimum Spacing: Adequate spacing prevents shorts and crosstalk
- Annular Rings: Sufficient pad clearance from thru-hole walls to avoid opens
- Testpoint Size: Must allow safe probing access
- Via Tenting: All vias should be fully capped/tented for protection
Manufacturing and Assembly
Fabricating and assembling flex PCBs involves:
- Imaging: Photolithography transfers the layout onto copper layers.
- Etching: Removes unwanted copper to form traces.
- Die Cutting: Cuts board outline and bend perforations.
- Coverlay Lamination: Bonds protective coverlay onto circuits.
- Solder Mask: LPI solder mask applied for additional insulation.
- Route/Fold: Boards are routed apart and folded along bends if needed.
- Component Mounting: Parts assembled only on rigid sections using adhesive or fixing points.
- Debugging: Provides testpoints for easy probing access.
- Conformal Coating: Optional coating increases reliability.
Prior to release for fabrication, the flex PCB layout must be thoroughly verified:
- Confirm minimum electrical clearances
- Check trace widths can carry required current
- Verify impedance of high speed traces
- Validate bend radii exceed minimum material and manufacturing capabilities
- Review component placement near bends and edges
- Confirm all design rules and margins
- Test board flexibility and dynamic durability through prototyping
Designing reliable 2 layer flexible PCBs requires understanding the materials, layout techniques, manufacturability limitations and reliability factors involved. With the growing use of flex circuits in consumer and industrial products, rigid-flex PCBs and 3D packaging, understanding robust flexible PCB design principles is becoming imperative for engineers. The guidelines provided in this article can serve as a starting framework when developing a 2 layer flexible PCB design to achieve a board that successfully meets the functional, mechanical and quality needs of the application.
What are some typical applications of 2 layer flex PCBs?
What design software is used for flex PCBs?
Can surface mount components be assembled on the flex section?
It is not recommended since soldering stresses can crack the thin flex laminate and traces. Components should only be assembled on rigid sections.
What thickness of polyimide is typically used as the flexible dielectric?
12 micron to 50 micron polyimide films are commonly used. Thinner material allows smaller bend radius but requires narrower trace/space.
What are some key tests performed to qualify flex PCB durability?
Flex PCBs are dynamically tested for bend cycles, torsion, flexion, twist, vibration, shock, temperature cycling and bend radius verification.