It can be done, but there’s always a learning curve.

Read more: Over-Molding Plastic over Flex Circuits

Nick KoopDrilling disparate materials can lead to an assortment of problems.

In our last installment, Mark Finstad talked about some of the things that can go wrong in the manufacturing process. Learning near the end of the process of a problem that will impact delivery can be frustrating.

Once all the layers are laminated together, some risks still remain that need to be managed. For example …

Poor hole quality. Rigid-flex constructions bring an extra challenge to the drilling process. Beyond alignment issues caused by differential dimensional stability, it can be more difficult to create a cleanly drilled hole. To make a reliable plated through-hole, the hole must be cut cleanly through the material and prepared properly prior to plating. Since the rigid-flex stackup blends a variety of materials, it is possible to have drilling flaws such as excessive nailheading of the copper, dielectric smear over copper surfaces in the hole wall, and material tear out. Consider the differences of drilling a sheet of steel versus drilling through plexiglass. Cutting steel creates clean metal chips, while cutting plexiglass often looks like the material was melted rather than drilled. Drilling rigid-flex involves cutting materials that are very different in terms of hardness. If not done properly, the result can be holes of such poor quality that plating will not be successful.

Read more: The Nature of Processing Rigid-Flex, Part 2

Ultra-thin material plus dimensional instability: What could possibly go wrong?

Read more: The Nature of Processing Rigid-Flex
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