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Stretchable electronics / Flexible Conductors


Flexible Circuits / Circuit Boards

http://cmst.be/projects/img9.jpg
It's like Gumby for electrons


Recently, I've come across quite the odd finding, and because I'm in electrical engineering it's probably even more far-fetched sounding to me than it is to you. Flexible circuits are now just starting to be utilized and they seem to be pretty promising.

 You see instead of PCB they're called FCB. From Printed Circuit Board ---> Flexible Circuit Board. These circuits are made with photo-lithographic technology on top of transparent conductive polyester film. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that's not the only material that they'll be using for FPC.

There are many structures to Flexible Circuits; Single-Sided Flex, Double Access ( Back bared Flex ), Sculptured Flex, Double - Sided Flex, Multilayer Flex, Rigid Flex, Polymer thick Film flex. The possibilities are endless although if I'm honest with you the irony of naming on of the structures rigid flex is not lost on me. That's like saying "I want a... soft... hammer". Why?
http://info.taiwantrade.com.tw/EP/resources/member/15386/productcatalog/f22b8771-6fb4-4193-bdf1-6dac42c7a5f2_B+R-All.JPG
Well... here you go














Now flexible circuits / conductors would not be a hard item to come up with applications for. In a world were our electronics are getting smaller, it's obvious that this could aid in that aspect of our needs. Here's a pretty tame video of a flexible circuit:





So the first thing you notice is the material that the circuit is on is not a PCB, it's a Flexible Circuit Board. Okay, Great. The next thing you might notice is that there's a dime for scale which is hilarious and amazing. If we can get our flexible circuits down to levels which we can apply them on a nano scale we can then use them for biological devices.

Some other applications include
  • Keyboards
  • Organic light-emitting diodes
  • Moving head on printer
  • Solar Cells

The only problems I could foresee is Power. Now that's a very broad term so let me break it down for you, In electronics we can calculate the power (Also more commonly known as the wattage) of a passive circuit element with a manipulation of Ohm's law it would be something to the likes of Voltage squared over Resistance. Wattage/Power also generate heat, and at this point you're saying "Well what's the big deal". So, on a printed circuit board it wasn't too much of a problem because the circuit was printed on that board pretty damn well and heat wasn't too big of a factor on passive circuit elements. But on a flexible circuit board the adhesive has to be an MVP of sorts in order to keep that circuit on there through the high temperature output. Furthermore the circuit would have to NOT MELT.

Check some facts out right here ---> Click Me!

There's a video on YouTube of a man who has had some success actually fabricating some of these circuits himself. The material of course is not as good as others but it's still fascinating.





Thanks for reading! Have a technological day.

~Ritter