What You Should Know About Flex and Rigid Flex Circuit Board Manufacturing

Written by Rush PCB Inc on . Posted in PCB, PCB Manufacturing

Rush PCB Inc. makes different types of flex and rigid flex PCBs starting from single sided to double sided, and multi-layered. These boards are special in the sense they can be bent either once, such as when they are being installed in a miniature camera, or bent multiple times such as when attached to the head of an inkjet printer.

Flex and rigid flex circuit board manufacturing has a fundamental difference from conventional PCBs in their use of basic material—this does not contain any glass reinforcement. Flexible circuits usually make use of various grades of Polyimide as their core or base dielectric. The Polyimide serves to provide both flexibility and mechanical integrity. On this Polyimide dielectric, a copper clad is bonded with a layer of adhesive called bondply (as against the conventional prepreg). After etching, this copper layer of traces is covered with a coverlay (similar to the conventional soldermask).

Flex and Rigid Flex Circuit Board Manufacturing


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Circuit board manufacturers of flex and rigid flex start with the Polyimide base dielectric layer. Rush PCB Inc. uses Polyimides of various thicknesses from 12 µm to 125 µm, depending on the requirement. On this, they bond a rolled-annealed copper foil that can vary in thickness from 9 µm to 70 µm. Manufacturers use thermo-bond adhesives to bond the copper foil to the Polyimide base. These adhesives may include acrylic, phenolic butyral, and modified epoxy.

Panel Preparation

Fabricators first check the copper surface for imperfections such as dents and pits to ensure it meets the procurement standards. Usually, the manufacturer then bonds the copper sheets on to one or both sides of the Polyimide base using the adhesive in between. Application of heat and pressure in a lamination process makes the adhesive flow and bonds the copper foil to the Polyimide base.

As all the materials used are flexible in nature, handling techniques are crucial for the successful processing of flex circuits. Manufacturers modify their techniques and equipment adequately to support the thin laminates.

The fabricator then cuts down the full size sheets to usable panel sizes using shearing machines. Companies also use a standard fabrication panel size that fits optimally on all their production machines. Further processing of the panels begins with a baking process, which uses controlled heating for a defined period and a slow cooling process to remove moisture and helps to balance any internal stresses evenly.


This stage begins by placing the panel between phenolic fiberboards to support it. Two or more registration holes along the edges of the panel serve to line up all the various features of the panel, including the drilled holes and the conductive pattern. The registration holes will also help in all stages of fabrication to align the panel on all the production machines at each step of the manufacturing process.

The registration holes help to align the panel on a numerically controlled drilling machine. The NC drill file supplied by the customer serves to program the drilling machine and to control the several heads with their corresponding tooling pins. The computer in the drilling machine moves the table to the proper location in both the x and y directions. The drilling head then picks the appropriate drill bit and creates holes in their programmed locations.

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Through-Hole Plating

At this stage of circuit board manufacturing, the fabricator chemically deposits a very thin layer of electroless copper over the entire surface of the panel including on the inside of the holes. With the holes thus metalized, an electrical connection forms from one side of the flexible circuit to the other.

Imaging and Developing

The fabricator now prepares the panel for application of the conductive paste or circuit imaging. The surface preparation may consist of chemical dipping into an acid bath, followed by chemical cleaning, micro-etching, and application of an anti-tarnish agent.

Application of the image is usually accomplished by using a dry film, a screen printing process, or using a liquid photoimagable resist. The dry resist is laminated on to the panel using heat rollers. A sheet of film containing a negative image of the desired trace pattern is then placed on the coated panel.

Exposing the panel and the film to an ultraviolet light source hardens and fixes the specific areas of the resist under the transparent parts of the film, leaving the areas where the UV light does not penetrate as relatively soft and unexposed. The next stage is the developing process, where the unexposed soft resist is washed away, revealing the unwanted copper.

Also Read; How to Choose Professional PCB Prototype Assembler

The Etching Process

Fabricators use a chemical solution to dissolve the unwanted copper from the surface of the panel, leaving only the required copper circuitry under the photoresist. Once the hardened photoresist has been chemically stripped away, the desired copper pattern remains on the Polyimide surface.

An inspection process, involving visual and automatic optical inspection equipment, usually follows this stage. Sometimes, electrical test processes are also used.

Multilayer Rigid Flex Boards

Each additional layer is drilled and bonded on the base panel followed by the above process of through-hole plating, imaging, development, and etching. The fabricator bonds the rigid parts of the board also in the same manner.

Coverlay Application

At the final stage of the rigid flex circuit board manufacturing, the fabricator uses a coverlay to mask off all the copper areas of the flexible circuit that will not be soldered. This is an adhesive film prepared by drilling holes in the appropriate places, and the fabricator laminates this layer onto the flexible PCB.


Advantages of Using a Consultancy for Circuit Board Manufacturing

Written by Rush PCB Inc on . Posted in PCB, PCB Manufacturing

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Using a consultancy such as Rush PCB Inc. for PCB manufacturing services has its own advantages. PCB manufacturing involves several processes including etching, engraving, multi-layer processing, drilling, masking, surface treatments, and electrical testing. Most OEMs are specialists in the products they manufacture, but have limited knowledge about the PCB itself that they use in their product—its technology or the processes involved in PCB manufacturing. Therefore, circuit board manufacturers offer their consultancy services to enable OEMs achieve the best performance from each PCB. For instance, some enterprises need PCBs made from Polyimide for flexibility, some need them made from Arlon for longer life in high operating temperatures, and others need sophisticated HDI PCBs for compact high-speed applications.

Consultancy Services

Not only as a circuit board manufacturer, a consultancy provides useful services when OEMs face design and development delays related to a PCB or PCB assembly. Occasionally, the consultancy also has to involve itself in root-cause analysis investigations should a failure occur related to a PCB, its assembly, soldering, or even component placement issues. By selecting a consultancy that is highly experienced and passionate about all facets of electronic assembly and PCB manufacturing, the OEM can quickly get up to speed on the issue. A good consultancy uses the best industry practices and provides actionable solutions to eliminate the delays located.

Technical Expertise

By using special equipment such as 3D X-Rays, PCB manufacturing services can investigate faults such as those occurring in PCB vias and through-holes. Technical analysis equipment can provide sufficiently high levels of sophistication to interpret data from X-rays, apply it to the scope of the problem, and make suitable recommendations to resolve the issue.

Fabrication Experience

With over two decades of experience in PCB manufacturing, assembly, and testing, PCB manufacturing services such as Rush PCB Inc. offer their specialty and passion to assist technical teams understand specific methods PCB manufacturing involves. This allows OEMs avoid poor design and process decisions, manufacturing difficulties, expensive non-conformances, and productivity delays.

Certification to International Standards

When selecting a consultancy for circuit board manufacturing, OEMs need to look for those with certification to international standards such as the IPC-A-600. As most electronic products depend on a PCB, the IPC-A-600 standard defines the acceptability of printed boards for workmanship quality and sets comprehensive acceptance criteria.

Therefore, certification to IPC-A-600 implies the consultancy is serious about product quality and capable of identifying sources of non-conformance in their fabrication processes. Compliance to IPC-A-600 training and certification ensures the PCB manufacturing services provided by the consultancy reduces the risk of placing expensive components onto a defective PCB, reducing scrap, and facilitating more effective communication with OEMs. Consultancies with certification to international standards are more likely to employ experienced engineers, quality inspectors, and purchasing professionals to properly define PCB requirements, specify purchasing requirements, and detect non-conformances.

Global Supply Chain Development

With a suitable consultancy for PCB manufacturing services, OEMs can expect a positive impact on the quality and delivery of products to their worldwide customers. A good consultancy can identify quality component suppliers tailored to the specific requirements of the PCB, assembly applications, and product type.

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Production Services

Consultants to PCB manufacturing services such as Rush PCB Inc. can act as a one-stop source for any type of PCBs required by OEMs, including rigid boards, flexible boards, rigid-flex boards, and HDI boards. Apart from being expert circuit board manufacturers, they offer full turnkey PCB assembly services as well.

The above includes high-layer-count PCBs, prototypes, and production quantities for short runs, medium runs, and long runs. If required, they will accept the designs from the OEM, ensure the PCBs confirm to international standards, and assemble them exactly to the specifications set by the OEM.

OEMs using an experienced circuit board manufacturer as a consultancy can expect advantages such as minimum delays, with each PCB being built to the highest quality standards, and circuit board assemblies meeting the OEM requirements. They can expect PCB assemblies for flex and rigid-flex PCBs to match their schedules with unmatched quality and workmanship. The consultancy offers their expert services right from bare circuit board fabrication to box build and final assembly.




Why RushPCB is the Leading PCB Manufacturer in USA

Written by Rush PCB Inc on . Posted in PCB, PCB Design, PCB Manufacturing

Why RushPCB

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As a US based Printed Circuit Board Manufacturer, RushPCB delivers the utmost quality and value, both for low number PCB prototypes or large volume production lots. We can proudly confirm that our PCB manufacturing methods offer unbeatable prices for quick turn-around lead times at the best product quality. Simply leave us your specifications, and let our experienced sales support personnel and highly trained engineers get back to you with your exact requirements.

RushPCB Certifications

As RushPCB is certified for ISO 9001-2015 and AS 9000, we are fully equipped to supply products of outstanding functionality, quality, and reliability. We fabricate and assemble all our products in the US. Ranging from flex to rigid PCBs, we have full in-house capabilities, managed by staff with over twenty-five years of cumulative PCB manufacturing expertise.

As a leading electronics solutions manufacturing company, we have the capabilities to cater to a wide segment of PCB manufacturing services. Founded in 1997, we have, over the past two decades, partnered with various enterprises across a wide range of industries including consumer and automotive electronics, gaming, RF and wireless, nuclear, defense, and aerospace.

With a mission to build abiding relationships via collaborating with enterprises in an open and trusting environment, we render value with on our advanced capabilities including production, testing, quality, and logistics. With our AS 9000 and ISO 9001-2015 certification, we offer ourselves as a full service turnkey provider of custom electronics having the capability to provide a full range of skills starting from designing and prototyping to supplying new products and full volume production.

RushPCB Quality Standards

By making quality the cornerstone of all our activities, we continuously strive for improvement initiatives that include both internal as well as external factors related to PCB prototyping and full-scale PCB manufacture. We have invested in the latest technology, ensuring complete documentation, including ECNs and ECRs. We maintain a Quality Management System and track out vendors for quality, while we ensure all data requirements for customer quality remains on par with global benchmarks. For instance, our quality certificates include:

  • IPC-A-610 CLASS 1-2-3
  • MIL-STD-2000
  • ESD Safe Work Place
  • J Std 001E Class I, II, and III
  • FPF HDBK-263

We maintain a state of the art manufacturing facility with a full range of capabilities for manufacturing multi-layer PCBs from low to high volumes. We focus on technology so our capabilities are far superior to other manufacturers. For instance, some of our capabilities include automated stockrooms, automated selective soldering, multi-flex SMT lines equipped with in-line automated optical inspection capabilities, BGA x-ray, BGA install and rework facilities. Our test resources include highly qualified and trained engineers, functional and environmental test equipment, including ICT flying probe testing capabilities.

Also Read;  Manufacturing Process of Printed Circuit Boards at Rush PCB Inc.

RushPCB Services Offered

The full ranges of services we offer are:

  • Design & Multilayer PCB Layout
  • Multilayer PCB Manufacturing
  • Surface Mounted and Through Hole Assembly
  • Electro-Mechanical and Mechanical Assembly
  • Cable Harnessing and Connector Assembly
  • Final Product Assembly and Automated Testing Services
  • Components Purchasing Services
  • Complete Turnkey from Design to Finished Product
  • Prototyping & Production Assembly
  • Flow Soldering
  • Testing
  • Conformal Coating
  • Programming of EEPROM, Microprocessors & other IC’s

We specialize in design and layout of multilayer PCBs. We manufacture boards from two to 32 layers, offering full turnkey assemblies and quick turn consignments.

We specialize in high layer count PCBs using regular FR-4 and other exotic materials, for flexible, semi-flex, rigid, and HDI PCBs. We are specialists for micro-via drills, blind, and buried vias, and we can fill them with conductive and non-conductive fillings as required.

RushPCB Expertise

As an expert Printed Circuit Board manufacturer for fabrication and assembly, we produce all types of prototypes, and PCBs for short, medium, and long production runs. Using the customer’s design, we can create the layouts by orienting individual parts, produce the PCB, solder and assemble them together, and return finished PCBs to the customer.

We are entirely flexible towards the requirements of the customer. For instance, we can provide only the labor required for assembly of boards, or for partial turnkey assembly, we could purchase the parts for that and supply the labor for assembling them. If required for full turnkey assembly, we provide the design and labor, purchase the parts, and assemble the bare PCBs. We use automated machines for placing components and soldering them. This ensures precision and repeated installation.

Throughout the design and development process, our engineers work with the customer to ensure the product is manufacture able, has excellent quality, and consistency. For instance, we provide assistance for layer stacking, impedance calculations, and design for manufacturability. We also provide automated test systems to make sure everything works according to specifications.

Finally, RushPCB aims to deliver excellent quality printed circuit boards to the customers on time, every time. This makes us the leading Printed Circuit Board manufacturer in the USA.