High-reliability flexible circuit board sales for 2011 are taking off at Mass Design Incorporated – much of it from medical device manufacturers that strive to cram more functionality into smaller spaces. Flex circuits combine circuitry with wiring in a single unit and conform to just about any shape to eliminate bulk. “While avionics and defense industry demand for our flexible circuit boards continues to grow; we see record growth of 18% from the medical electronics sector: diagnostic and monitoring equipment, surgical tools and both implantable and non-implantable medical devices,” said Bill Gately, sales manager, Mass Design (http://www.massdesign.com). Mass Design has been manufacturing flexible circuit boards for medical products manufacturers such as Siemens, Nova Biomedical, GE Healthcare, Baxter, Tyco and others for over a decade.
Mass Design fabricates printed circuit boards (PCBs) for original equipment manufacturers as well as manufacturing fully assembled printed circuit boards with all components installed. The PCBs may be flexible, rigid or rigid-flex boards that combine the two in a single unit.
According to research published by the electronics manufacturing trade group IPC in Bannockburn, IL, (http://www.ipc.org) after a decline in North American flexible circuit production of 2.3 percent in 2009, current sales are way up. An October 2009-2010 comparison shows “flexible circuit shipments increased 11.0% and bookings were up 19.4%.”
A recent article in The Economist on “A shapely future for circuits,” predicts that coming generations of circuits will not only be flexible but will stretch to mimic, say, human skin in a prosthetic hand. Even the hard components that sit on tiny islands in these circuits may one day be flexible as well (http://www.economist.com/node/18304110).
Flex and rigid PCBs are designed and manufactured at Mass Design’s own US-based, 75,000 square-foot facility in Nashua, New Hampshire and by manufacturing partners in Asia.
Says Neil Chulada, printed circuits operation manager, “Flex circuit processing enables us to meet the needs of a broader range of customers and provide one-stop service to those who need flexible, rigid-flex and rigid circuit boards.”
Mass Design produces flex circuits using Acrylic/Kapton, as well as adhesive-less materials with either Kapton or liquid photo-imageable overcoats. Finishes are tailored specifically for lead free HAL processing. Fully dynamic continuous flex circuits, as well as one time “flex to install” stiffened types are also available, according to Chulada.