Optimizing Flexible PCB Panelization to Reduce Costs

As the demand for electronic performance continues to rise, the application scope of flexible PCB (FPC) is expanding rapidly. Professional organizations predict that the market share of flexible PCB will grow by over 8% in the next decade. However, due to factors such as substrate materials and manufacturing processes, the flexible PCB cost is much higher than that of rigid boards. Therefore, there is an urgent need to reduce the overall project cost through more reasonable flexible PCB panelization designs.

Reducing Costs through Panelization

In PCB projects, starting from the design phase and conducting Design for Manufacturability (DFM) after completion to reduce iterations between design and manufacturing is crucial for saving time and labor costs. However, some costs are fixed and difficult to avoid, especially for high-density devices that may require more layers of PCB to improve performance, or specific materials required for certain projects. Therefore, achieving true cost-effectiveness requires optimizing PCB panels to increase material utilization.

Panelization refers to combining individual flexible PCB into a single panel during production, which is then cut into individual boards after production is completed. By carefully designing the panel layout, the given space can be maximally utilized to accommodate more circuit boards of the same size, thereby increasing material utilization and reducing manufacturing costs.

Principles of Flexible PCB Panelizatiox

Early determination of the PCB outline is crucial, as it is difficult to make changes in later stages. Therefore, a regular outline shape should be adopted in the design phase, with specific pitches set to ensure efficient repetition of manufacturing process units.

Generally, the price of a panel per unit area is fixed. For example, the price of a 1-square-meter FPC panel placed on the top side is $100, meaning that the price within this area is fixed regardless of the number of boards. Under the premise of being able to produce in each process, the panels should be “squeezed” as much as possible, meaning that the distance between adjacent boards should be minimized to reduce the overall size of the panel and ultimately lower the unit price of flexible PCB.

The spacing between individual boards should be at least 2.5mm, and positioning holes should be added to the four corners of the panel, with different holes marked at one corner for consistency in subsequent processes, avoiding issues such as offsetting during lamination and die-cutting. The width of the panel should be fixed at 250mm, and the length should be controlled within 250mm to avoid excessive offsetting, which may reduce production accuracy and increase the rate of defective products. Finally, etching characters should be added to the panel to indicate dimensions, quantities, etc., for subsequent production verification and validation.

For flexible PCB with rectangular or square contours, they can be directly arrayed in the direction of a single board, while for those with curved or folded contours, the single board should be tilted to a certain extent before arraying.

Steps for Flexible PCB Panelization Design

  1. Determine Design Requirements

Determine the flexible PCB design requirements, including circuit structure, dimensions, and layout.

  1. Draw Circuit Schematics

Based on the design requirements, draw circuit schematics, label signal lines, power lines, and ground lines in the schematics, and determine pin assignments.

  1. Perform Layout Design

Based on the circuit schematics, perform layout design by placing various modules or components in appropriate positions. CAD software can be used for layout design to better control wiring and space utilization.

  1. Conduct Wiring Design

Based on the layout design, perform wiring on the flexible PCB, paying attention to parameters such as the direction, length, and width of signal lines, as well as the crossing and interference issues with other lines.

  1. Complete Connections

Based on the pin assignments, connect multiple boards together to form a whole, which can be achieved through soldering or pressure bonding.

  1. Inspection and Validation

After completing the panelization design, it needs to be inspected and validated. Check for errors or omissions, and verify that it functions properly.

You Might Be Interested

Flexible PCB Reflow
Ultimate Guide to Flexible PCB Reflow

From the concepts of flexible PCB and reflow soldering to overcoming soldering defects and material degradation, delve into TechSparks’ comprehensive insights for optimal reflow practices.

Flexible PCB Testing Guide
Flexible PCB Testing Guide

Dive into the world of flexible PCB testing with TechSparks! Explore the methods, challenges, and IPC standards essential for ensuring the reliability and functionality of

Flexible PCB Adhesive
Flexible PCB Adhesive Selection Guide

PCB adhesives or glues are viscous liquids or gel-like substances used to bond different layers of PCB together. However, there are various options available, and

ultra thin flex pcb
Ultra-Thin Flexible PCB

Ultra-thin flexible PCBs, with a 55% thickness reduction, respond to the demand for miniaturized electronics. These PCBs offer size and weight advantages, ideal for applications

Scroll to Top