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Rigid or Flexible? Which is the Right Choice for You?

18 June 2020

Hitaltech explore the board to board connector decision-making process.

The question of whether a flexible or rigid interconnect solution is right for your application isn’t usually an either/or scenario. This isn’t a PC/Mac or (for those of an older vintage) VHS/Betamax comparison where either could do most jobs perfectly adequately and the choice is a matter of preference.

If you’re using multiple PCBs, there’s usually a right time to choose one option over the other. Making that decision involves weighing the technical needs of the product, the functionality and the production implications against the distinct benefits of the two connector types.

The benefits of rigid

Rigid systems:

·       Offer multiple connection points for transferring signal and power from one PCB to another

·       Can be used for mechanical as well as electrical connection

·       Are ideal when PCBs are stacked one on top of the other or parallel

·       Can be supplied in ultra-fine pitches and multiple rows giving a large number of connection points in a dense footprint.

·       Usually operate over relatively short distances and are often pluggable using a male and female arrangement

·       Are offered in conventional through hole format for manual insertion and SMD options for automatic pick and place and reflow soldering

·       Can be assembled separately before PCBs are plugged together at box build stage

·       Allow a modular approach enabling you to add optional daughter boards

·       Can be supplied with gold plated contacts for low signal transfer

The benefits of flexible

Flexible systems:

·       Can be integrated into multiple PCBs assembled in a panel, which can then be broken out and folded into the desired position

·       Can be used to connect PCBs over a longer distance than is possible with a rigid system and can be permanently soldered or plugged using FFC connectors

·       Can be used in complex geometries, connecting PCBs which are not aligned

·       Can be used for both signal and power applications up to 12 Ampere per conductor

·       Are desirable when the PCBs to be connected are subjected to vibration

·       Are available in conventional through-hole or SMD packages for automatic pick and place or reflow soldering

Is price a determining factor?

Price, in terms of the individual component cost, is rarely likely to be a deciding factor. But price does become relevant when considering ongoing functionality and production costs. As the points above demonstrate, rigid or flexible can both offer advantages. The key to cost-effective design, and potentially to ongoing reliability, functionality, longevity and ease of use is marrying the right connector type with the right product.

The best of both worlds

Hitaltech’s introduction of rigid board to board connectors to its Conex-it range comes some years after the introduction of our flexible systems. Rigid connectors are certainly not new, but offering both types enables our customers to find every option in one place – something that remains rare within the electronics industry.

That choice and flexibility extends to production processes too, with products that can either be through-hole or reflow soldered. And our new SMD R adds even greater choice in terms of bridging lengths for automatic production processes.

Simplification. Flexibility. Options. They’re key to making manufacturing more cost effective. And now they’re also at the heart of what Hitaltech does. So whatever the connector, we’re now your one-stop shop. Talk to us about the right connectors for your application now.

Hitaltech UK Ltd

Web – www.hitaltech.co.uk

Email – uksales@hitaltech.co.uk

Tel – 44 (0) 1253 899910

 



 
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