What are the benefits of the soft and hard combination design of printed circuit board PCB?

This is an ever-changing era. In addition to creativity and design capabilities, today's designers face many limitations, and they need to face more and more complex designs—a series of peripherals connected via IO. Moreover, today's designs are increasingly pursuing product miniaturization, low cost and high speed, especially in the mobile device market. In recent years, a large number of high-performance, multi-functional devices have emerged in an endless stream, and the market has developed particularly rapidly, making savvy consumers dizzying. Pushing these products into the electronics design market requires a tight design process that typically involves high-density electronic circuits while also reducing manufacturing time and costs.

One solution to help designers and design teams meet these challenges is the combination of soft and hard design techniques, the hard and soft combination of printed circuit boards (PCBs). Although this is not the latest technology, a combination of factors indicates that the technology is universal and can reduce costs. From the traditional rigid cable connected by cable to the soft and hard board technology of today, from the perspective of cost, the connection of two hard boards and flexible cables is feasible for short-term design; however, this needs to be Connectors are installed on the board, and the connectors need to be assembled to the board and cables - all of which adds cost. In addition, rigid PCBs with cable connections are prone to electrical soldering, which can lead to failures. In contrast, the combination of soft and hard circuits eliminates these solder joints, making them more reliable and providing higher overall product quality.

Let's take a closer look at the total cost. Figure 1 compares the simulated manufacturing costs of a rigid PCB with a traditional cable connection and a 3D soft-hard combination design. The traditional design consists of a rigid board that uses flexible cables and connectors, while the soft and hard combination design is embedded in a soft and hard board with two layers of built-in soft layers in the middle. The overall structure is a set of four-layer printed circuit boards. The manufacturing costs for both designs are based on the PCB manufacturer's quotation, including assembly costs. In addition, the cost of two separate four-layer boards, connectors, and cables in traditional design factors needs to be added.

Figure 1: Comparison of the cost of rigid PCB assembly for hard and soft combination design and cable connections.

As can be seen from the figure, when the number of manufacturing is more than 100 sets, the combination of soft and hard design is more time-saving and more efficient than the traditional design. Mainly because the hard and soft combination circuit does not contain any connector components/cables and does not require connector assembly. Not only that, they are reliable and crafted. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

With soft and hard bonding technology, designers can interconnect multiple PCBs with connectors, wires and cables in a single package. Because the hard and soft bond boards do not require cable assembly, this reduces overall assembly overhead and test complexity. Both of these help to reduce costs. In addition, fewer components need to be purchased, which reduces bills of material and reduces supply chain risk and costs. The soft and hard bonding board makes the maintenance of the product more convenient and saves costs throughout the product life cycle.

Manufacturing, assembly, testing, and logistics costs are factors that cannot be ignored for any project, design, and cost control that uses both soft and hard design techniques. Soft and hard design often requires a mechanical team to assist with flexible design and PCB integration of the final product. This process is time consuming, costly, and error prone.

To make matters worse, PCB design tools often overlook the folding and assembly problems of soft and hard combination designs. The combination of soft and hard design requires designers to think and work in 3D thinking. The flexible part can be folded, twisted, rolled up to meet mechanical design requirements. However, traditional PCB design tools do not support bending and wrinkle simulation of 3D board design or rigid design parts, and even do not support the definition of different stack design parts, including flexible design parts.

Because of this, the combination of soft and hard designers was forced to manually convert the rigid and flexible parts of the 3D design into a flat, 2D production format. Later, the designer also needs to manually record the soft design area and carefully review to ensure that no components or vias are placed between the rigid and flexible areas. This process is also hampered by many other rules, and most of these rules are not supported by PCB design software.

In general, designing a hard and soft PCB requires more effort than a competitively rigid standard rigid PCB designed using traditional PCB software. Fortunately, modern design tools with advanced 3D capabilities support the definition and simulation of bends in flexible design sections while supporting the definition of different design sections and different stack layers. These tools largely eliminate the reliance on mechanical CAD tools when dealing with flexible parts, saving time and money for designers and design teams.

Through the use of modern PCB design tools, developers and board manufacturers coordinate in a timely manner, promoting the time-saving efficiency of the combination of soft and hard technology. The combination of soft and hard design requires close cooperation between designers and manufacturers compared to traditional rigid board and cable designs. Successful production of hard and soft boards requires designers and manufacturers to develop design rules, including: number of layers in the design, material selection, via size, bonding, and dimensional control. With the right design tools, clear definitions and trade-offs can be made early in the design process to optimize the soft and hard bond plates, further reducing overall costs.

There is no denying that current industry trends and consumer demands are driving designers and design teams to challenge design limits and enable them to develop new electronic products to meet market challenges. These challenges, especially the demands of today's mobile devices, have driven the combination of soft and hard technologies to become the mainstream of the design world and to achieve higher business value in a wide range of applications, especially those with hundreds of sets. Modern PCB design tools support 3D product development, pre-cooperation and all necessary definitions and simulations of soft and hard integration, greatly reducing the hassle of soft and hard design, making their solutions more attractive; in addition, rigid PCBs compared to cable connections Design, its price is cheaper. For the design team, different choices mean that the success or failure of the product is in the first line.