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FIGURE 64.16
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Examples of soldering lead-type connection in flexible circuits.
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General Connectors Most of the general connectors designed for other wiring technologies are applicable without serious changes. (Figure 64.16 shows a set of alternative designs.) 64.5.1.1 Card-Edge Connectors. All kinds of connectors designed for rigid circuit boards are available for flexible circuits. They can be mounted and soldered on flexible circuits supported with stiffener boards of suitable thickness. Card-edge connectors designed for rigid circuit boards are also available. A flexible circuit with a suitable stiffener board on the bottom can be inserted into the connector. However, the newest FFC connectors designed specifically for flexible circuits have a much higher density in a smaller housing and should be replaced by FFC connectors for large volume.
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FIGURE 64.17 High-pin-count area array connectors available for high density flexible circuits.
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64.5.1.2 Area Array Connectors. Density higher than 150 mm pitch on double-sided flexible circuits with through holes is required for high-pin-count connections. All kinds of connectors designed for rigid printed circuit boards are available for flexible circuits with some modification on flexible construction. A newly designed array connector for high-density flexible circuits can make 300 connections in a 10 15 mm area (see Fig. 64.17). Special constructions are not necessary, other than 0.5 mm pitch array soldering. However, traces with pitches smaller than 150 mm are required for high pin counts.They can survive 1,000 repeated contacts. 64.5.1.3 Crimp Tabs. Crimp tabs were originally developed for connections of flat conductor cables; however, they are also applied for flexible circuits because of the similar construction. An applicator firmly staples female tabs mechanically through dielectric layers (see Fig. 64.18). Male tabs are stapled on the other cable. Both are covered with plastic housings. Because there is no soldering process, polyester-based materials are available. For a long
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FIGURE 64.18
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Clamp type connector for flexible circuits.
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time, the standard pitch was 2.54 mm. A 1.25 mm system was introduced recently, doubling the connection density. The connectors can make reliable repeated connections more than 100 times. Total cost per connection is relatively high. 64.5.2 FFC Connectors for Flexible Circuits Originally, FFC connectors were developed for laminated cable with flat conductors to connect to another circuit board. A similar construction of flexible circuits was developed to attach the connector. At this time, the standard pitch of the connectors was 2.54 mm. Due to increased trace densities of flexible circuits, small-pitch FFC connectors are now required. The newest connector can make 0.3 mm pitch connections for 30 traces. Zero in force (ZIF) mechanisms were introduced for easier handling. Due to limited height requirements for thin board assembly, a 1.0 mm high connector from the board surface is now available. 64.5.3 Pair Connectors for Flexible Circuits Originally, the board-to-board connectors were designed for the connection between rigid circuit boards, and they have been also used for the connection of flexible circuits to rigid circuit boards. However, portable electronic products demand thin connectors with small pitches for the flexible circuit connections, so connector manufacturers have developed special connectors called pair connectors specifically for connecting high-density flexible circuits. Basically, they are a pair of male and female connectors separately mounted on the flexible circuit and rigid board by SMT soldering (see Fig. 64.19). The smallest pitch of the pair connector is 0.5 mm. It is larger than the smallest pitches of FFC connectors; however, because the pair connectors have dual line contacts and soldering leads, they can manage more pin numbers in a limited space.A higher reliability for the repeated connections is another advantage of the pair connectors. Accordingly, they have been used as the standard methods for connecting high-density flexible circuits in portable electronics such as cellular phones and digital cameras (see Fig. 64.19).
FIGURE 64.19 cellular phone.
Pair connectors for flexible circuits. Example shown is for connection in
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Bump and Dimple Array Contacts Small bump arrays are valuable for the nonpermanent connections of high-density flexible circuits.Various bump constructions on flexible circuits have been developed through different manufacturing processes that are driven by the needs of specific applications. 64.5.4.1 Dimple Contacts. Dimpled pads of flexible circuits can be a low-cost solution for high-density connection of flexible circuits. One hundred contacts in 12.5 mm square between flexible circuits and the other circuit boards are possible. Appropriately shaped dimples are formed by pressure and temperature for a gold-plated pad. Dimpled pads with hard gold plating have enough life for several thousand connections and disconnections (see Fig. 64.20). The dimples are supported with bumped rubber to create long and reliable contacts. The pitches of the dimples cannot be smaller than 1.5 mm, but high-density termination can be realized with the area dimple array.
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