Flexible electronics are lightweight, rugged, bendable, rollable, portable, and even foldable. As devices get smaller, the need for flexible electronic products is growing, and they are finding their way into more applications. Here are some interesting devices we have worked on.
Many of our wearable device designs have used flexible boards, including a wrist worn device. The wrist device monitors activity functions for people and provides feedback on their personal exercise and activities. It had so much biological data to collect, such as heart rate, perspiration, respiration, and blood pressure that it did not all fit in the rigid dial part. Some of the electronics needed to be placed on the flexible wrist portion. Using flexible boards allows the circuit to bend around the wrist.
Endoscope for measuring pressure in the heart
We designed a flexible board for an endoscope that is put down the throat. Since the trachea passes right by the heart, it is a much less invasive way to determine how well the heart is pumping and to measure the pressures in the heart. This innovative method may some day replace some open heart surgery or heart catheterizations for some procedures.
With flexible electronics, cameras can be positioned to simplify the viewing for doctors so they no longer have to get in awkward positions. Instead the camera can be moved in or out or change X, Y, and Z orientation. Careful mechanical and electrical design is needed because a hundred microns difference in how it is mounted to the lens changes the focus noticeably. One example where we managed this control was the WebCAM Camera where the flexible circuit board was designed with a rigid part where the camera chip is mounted. This is important to avoid having the chip pop off when the circuit is flexed.
Another project we advised on was using flexible boards to mount LEDs in a therapeutic device for pain. The driving reason for the flexible boards was because it needed to be thin and flexible. It was the best mechanism to meet the mandatory spacing requirement and to have the LEDs poke through the right places and be visible outside.
Flexible circuit boards finding more applications
The flexible circuit board is an established technology that is used in many of our everyday products like laptops and cell phones. Voler has considerable experience designing both high performance and high volume consumer applications that incorporate flexible circuit boards, we understand their unique capabilities and some of the unique constraints they impose on a system whether the goal is to get the lowest cost, highest performance, or greatest reliability.
We are also familiar with new flexible and stretchable electronics that are not yet mainstream but can solve unique problems with small and wearable devices.