There’s an old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” In other words, when faced with two good options, you must choose one – you can’t have both. How does this relate to product design and manufacturing? Well, for some time, there were two distinct camps of electronics: conventional rigid circuits and flexible printed circuits. The former delivered higher performance while the latter offered a more pliable form factor.
However, a new option has emerged: flexible hybrid electronics (FHE). This rapidly developing technology is expected to reach a value of over $3 billion by 2020 (IDTechEx).
Fully Printed Versus Flexible Hybrid Electronics
Flexible hybrid electronics are exciting because they offer the best of both worlds. With a typical flexible printed electronic, conductive circuits and other components such as antennas are printed on a flexible substrate (plastic, metal foil, etc.). The hybrid model is similar, except certain rigid components are added to the construction. Common non-printed features include silicon integrated circuits, film batteries, processors, and memory chips, but the possibilities are nearly endless. In most FHEs, the interconnects are printed onto the flexible substrate.
Benefits of Flexible Hybrid Electronics
By combining flexible and rigid components, this hybrid approach offers several advantages that cannot be achieved by either of the traditional methods on their own, including:
- Flexible form factor – enabling stretchable or conformal products
- Compact and lightweight design
- Increased processing power, capabilities, and transmission range
- Ability to use low-cost substrates
- High volume manufacturing with a low cost per unit
- High-precision production using advanced printing methods
Applications for Flexible Hybrid Electronics
As demand for smaller, smarter, and personalized products increases, FHEs can be incorporated in a wide range of component and devices, including:
- Smart packaging
- Smart labels
- RFID sensors
- Printed and flexible sensors
- In-mold electronics
- Medical devices and prosthetics
- Membrane switches and other display types
- Wearable and healthcare monitoring products
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices
Manufacturing Partner for Flexible Hybrid Electronics
It’s easy to see how FHEs are a game-changing advancement that can benefit product designers, OEMs, and consumers. The challenging part is figuring out how to implement and produce this highly sensitive technology. With a proven track record in engineering and manufacturing flexible printed electronics, Tapecon has the materials expertise and custom converting capabilities to help create flexible hybrid electronics for your next product.
Get Started with Flexible Hybrid Electronics
At Tapecon, we have over 100 years of experience helping customers solve their complex product challenges. Learn more about our flexible printed electronics applications.