Flexible PCB P-Flex® is completely Tool-less!

MFG. Process P-Flex Existing FPC
Circuit pattern formation Inkjet printing + High speed Electroless copper plating Create a photomask, Etching、(DI)
Soldermask / Coverlay UV Inkjet Printing(PET) Screen printing w/Mechanical, Film coverlay w/Die
Legend printing UV Inkjet Printing Screen printing with Mechanical
Outline cut / Stiffener creation Laser cutting Tool creation and Punching
Shipping inspection Utilize Flying probe tester for all design Inspection jig creation for each design

Flexible PCB P-Flex® is manufactured using the pure additive processing, in which metal nanoparticles are ink-jet printed only on the parts necessary to create the circuit, and the circuit is completed by high-speed electroless copper plating.

The following are explanations of the advantages provided along the manufacturing process flow.

Circuit pattern formation

P-Flex® flexible PCBs are manufactured using the pure additive method, which uses an inkjet printer to print metal nanoparticles on PET or PI substrates, and then completes the circuit by high-speed electroless copper plating. This method eliminates the need to create relatively expensive photomasks used in the existing subtractive method (etching method).

Conventional FPCs require the creation of an etching photomask, which incurs initial costs.

Solder Mask

Solder mask is a layer of insulating material placed over the Cu circuits on a substrate. There are three main purposes of solder mask.

  1. As an electrical insulator, it prevents conductive foreign objects from short-circuiting the circuit.
  2. As a physical protection layer for the circuit, it prevents dust from accumulating directly on the wiring and improves water resistance.
  3. When surface mount components are reflow soldered, the solder paste on the leads of the components does not flow out of the pads.

Flexible PCB P-Flex® PET is printed using a dedicated UV inkjet printer, eliminating the need to make individual metal mesh screen required for screen printing.
(For PI products, a film coverlay is currently used because there are many requests for compatibility with existing products. PET products also have the option of applying screen printing individually.

For conventional FPCs, silk screen printing is often used, and screen printing requires the creation of a metal mesh screen.
Alternatively, a film coverlay may be used, but a die must be made and punched to create the shape, and the initial cost of the die will be required.

Legend printing

Legend printing is the process of printing a part number or company logo on an FPC.

Flexible PCB P-Flex® uses a dedicated UV inkjet printer to print the legend, eliminating the need to make individual metal mesh screen required for screen printing. In addition, P-Flex® can provide added value that only inkjet printing can provide, such as adding a date code or printing a serial number for each individual product.

In general, silk screen printing is used for FPCs, and screen printing requires a metal mesh screen, which in turn requires initial costs.

Board outline cutting and stiffener making

Elephantech has a high-performance laser cutter that can be used for mass production, so there is no need to make a die for punching.
(*The option of using a die is also available depending on the shape and material of the board and the volume of mass production.)

For conventional FPCs, the process of creating a die and punching it out is necessary, which incurs initial costs such as the cost of the die.

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Shipping inspection

Elephantech uses a flying probe tester (flying checker) for shipping inspection.
By loading product inspection point information into the tester without creating an inspection jig for each individual product, a single flying probe tester can be used to perform outgoing inspection of multiple products at high speed.
The flying probe tester not only inspects for open-shorts, but also measures the resistance value between the nodes of the wiring to be inspected. It obtains the ideal resistance value of the wiring nodes and compares it with the resistance value during the actual inspection. By doing so, we can detect not only open-short faults, but also deviations in wiring resistance values.

For conventional FPCs, an inspection jig is created to inspect the circuit for open shorts.

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