With SOLIDWORKS PCB 2020, flex and rigid-flex board design is now available.
With flex and rigid-flex PCB design, the design process can be very difficult at times as the 3 dimensional shape of the board is more complex than a typical rigid PCB being fitted into an enclosure. As flex/rigid-flex boards are designed to bend, fitting the PCB inside its enclosure can sometimes be time consuming as the old paper “dolls” methods/cutouts can take extra time to make and test — and yet there is still guess work that can lead to errors in the design.
With SOLIDWORKS PCB, all the above issues can be eliminated as the design, verification, and conformity of the flex/rigid-flex PCB inside its enclosure can all be verified within SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS PCB without any guess work.
This is a great solution especially when combined with the power of 3D printing as the full product (PCB and enclosure) can be designed and verified in SOLIDWORKS prior to being built, reducing costs – as prototypes can be 3D printed in house, and in lesser quantities.
To create a rigid/rigid-flex PCB in SOLIDWORKS PCB:
- Design the shape of the board, and note the rigid and flexible segments of the design (this is done as normal in SOLIDWORKS PCB).
- Launch the Layer Stack Manager, and select the Advanced tab.
- Next, choose the layer stack desired, add stacks as needed for the rigid and flex (or just flex). Ensure to check the “Flex” checkbox for the flex segment.
- Once that is completed, we can go ahead and start defining the different stacks on our board. Navigate to Board > Board Shape > Edit Board Shape.
- Edit the board shape as needed, define split lines to split the different stacks up.
- Once the board is split, double click each region and use the drop down menu to assign it the correct stack.
- Ensure to select the 3D Locked option for the region that the flex board will be “flexing” or bending around. The 3D locked region is the main region of the PCB.
- Next place the bend lines where the board is intended to bend, this will be used to model the PCB bending when viewed in 3D
When the board is now viewed in 3D (by clicking the shortcut keyboard key ‘3’), the board appears as normal.
However, when it number ‘5’ shortcut is clicked, the board will animate and bend as defined
This board can then be pushed over through the SOLIDWORKS PCB Connector to SOLIDWORKS where the mechanical designer can ensure it will fit and bend perfectly inside its enclosure. This addition to SOLIDWORKS PCB will save time and effort when it comes to designing flex or rigid-flex PCBs.