EDA > General PCB/EDA/CAD Discussions

Circuit film/sheet?

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king.oslo:
Hello there,

I was asked about the possibility of making a flexible PCB, like a sheet of plastic or fabric, with surface mount LEDs. Ideally, one which is so flexible that it can be rolled or folded to take up less space while not used. The guy who asked me wants to either make massive LED-array-sheet with thousands of LEDs, or smaller units which can be connected to make up one massive array. We are talking several meters in length and width. I reckon the placing and soldering will me a momentous task, probably not to be attempted by a hobbyist. So I said I cannot do it.

However, I offered to ask on this forum if somebody is aware of processes which can do this? Are there companies which makes something like plastic sheet pcbs, that can be assembled robotically?

What are your thoughts?

Thanks.M

ciccio:
Flexible PCB are standard products from a lot of manufacturers.
The following is an example from an Italian one:
http://www.somacis.com/prodotti/prodotti.php?cat=4&catname=&subcat=&language=en

Regards

mosrob:
Here's another one that makes "Flexible circuit boards":
Poly IC, Germany: http://www.polyic.com/

IanB:
At the sizes you are asking about, it might be better to use some kind of fabric and wire up the LEDs with conductive thread. People have done that a lot with clothing.

ejeffrey:
I am not sure whether conventional flexible PCB manufacturing typically can handle such large sizes, but I doubt it.

It is possible to do screen printing or industrial inkjet printing of conductive inks onto rolls of plastic.  You should actually be able to order this in quantities that are large for a hobbyist or one-off, but not off the charts.  I don't know how you would do the placement: it is certainly possible to do machine placement on a rolling web, but I don't know what standard process might accommodate that -- if you can't find someone who can already do it tooling would obviously be extremely expensive.  If you could solve that, you could then laminate the whole thing with another layer of plastic and be off and running.

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