Engineers are accustomed to the demanding challenges of designing for miniaturization, cost reduction, cross platform compatibility, and harsh environments. What has proven to be the most painful experience of my career (and for many of my colleagues) is the sheer lack of components from which to build our designs. Development cycles—commercial, industrial, medical, avionics—have been severely impacted, from large enterprise corporations to small design/integration companies. Awareness of the situation is the first step to understanding the underlying problems faced by today’s design engineers industry wide. Here are a few of the situations I have faced in the last year alone.
Flexible circuit technology has been rising ever higher on the radar of those charged with designing next generation electronic products for every imaginable application, from the mundane to the highly exotic. The technology is being embraced by a growing fanbase as they become increasingly aware of flex circuit technology’s numerous benefits. They are being driven to new heights by industry and government collaborations such as NextFlex and FlexTech, and their laser-like focus on what was formerly called printed polymer thick film circuits, now rebranded as flex hybrid electronics (FHE) and printed electronics.