The robotics industry is dynamic and progresses quickly. It requires advanced technologies to develop next-generation, innovative systems. Flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) play a vital role in the manufacturing of next-generation robotics

The Role of Flexible PCBs in the Design of Next-Generation Robotics
The Role of Flexible PCBs in the Design of Next-Generation Robotics

Flexible PCBs provide a durable, reliable solution that allows robotics manufacturers to create compact, flexible robotic systems. These PCBs offer the design flexibility robotics engineers require to create platforms that are not only compact, but highly adaptable to meet the demands of the next generation.

In this article, we’ll explore the multifaceted role of flexible PCBs and how robotic PCBs can unlock improved efficiency and flexibility in next-generation robotics.

What are flexible PCBs and their unique advantages?

As the name may suggest, flex PCBs are a type of printed circuit board that is designed with flexibility in mind. Due to their flexible plastic material, they are designed to twist, bend and reshape however you need them to. Rather than building a device to fit the size of a circuit board, flex PCBs are designed to fit the device or product, saving you unnecessary hassle and unlocking creative freedom.

Here are just some of the key benefits of flexible PCBs: 

  • Space saving: The design and nature of flex PCBs mean they can fit into tight spaces and unusual shapes, allowing manufacturers to maximise space within smaller robotic systems.
  • Enhanced flexibility: As mentioned, flex PCBs can flex and bend freely, making them durable and adaptable. When it comes to robotics, you can integrate PCBs with no trouble without performance being affected. 
  • Thermal management: Due to their substrates such as polyimide, flex PCBs have better thermal conductivity than other circuit board materials. When it comes to robotics, thermal management is vital to achieve optimal performance. 
  • Lightweight: Flexible PCBs are light in weight, especially compared to rigid PCBs. Where robotics are concerned, this works as an advantage as the lighter the weight, the more efficient the system can be, and you’ll save on energy consumption too.

Design considerations for robotics applications

Considering the following factors can help you avoid potential delays and production issues during the robotics design process:

  • Thermal issues: Your robotics systems are likely to generate significant heat, especially if they use high-performance processors or motors. To avoid thermal issues, allow heat to dissipate by ensuring space between the components that heat up. You may also choose to incorporate heat sinks, fans and ventilation systems. 
  • Durability: As you’ll know, robotics components endure significant mechanical impact and vibration during operation, making durability a design priority. Make sure you select materials and construction methods that can handle these stresses. Here at ABL Circuits, our PCBs are built with durability in mind to ensure maximum performance in all conditions. 
  • Signal integrity: Robotic systems must maintain signal integrity to ensure the quality and reliability of electrical signals. Without it, the communication and signal processing between components may be affected. 
  • Different environments: Robotics systems may operate in a range of environments, such as outdoor spaces, indoors and industrial conditions. These different environments require materials and components that can withstand these conditions, as well as temperature fluctuations, humidity and moisture. Robotics designers need to ensure components are protected against harsh conditions to guarantee long-term performance and durability. 

FPCBs for highly reliable sensor integration

Flexible PCBs allow for the seamless integration of sensors within robotic systems. FPCBs’ flexible form allows sensors to be seamlessly integrated throughout the robot, including its joints and end effectors which help it to interact and perform. The flexibility of the FPCB also makes efficient use of space, without interfering with other components. 

Flexible PCBs also support high-density interconnects, making for seamless connection of multiple sensors to the robot’s control system. This is essential when it comes to integrating different sensor types such as force sensors and proximity sensors. FPCBs also promise signal integrity and reliability by reducing signal loss and interference which is crucial for robot control. 

If you’re looking for PCBs that enable reliable sensor integration that allows for precise robot control and feedback, flexible PCBs are the ideal solution.

ABL Circuits – expertise tailored to robotics

We’re one of the UK’s most reliable and forward-thinking PCB manufacturers, with over 30 years of experience in PCB design, manufacturing and assembly. With an innovative approach and the latest technology, our flexible PCBs offer the reliability and quality you need for the next generation of robotics. 

Reach out to our friendly team today for your tailored PCBs in robotics solution – we’re looking forward to working with you.