December 20, 2004 -- Mentor Graphics Corp. has incorporated advanced design capabilities for flex and rigid-flex boards into its Expedition and Board Station RE PCB layout tools to meet the growing need of customers in the telecom and consumer electronics industries who are adopting flex PCB technology for applications requiring high functionality in small, handheld form factors.
The use of flex PCBs is not new but until recently had been relegated to very specialized uses such as automotive dashboards and other flexible connection methods such as laptops. These limited applications were designed using mostly manual, layout methods. Now the use of flex PCBs is pervasive in cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and most other space constrained, high functionality consumer products. For example, most handheld digital cameras now include a single rigid-flex board folded into the form factor. In these highly competitive markets time-to-market is paramount and product life cycles are short. Designers need the same levels of design productivity for flex that they have for their rigid boards.
"Industry statistics show that a significant portion of the growth in PCB manufacturing will be in flex and rigid-flex production," said Henry Potts, vice president and general manager, Systems Design Division, Mentor Graphics. "We anticipated this trend based on interactions with some of our major customers in the telecom and consumer electronics industries and invested to enhance our solutions to meet their needs."
Mentor Graphics has enhanced its AutoActive placement and routing environment in its Board Station and Expedition design flows to allow the definition and checking of the complex rules for flex circuit design while maintaining the high levels of productivity offered with the AutoActive tool's push-and-shove and multi-plow routing. These flex rules include curved trace settings by area, complex contour following for routes, teardrops at pins, t-junctions and route width changes, cross-hatching of shielding areas, and selective pad modifications. These rules enable the complex shapes of flex circuits as well as maintain product reliability after severe bending. Now designers can achieve the same levels of productivity for flex circuits as they experience for rigid PCBs.
Pricing and Availability
These flex circuit enhancements are available immediately and can be purchased as options to the Expedition Series and Board Station RE flows. Pricing starts at $7,500 per year.
Go to the Mentor Graphics Corp. website for details.