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How OrCAD X Enables Rigid Flex PCB Applications

Key Takeaways

  • Rigid flex PCBs are integral in the medical (e.g., pacemakers, imaging equipment), military (e.g., weapon guidance systems), aerospace (e.g., radar equipment), and automotive industries.

  • These PCBs excel in environments requiring dynamic flexing, high vibration resistance, and operation in compact or irregular spaces.

  • OrCAD X enhances the design process with features like 3D visualization, MCAD-ECAD integration, and design rule checks, which are crucial for managing complex designs.

Rigid-flex PCB made in OrCAD X
Rigid-flex PCB made in OrCAD X 

Due to their adaptability and durability, rigid flex PCBs play a large role in technology across various industries. We’ll discuss rigid flex PCB applications in two distinct sections: industry-specific uses and capabilities-based applications. This format highlights how these boards enhance performance in challenging environments and accommodate operational needs. 

We will delve into the specific capabilities of rigid flex PCBs that make them well-suited for dynamic applications, high-vibration settings, and compact spaces. Finally, we will discuss how OrCAD X facilitates the development of these complex systems with tools tailored for flexible and rigid-flex PCB design.

Rigid Flex PCB Applications by Industry

Industry Type


Medical Industry

  • Handheld monitors

  • Pacemakers

  • Cochlear implants

  • Imaging equipment

  • Wireless controllers

Military Manufacturing

  • Communication systems

  • Weapon guidance systems

  • Tracking or surveillance systems

Aerospace Industry

  • Radio communication equipment and systems

  • Radar equipment

  • Motion sensors

  • Climate and environmental test chambers

  • Vibration and noise testing systems

Telecommunication Industry

  • Communication satellites

  • Signal processing electronic systems

  • Handheld units

  • Wireless communication electronic systems

Automotive Industry

  • Electronics Control Module

  • LCD Displays

  • Music systems

  • Comfort control units

  • Traction control systems

Industrial / Manufacturing Industry

  • Test equipment

  • Control panels

  • Industrial ACs

Consumer Appliances

  • TV remotes

  • Solar power controllers

  • Electronic irons

  • Washing machines

As you can see from the table, rigid flex PCBs are present in nearly every major industry and power some of our most-used technology. Their adaptability and durability make them highly desirable, flexible PCBs suitable for a wide variety of uses. 

Capabilities-Based Applications of Rigid Flex PCBs

Capability Type


Dynamic Flexing

  • Portable electronics that require bending during use

  • Rotating devices such as small motors or joint connections in robotics


  • Devices requiring board folding into compact form factors like flip phones or compact cameras

  • Installation in irregularly shaped spaces, such as curved surfaces in automotive interiors or aerodynamic profiles in aerospace

High Vibration Environments

  • Industrial machinery operating in high-stress conditions

  • Aerospace components such as sensors and connectors that face constant motion and vibration

  • Military equipment deployed in mobile or unstable conditions

High Current and Heat

  • Power electronics requiring high current carrying capacity

  • Server farms and high-performance computing devices that manage large data transfers and heat generation

  • Electric vehicles' power control modules where both high current management and cooling are critical

Small or Irregular Spaces

  • Compact sensors and actuaries in advanced medical implants or minimally invasive surgical tools

  • Space-constrained applications in consumer electronics like smart rings or embedded sensors in smart apparel

High-Reliability Needs

  • Medical devices such as pacemakers and cochlear implants requiring consistent performance over long periods

  • Military and aerospace systems where failure can lead to critical outcomes

  • Automotive safety systems like airbag controllers and traction control systems

Flexible Connections

  • Wiring and connectors that need to accommodate movement between sections of a device, like laptop hinges or movable camera parts

  • Interconnections within large systems requiring layout flexibility to route around obstacles or through tight spaces, like in large scale industrial machines

PCB Designed in OrCAD X With a Flexible Connector

PCB Designed in OrCAD X With a Flexible Connector

How OrCAD X Supports Rigid-Flex PCB Development 

OrCAD X Capability



3D Engine and Visualization

OrCAD X's enhanced 3D engine helps visualize the placement and fit of components in complex rigid-flex designs. This is critical for applications in small or irregular spaces.

  • Advanced medical implants

  • Compact consumer electronics

  • Aerospace components

MCAD-ECAD Integration

This integration enables better coordination between mechanical and electronic design teams, crucial for high-reliability needs in various industries. It helps ensure that the PCB design meets mechanical constraints and operational requirements, reducing rework and ensuring reliability.

  • Medical devices

  • Aerospace components

  • Automotive electronics

Manipulation According to Material Flexure and Bend Radii

OrCAD X allows designers to adjust 3D assemblies based on material flexibility and bend radii. This capability is specifically valuable for dynamic flexing applications.

  • Wearable health monitors

  • Rotating devices in robotics

Flexible and Rigid-Flex Zone Setup

The ability to clearly define and configure cross-sections for different zones of the PCB (rigid and flex) is required for applications involving flexible connections and flex-to-install scenarios. This feature ensures that different parts of the PCB behave as expected under operational conditions.

  • Applications involving flexible connections

  • Flex-to-install scenarios

Design Rule Checks (DRC) for Rigid-Flex Designs

Setting specific constraints and DRCs for rigid-flex designs helps prevent issues during manufacturing. This is useful for industries requiring high precision and adherence to specifications.

  • Military manufacturing

  • Telecommunications

Interactive 3D Adjustments and Collision Detection

Being able to adjust designs in real-time and check for collisions in a 3D space helps designers optimize layouts for all applications mentioned. This is especially beneficial in dense packaging, where space is at a premium and all components must fit precisely.

  • Handheld units

  • Automotive electronics

Export 3D Data for External Analysis

The capability to export 3D data for further analysis helps in the verification and validation process (which is crucial for all applications) to ensure designs meet the necessary standards and functionalities before going into production.

  • General verification and validation across all applications

To explore the full potential of OrCAD X for rigid flex PCB applications, sign up for a free trial. This trial allows firsthand experience with specialized features like 3D visualization and MCAD-ECAD integration, which is essential for rigid flex design. 

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