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What Is the Main Differences Between FFC and FPC?

Jarnistech > Articles > BLOG > What Is the Main Differences Between FFC and FPC?
What Is the Main Differences Between FFC and FPC?

As a response to the trend toward miniaturization in the electronics industry, Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) connectors have been designed to meet the demands of this expanding market, which require smaller centerlines or pitch spacing, lower profile heights, and lighter interconnects. JarnisTech, being a trusted manufacturer of FPC products, offers dependable interconnects that incorporate an actuator mechanism to secure the cable termination. Our FPC solutions are also field-terminatable with no special tooling required.

Available in centerline spacings of 0.25mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 1.0mm, and 1.25mm, our connectors are engineered with low profile heights and lightweight to cater to the miniaturization requirements of modern-day electronics.

The Challenge of Miniaturizing Electronics: Connector

In response to the burgeoning market for compact electronic devices, manufacturers have developed connectors that offer shorter centerlines or pitch distances, lower profile heights, and lighter interconnect solutions. Various techniques can be utilized to evaluate the capabilities of Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) connectors.

FPC connectors are becoming increasingly popular as cable connectors for smart applications due to their delicate shape factors and exceptional flexibility. These connectors offer high density and can serve a wide range of advanced applications and market segments. With superior profile design and a constant decrease in form factor standards, FPC connectors provide flexible cable solutions that can be incorporated into even the smallest of spaces.

Flexible Connector Types: FFC Connector and FPC Connector

Flat Flexible Cables Connector

Flexible Flat Cable FFC Connector

Flexible Flat Cable (FFC) connectors are commonly utilized in cable-to-board applications for connecting ribbon-type FFCs to PCB electronics, and can also be ordered in cable-to-cable arrangements. These connectors possess high-density and ultra-thin form factors, making them suitable for small and compact areas. They are widely used in consumer electronics such as computers, cameras, computer peripherals, appliances, and phones. A flexible housing made of plastic, polymer, engineered rubber, or film encapsulates an integrated metal connector in a single or double-row configuration, with various locking styles available to choose from.

Where Can FFC Be Used ?

Flexible Flat Cables (FFCs) are a variety of ribbon cable with a centralized structure. They have smooth connectors that do not require any special tools for installation. Typically, FFC cables comprise a plastic film with a series of metallic connectors known as “pitch.”

FFC cables occupy less space, are more flexible than round cables, and frequently offer greater EMI/RFI removal, along with the elimination of wire coupling issues. They are preferred in sophisticated electrical systems, especially when high flexibility is demanded, such as connections to a moving printer head, mobile phone wrapping, or situations with mass or space constraints.

In the electronic equipment market, a wide array of FFC cables is available for soldering and connecting with pitches of 0.5mm, 0.8mm, 1mm, 1.25mm, and 2.54mm. At our company, we offer an extensive range of FFC connectors to meet various pitch requirements, providing our valued customers with a diverse selection of FFC cables to choose from.

● Flexible Printed Cable (FPC Connector)

Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) connectors are used to connect the board to the flexible printed cable (FPC), which is a variant of Flexible Flat Cable (FFC) where the conductors are printed instead of embedded within the cable substrate. These types of connectors are also commonly referred to as ribbon connectors.

Types of FPC Connectors

In the field of Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) products, there are various types of FPC connectors available for different applications. Internal FPC connectors are among the product categories that are commonly used in the industry.

● 0.5mm pitch: Y5B series.

● Pitch of 0.2mm: Y2B series.

● Y3BL Series and Y3B/W Series have 0.3mm pitch.

Where Can FPC Be Used?

Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) connectors are extensively utilized in a wide range of significant and convenient applications, including wearable electronics and medical devices. The increasing use of Flexible Flat Cable (FFC)/FPC connectors in the automotive industry offers innovative features such as in-vehicle infotainment, bright lighting, driving autopilot modes like ADAS, and support for navigation and safety settings.

With the implementation of smart manufacturing and 5G technologies, FFC/FPC connections are exploring opportunities in a variety of next-generation applications. Our company, Jarnistech, offers high-performance, versatile, and dependable FPC solutions to cater to the needs of all emerging devices.

Micro flex connections with 1.00mm pitch and 0.50mm pitch are commonly employed in automotive, medical, communication, data, and commercial systems. Our ClincherTM and DuflexTM connectors are ideal for industrial and modulation applications where shock or vibration is a concern, such as industrial control systems, non-automotive transportation, and retail items.

Designers are fond of FFC/FPC connectors as they offer greater flexibility than standard rigid circuit boards when combined with flexible cable.

FPC Board Types

In the current market, a plethora of different flexible circuit boards are available, each designed to meet unique requirements, specifications, and applications. As PCB engineers, it is essential to be familiar with the various types of flexible circuit boards available to choose the appropriate board for a given project.

Flexible printed circuit boards are available in various types, including Single-Layer Flex, Double-Sided Flex, and Multilayer Flex, each designed to fit unique requirements and applications.

● Single-Layer Flex, being the most economical solution, comprises a polyimide or polymer dielectric conductor layer with metal on one side. It includes a polyimide cover to provide insulation and add to the board’s safety.

● Double-Sided Flex features two conductor layers on each dielectric layer, joined together via copper-plated holes. This type of flexible circuit offers greater design flexibility and is more cost-effective than multilayer flex.

● Multilayer Flex is designed with multiple conductor layers and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, these types of FPCs are more expensive to manufacture than single and double-layer flexible circuits, and hence are only utilized in applications that require more complex circuits.

What Is the Difference Between FFC and FPC?

Despite having a similar appearance, flatness, and data transmission capabilities, FFCs and FPCs are two different entities which are often confused.

● FFCs typically consist of straight-through conductors, and their pinouts are either 1 to1 or 1-n. In contrast, FPCs possess multiple-layered conductors that cross over one another, enabling them to have a wide variety of pinouts. Due to their impedance adjustment capability, FPCs are preferred for data cables like LVDS. Besides being rectangular, FPCs can also be designed with distinct bends and angles.

● The selection between an FFC and an FPC greatly depends on the intended application. As flex PCB layout designers, we are well-equipped to assess your particular requirements and guide you in selecting the optimal cable type.

Application Distinctions of FFC and FPC

● In the field of electronics, both FFC and FPC cables have a wide range of applications. FFC cables are commonly used in high-flex applications, and they have become an essential component in many modern electronic devices. FFC cables can be found in virtually all electronic equipment, including copiers, plotters, scanners, fax machines, audio systems, LCD appliances, and more.

● In contrast, FPC cables can be found in a diverse range of electronic devices, including antennas, audio devices, LCD TVs, cameras, laptops, printers, and aviation equipment. Over time, FPC cables have undergone significant improvements in terms of performance and quality, making them a preferred choice for a wide range of applications in the electronics industry.

Differences in Manufacturing Between FFC and FPC

Flexible Printed Circuit Connector

● Manufacturing: The manufacturing process of flexible flat wires differs significantly from that of flexible printed circuits. Flexible flat cables need to be coated with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and possess flat copper wires. Furthermore, two-layered wires lay the foil over the copper conductor. Comparatively, FPCs are produced by etching Flexible Copper Clad Laminate (FCCL), followed by coating multiple layers.

As a result of this approach, FFCs tend to be thicker than flexible printed circuits.

● Thickness: Compared to flexible printed circuits, FFCs are well-suited for various applications, as they can cater to compact spaces that require thicker cables. In applications where extreme environmental conditions are prevalent, FFC wires are commonly available in thicknesses ranging from 0.5mm to 2.54mm, offering greater durability and reliability. On the other hand, the measured thickness of FPC ranges from 0.15mm to 0.2mm, making it a more space-efficient option.

● Wiring: The wiring properties of FFC and FPC play a crucial role in enabling the transmission of data between different locations within an electronic device.

FFC wiring involves determining the optimal wire quantity and spacing for the intended application, including motherboards and mechanical components. This process helps to reduce production costs and the size of electronic gadgets while improving manufacturing efficiency.

In contrast, FPC wiring involves either etching a copper circuit or putting a thick polymer layer on the substrate. This wiring method is ideal for designing compact, thin, and lightweight electronics that require a one-sided circuit design or a multilayer 3D PCB. Using FPC wiring results in a 70% reduction in the volume and weight of the wiring installation compared to standard procedures. Furthermore, the increased strength of the supported parts contributes to improved stability. This wiring technique enables data communication between a PC’s hard disk and the main board.

 Unable to Replace One Another: In conclusion, FPC and FFC cannot be interchanged when it comes to connectivity and functionality because of their differing manufacturing processes. Additionally, their production strategies are classified, further complicating the possibility of substituting one for the other.

Flexible printed circuits are comparatively susceptible to external factors, whereas flexible flat cables feature excellent heat conductive materials, making both cable types suited for specific use cases.

Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the intended application thoroughly and determine which type of cable is best suited for the specific project’s requirements.

Different Connector Types of FPC and FFC

Two of the most commonly used types of FFC and FPC connectors are Low Insertion Force (LIF) and Zero Insertion Force (ZIF).

 LIF connectors offer a cost-effective and reliable solution that requires users to apply a gentle amount of force when inserting the connector into the slot. However, they have a shorter lifespan of up to 10 mating cycles, making them less durable than ZIF.

● ZIF connectors, on the other hand, offer a longer lifespan of up to 30 mating cycles for both flexible flat cables and flexible printed circuits. They also feature a mechanical slider that clicks into place above the cable after it is pressed into the insulator slot, providing additional stability and security.

Cost Comparison of FFC and FPC

When comparing costs between FFC and FPC, it is important to consider several factors. FFCs tend to be more cost-effective than FPCs because of their simpler manufacturing process, lower material usage, and reduced design complexity. However, for complex or high-density circuits, FPCs may offer better cost efficiency due to their higher circuit density and the ability to reduce the overall size of the electronic device, reducing materials and assembly costs.

It is also essential to consider the application’s specific requirements when evaluating the cost of either option. For example, if the application requires superior flexibility, an FFC may be a better option despite the higher costs. Similarly, if the application requires a higher density, more complex circuit design, even with the higher cost of production, FPCs may be the best choice.

Ultimately, the cost comparison between FFC and FPC depends on the specific requirements of each project. Working with a manufacturer to evaluate the requirements and weighing the benefits and costs of each option can help to determine the most cost-effective solution for the project.

FPC Connector

Which One Should You Choose?

The decision to use either FFC or FPC in a particular application is largely dependent on the specific requirements of that application. In general, FFCs are well-suited for simple interconnect solutions where flexibility is a primary concern, while FPCs are better suited for designing more complex and dense circuits. When making this decision, it is crucial to take into account various factors, including cost, flexibility, space constraints, signal speed and noise, and the environment in which the cables will be utilized. 

Therefore, as a manufacturer of both Flex and Rigid PCBs, JarnisTech recommends that our clients consult with their PCB design engineers or contact our manufacturing team to determine the best option that suits their individual requirements. Our team of experts can provide professional guidance and recommend the most appropriate solution based on our clients’ specific needs.

We understand that several factors need to be considered, including cost, flexibility, space limitations, signal speed, noise, and the intended operating environment, and we strive to ensure that our clients receive the most suitable product that meets their exact specifications.

Summary

The performance of FFC and FPC is influenced by some fundamental distinctions between the two. Each type enables diverse wiring layouts for specific purposes, such as connecting a hard disk to the motherboard for data transfer. Adequate space is required for the optimal functionality of both cable types in their respective settings. Additionally, differences in measured thickness should be considered to ensure the cables are used and fitted advantageously.

If you have any inquiries or concerns regarding FFC and FPC, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts is standing by to assist you with any questions you may have.

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