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Plastic Flex Circuitry in Aerospace?

Posted by: Dane Jaret - Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:56 pm
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Plastic Flex Circuitry in Aerospace? 
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Post Plastic Flex Circuitry in Aerospace?   Posted on: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:56 pm
Does anyone know if this is being used much in the aerospace industry? It seems like it offers a lot of useful benefits that are applicable to spacecraft design. Space, weight, robustness, design flexibility, cost (potentially)...

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Post Interesting - USE WITH CARE - (but not low cost)   Posted on: Fri Jul 22, 2005 1:07 am
Flex circuits are being used in the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System) helmet mounted display planned for use in a number of military aircraft. They are well stabilized and look like they could be reliable. It is an interesting, multilayer application of this circuit technology. One set of three conductor layers is even structured to provide a short length of shielded (coax) signal connection.

I have some experience with the flex circuits in the F-15 ANMI CRT display unit. These flex circuits are poorly stabilized (and therefore flex a lot). They are a serious weak point in the design and very prone to both open circuit and short circuit failures. Step one, in all depot testing of this unit, is to open the case (a difficult operation which itself puts great stress on the flex circuits) and look for BURNED FLEX CIRCUITS. Powering up a unit under test before visual inspection of these circuits is considered to risk total destruction.

The large and frequent dynamic forces in aerospace vehicles create serious fatigue failure problems for anything not well secured and allowed to flex more than a little bit. Thus Flex Circuits are interesting (and can prevent damaging stress buildup), but must be used with great care. Their low mass is of course attractive.


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