OKI launches stretchable flexible printed circuits


Oki Electric Cable Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan), an OKI Group company specialising in electric cables, announced the launch of its stretchable flexible printed circuits, "Stretchable FPC." The product is part of the new Oki Electric Cable product line-up introduced in June 2019.

The astonishing technological advances and the growing sophistication of electronic devices in recent years have generated demand for new characteristics in the flexible printed circuits (FPCs) used as wiring materials.

The requirements for wiring materials found in clothing-type wearable devices include the ability to mount functional parts, in addition to light weight, thin profile, and the flexibility needed to ensure comfort when worn. Furthermore, these materials must offer the elasticity needed to accommodate the various movements of the human body. Existing FPCs offer light weight, thin profile, flexibility, and mountability, but lack elasticity.

The newly launched Stretchable FPC offers elasticity by replacing the polyimide widely used in existing FPCs with an elastic substrate. This elastic substrate can be stretched repeatedly, like rubber, and is heat-resistant, allowing components to be solder-mounted. Its circuit conductor incorporates the same copper wiring as existing FPCs but the wiring method is specially designed to allow it to work with the stretchable substrate. The use of copper wiring minimises variations in conductor resistance due to FPC expansion or contraction, allowing use of the FPC as a sensor. Potential applications for the Stretchable FPC include use as a wearable sensor to help diagnose disease in the chest; the Stretchable FPC is wrapped around the chest to measure signal fluctuations in the copper wiring.

By combining elasticity with the existing characteristics of FPCs, the Stretchable FPC can be used as elastic wiring material in wearable devices and will contribute to the ever-growing sophistication of electronic devices. Oki Electric Cable wants to continue to proactively develop new products to meet constantly diversifying customer needs.

Caption: Stretchable FPC (photo: OKI)

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