The use of flexible substrates is growing in many applications such as computer peripherals, hand held devices, telecommunications, automotive, aerospace, etc. The drive to adopt flexible circuits is due to their ability to reduce size, weight, assembly time and cost of the final product. They also accommodate flexibility by allowing relative movement between component parts and provide a route for three dimensional packaging. This paper will describe some of the current research results from the Flex-No-Lead project, a European Commission sponsored research program. The principle aim of this project is to investigate the processing, performance, and reliability of flexible substrates when subjected to new environmentally friendly, lead-free soldering technologies. This paper will discuss the impact of specific design variables on performance and reliability. In particular the paper will focus on copper track designs, substrate material, dielectric material and solder-mask defined joints.

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