Over the past few years, the flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) market has grown considerably. By the end of 2025, the flexible PCB sector is projected to have grown at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of over 11.2% since 2019, meaning the market will be sitting at a staggering 26.8 billion USD.
This growth has primarily been driven by increasing demand for the compact electronic devices we use every day, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and wearable technology like smartwatches. The rapidly progressing IT and telecoms sectors and heightened demand for high-speed data processing are also pushing the need for flexible circuits.
But flexible PCBs are not just for smartphones and wearable technology. Flexible circuits can be found in a broad range of applications, including anything from navigation displays in cars to medical such as ventilators and defibrillators. They can even be found inside the body in devices like pacemakers and cochlear implants!
Let us take a closer look at some of the benefits of these modern PCBs and where else you might find them…
As the name suggests, flexible PCBs can be bent and flexed into small or irregular-shaped spaces, allowing for greater freedom in design.
Because flexible circuits often have fewer connectors, it means they also take up less physical space and add less weight to each product — perfect for use in cars and sensors, as well as industrial devices where reduced space and minimal weight are critical to optimum performance.
Factors like reliability and durability are also increasing the adoption of flexible PCBs. Thanks to the reduced number of connectors and the lightweight, malleable nature of these circuit boards, they can easily absorb vibrations with minimal impact on any internal components. Some flexible PCBs are even durable enough to endure 200,000 bending cycles!
As well as their resistance to vibration, flexible circuits are also resistant to extreme temperatures, corrosion and exposure to moisture — making them ideal for use in the harsh environments or challenging conditions frequently experienced in the medical, automotive, industrial and transportation sectors.
If required, parts of a flexible printed circuit board can also be strengthened with a stiffening substrate to increase the reliability of these sections. This process is beneficial in applications where the circuits are subjected to continuous vibrations and mechanical stress, for example, in off-road vehicles or construction equipment.
Reduced component and assembly costs
Although rigid printed circuit boards typically cost less to manufacture than flexible ones (which require various specialist process equipment such as vacuum lamination presses), there are some cost savings to be found with flexible circuits.
Because flexible PCBs typically use fewer cables, connectors, wire harnesses and overall parts, they often take less time to manufacture and install. This can prove to be very cost-effective in some cases — both in terms of components and assembly costs.
Fewer parts also mean less maintenance, which is valuable in remote devices such as those used in the marine sector or oil, gas and water industry.
Choosing the right PCB
As OEMs become increasingly aware of flexible printed circuit boards, their benefits and applications, we are likely to see the market go from strength to strength.
The continued progression and development of the technology behind these PCB assemblies allows electronics manufacturing services providers to integrate them into new and exciting applications in a way that has not been seen before with traditional rigid PCBs.
However, it is crucial to remember that flexible PCBs cannot replace rigid circuit boards for all applications. As such, it is essential to consider the final product, how it will be used and where before choosing the most appropriate type of PCB.
At EC Electronics, we work with you to recommend the best electronics manufacturing solution and most suitable components and sub-assemblies for your project requirements. If you have any questions about any upcoming projects, please get in touch with our team, who would be happy to advise you.