Flexible printed circuitry (FPC) is a patterned array of conductors supported by a flexible dielectric film made of high strength polymer material such as polyimide. The flexibility of FPC provides an opportunity for three dimensional packaging, easy interconnections and dynamic applications. The polymeric core layer is the primary load bearing structure when the substrate is not supported by a rigid plate. In its composite structure, the conductive layers are more vulnerable to failure due to their lower flexibility compared to the core layer. Fatigue data on FPCs are not commonly available in published literature. Presented in this paper is the fatigue resistance and reliability assessment of polyimide based FPCs. Fatigue resistance of a specific material system was analyzed as a function of temperature and frequency through experiments that utilized a specially designed experimental setup consisting of sine servo controller, electrodynamic shaker, continuity monitor and temperature chamber. The fatigue characteristics of the selected material system are summarized in the form of S-N diagrams. Significant decrease in fatigue lifetime has been observed due to higher displacements in high cycle fatigue. Observed temperature effect was however counter-intuitive. Failure mechanisms are discussed and complete fracture analysis is presented. In various FPC systems, it has been found that the changes take place in FPC failure mechanisms from well-developed and aligned single cracks through the width at low temperature to an array of multiple cracks with random sizes and locations at high temperature.

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