FPCs Supporting Japan’s Electronics Industry Behind the Scenes
Meeting the Needs of the Times and Looking Ahead to the Future
As the name implies, a flexible printed circuit (FPC*) is a flexible circuit wiring material that can be freely bent and deformed. Its characteristics of lightness, thinness, and flexibility have greatly contributed to the development of smaller, lighter, and thinner electronic devices. Since FPCs have excellent heat resistance, it is possible to mount electronic components on them by reflow soldering, and due to their resistance to repeated bending, they are an indispensable wiring material for the moving parts of electronic equipment. FPCs also contribute to increasing design flexibility and functionality because they occupy less space inside the device. Taking advantage of these features, FPCs are used for a broad range of applications, such as wiring in smartphones and digital cameras, as well as wiring for the moving parts of optical drives. FPCs are one of the key products that have been supporting the evolution of electronic devices and the growth of the Japanese economy.
The Sumitomo Electric Group began research and development of FPCs in the mid-1960s ahead of other companies in Japan, and started its FPC business in 1969. Since then, the group has been providing products that meet the market needs of the times, and in the 2000s, in response to the need for lighter, thinner, shorter, smaller, and more sophisticated electronic devices, it developed fine pitch FPCs, or ultra-fine circuits, which accelerated the evolution of FPCs. And now, the FPC business is at another major turning point: the shift from wiring materials to functional parts. Now, more than half a century after the start of the business, the Sumitomo Electric Group has started to develop a new generation of FPCs.
* A wiring material made by forming electric circuits of copper foil on FPC products used in a smartphone an ultra-thin insulating film