Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) Backlighting Options

Nov 16, 2021

Backlighting isn’t exclusive to rigid circuits. It’s available for flexible printed circuits (FPCs) as well. If you’re planning to buy an FPC, you may want to choose backlighting for it. FPCs, of course, are typically used in applications such as membrane switches and keypads. With backlighting, the keys on these devices will be illuminated.

While all forms of backlighting are designed to illuminate the top layer of the device with which they are used, some of them are more effective than others. For FPCs, there are several backlighting options from which you can choose. This post reveals some of the top backlighting options for FPCs.

Electroluminescent (EL)

You can choose EL backlighting for an FPC. EL backlighting leverages phosphor compounds to produce light. Like with other forms of backlighting, it still requires an electrical current. EL backlighting is simply distinguished from other forms of backlighting by its use of phosphor compounds.

How does EL backlighting work exactly? It consists of phosphor-coated wires. As electricity flows through these wires, it will produce light. The electrical current will excite the phosphor compounds, resulting in the production of light. EL backlighting is thin, energy efficient and easy to use, making it a popular choice for FPCs.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

Another common form of FPC backlighting is LED. LED isn’t used exclusively in backlighting applications. It’s used in a variety of lighting applications, including household and commercial light fixtures. Regardless, LED is a popular form of backlighting for FPCs.

LED backlighting consists of a semiconductor that’s powered by an electrical current. As electricity flows through the semiconductor, it will release photos outwards. Photons, of course, are light particles. LED lighting releases a narrow and concentrated stream of photos, resulting in bright light. Like EL backlighting, LED backlighting is available in small sizes; it’s energy efficient; and it’s easy to implement.

Light Guides

Whether you prefer EL or LED backlighting for an FPC, you may want to choose light guides as well. Light guides aren’t required. Nonetheless, they can improve the performance of EL and LED backlighting.

Light guides differ from EL and LED backlighting by distributing light rather than producing light. EL and LED backlighting will both produce light. Light guides, on the other hand, are designed to distribute light. You’ll still need a traditional backlighting solution for an FPC, such as EL or LED. With light guides, though, the light produced by the EL or LED backlighting solution will be evenly distributed across the top layer of the device.

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