Mentor extends rigid-flex & high-speed PCB design in Xpedition

August 16, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Mentor Graphics has announced the first phase of its Xpedition printed circuit design flow to address the increasing complexity of today’s advanced systems designs. The Xpedition flow provides advanced technologies to enable design and verification of 3D rigid-flex structures, and to automate layout of high-speed topologies with advanced constraints.

Flex and rigid-flex PCBs, mentor comments, are now found in all types of electronics products, from small consumer devices to aerospace, defence and automotive electronics. The Xpedition rigid-flex technology enables a streamlined design process from initial stack-up creation through manufacturing.


Engineers can design complex rigid and flex PCBs in a fully supported 3D environment (3D design and verification—not just a 3D view), resulting in a correct-by-construction methodology for optimum reliability and product quality. 3D verification ensures that bends are in the right position, and elements on the board do not interfere with folding; this can be reviewed early in the design stage to prevent costly redesigns. Users can then export a 3D solid model to MCAD for efficient bi-directional PCB-enclosure co-design.

Integration with Mentor’s HyperLynx high-speed analysis technology enables optimization of signal and power integrity across complex rigid-flex stack-up structures. For fabrication preparation, the Xpedition flow provides all flex and rigid information using the ODB++ common data format. This methodology eliminates data ambiguities by clearly communicating the finished board intent to the fabricator.


“Mentor’s Xpedition flow provides multiple board outlines, stack-ups, and bend areas which allow us to define a rigid flex within the design environment, and export a folded 3D step model for efficient mechanical design integration,” stated Charles Ietswaard, PCB design engineer at NIKHEF, the national institute for sub-atomic physics in The Netherlands. “The automated rigid-flex capabilities in Xpedition help us manage the growing complexities of today’s advanced PCB systems.”


For efficient rigid-flex development, key features and capabilities include:

- Definition of the rigid-flex stack-up with unique outlines for each region, enabling simpler design changes than stack-up by zone. Standard flex materials (e.g. laminates, ‘embedded’ or ‘bikini’ cover layers, stiffeners, adhesives, etc.) can be included in the stack-up.

- Full support of flex bends to manage where and how the PCB bends, including parts placement on flex layers, flex routing, plane shape fills, tear drops