A Board Region is the term used to describe a user-defined area of the board that can have a unique layer stack assigned to it.
When a new board is created, it defaults to having a single board region - the outline of the board shape. If the board design requires multiple layer stacks, then you can split the single default board region into multiple regions, and assign a unique layer stack to each of those regions.
In the image below, the board shape has been divided into three distinct board regions: the upper circle, the center strip, and the lower circle. These regions have been created by placing the two horizontal dashed blue Split Lines. Note the orange dashed lines; these are bending lines since this rigid-flex design is going to be folded when it is assembled.
You divide a board into two regions by placing a split line. This is done with the PCB editor in Board Planning Mode.
To place a Split Line:
To move a Split Line:
To delete a Split Line:
Related article: Defining the Layer Stack
When a new board is created it will have a single region, named
Default Layer Stack Region. This region will be assigned the default layer stack named
Board Layer Stack.
When you split a board shape into multiple regions, each new region is also assigned the default layer stack. If the required layer stacks have been defined in the Layer Stack Manager, then each region can have its stack assigned and also can be given a meaningful name.
To assign a layer stack and name a region:
To define how a flex board should bend, you place one or more Bending Lines. The Bending Line defines where on the surface of the flex region that the bend is to take place. The Bending Line also defines the angle and radius of the bend as well as the width of the strip of board surface that is being bent. Bending Lines are placed and edited with the PCB editor in Board Planning Mode (View » Board Planning Mode, or press the 1 shortcut).
To place a Bending Line:
The PCB panel in Layer Stack Regions mode displays Bending Lines data. Double-click on an entry to open the Bending Line dialog.
To modify the location of an existing Bending Line:
When a Bending Line is moved, the handle will snap to locations on the current Snap Grid. As it is moved, it can also be snapped to existing design objects, such as lines on a mechanical layer. The image below shows a Bending Line handle being positioned on the end of a line on layer Mechanical 2 (highlighted by the number 1). Note that the mechanical layer must be the active design layer for the snap behavior to work.
To show the above process in more detail, the images below show the construction lines that have been placed on Mechanical 2 in 2D Layout Mode that accurately define upper and lower reference points that can be used to place a 45 degree Bending Line.
To delete a Bending Line, click and hold by one of its end points then press the Delete key.
Board regions, Split Lines and Bending Lines are examined and edited in Board Planning Mode (press 1). Bending Lines can be edited interactively in the workspace or they can be edited via the PCB panel when it is set to Layer Stack Regions mode. To display the panel, click the Panels button at the bottom-right of Altium Designer, then select PCB from the menu. In the panel, select Layer Stack Regions in the drop-down at the top of the panel.
To edit the properties of a Bending Line in the PCB panel:
Altium Designer includes a powerful 3D rendering engine that allows the presentation of a highly realistic three-dimensional representation of the loaded circuit board. This engine also supports rigid-flex circuits and when it is used in combination with the Fold State slider, it allows you to examine their rigid-flex design in the flat state, the fully folded state, and anywhere in between.
To switch to the 3D display mode, use the View » 3D Layout Mode command or press the 3 shortcut key (press 2 to return to 2D, or 1 to return to Board Planning Mode). The board will be displayed in 3D and if the component footprints include 3D Body objects that define the mounted component, these also will be displayed.
To apply the Bending Lines, slide the Fold State slider in the PCB panel when set to Layer Stack Regions mode. The bends are applied in the order defined by their Sequence number displayed in the PCB panel. Bending Lines can share the same sequence number; it means that those bends will be folded at the same time when the Fold State slider is used. The board can also be folded/unfolded by running the View » Fold/Unfold command (press the 5 shortcut).
Main article: 3D PCB Video
The ability to fold a rigid-flex design can also be captured as a 3D movie. It is simple to do and does not require the use of movie key frames during the folding sequence.
Refer to the main article referenced above for a detailed description of how to make a 3D movie. As a basic guide:
The video shown below was created using this process, it has the two key frames described above, plus one additional key frame that was added at the end to hold the final position for a second.
Altium Designer supports exporting a rigid-flex design as a 3D STEP file (File » Export » STEP 3D). This support includes being able to define the fold state during STEP export, which defaults to the current fold state configured in the PCB editor, as shown below.
In earlier versions of Altium Designer, when a rigid-flex board is included in a Multi-board assembly it would be in the flat, or unfolded state.
Now when a rigid-flex board is included in a multi-board assembly it is included in the fully folded state, to better model how it will be in the final assembly.
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