Metal Core Printed Circuit Boards (MCPCBs) have become an increasingly popular option for power electronics applications that require efficient heat dissipation. Unlike traditional FR4 PCBs, MCPCBs have a metal base material, usually aluminum, as the core layer that provides superior thermal conductivity. This makes MCPCBs ideal for high power applications, such as LED lighting, power supplies, and power converters, where efficient heat management is crucial for long-term reliability and performance. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of MCPCBs and the factors to consider when selecting a MCPCB solution for your application.
Table of Contents
1. What Is a MCPCB?
MCPCBs have a thermal conductivity that is between 5 and 10 times higher than that of traditional FR-4 epoxy glass-based PCBs, and they also have a thickness that is between 5 and 10 times lower than that of conventional architectures. This allows metallic PCBs to dissipate heat more efficiently. Because of the very effective transmission of thermal energy, metal printed circuit boards may employ very thin layers of copper, which helps to cut down on both prices and the overall thickness of the solution. Metal printed circuit boards are made up of three layers: a dielectric layer that can provide high thermal conductivity (and, as a result, high dissipation), a metal layer, and a copper film that has a high heat dissipation capacity and is used for circuit lithography because of its mechanical strength. Aluminum and copper are the two materials that are utilized most frequently in the process of metal layer manufacturing; however, under some circumstances, stainless steel may also be utilized. Copper has better performance and electrical qualities than aluminum, but its price is significantly more than that of aluminum. It is possible for the metal layer to be made up wholly of metal, or it may be made up of both metal and fiberglass (FR-4). After then, metallic printed circuit boards can be either single-sided or double-sided, but the multilayer version is not as commonly used since it is more difficult to manufacture. In the case of a multilayer MCPCB, the layers must be evenly distributed about the inner metal layer. For instance, in a PCB that has 12 layers, the metal layer would be positioned in the middle of the stack-up, with 6 layers above and 6 levels below it.
1.1 Applications of MCPCB
LED illumination, motor control in electric and hybrid vehicles, power supply, converters, voltage regulators, are only some of the primary uses for MCPCBs. In a broader sense, this technology is appropriate for use in applications that call for a significant amount of energy and, as a result, produce a significant amount of heat. If the printed circuit board needs rapid cooling, the typical FR-4 substrate should be replaced with a metal PCB instead.
Metal Core PCBs (MCPCBs) are commonly used in a variety of high power electronics applications, including:
- LED Lighting: MCPCBs are used to improve the efficiency and lifespan of high power LED lighting systems. The metal core provides better thermal conductivity, allowing heat to be efficiently dissipated from the LED chips, reducing thermal stress and increasing the reliability of the lighting system.
- Power Supplies: High-power power supplies generate significant heat, which can impact their performance and longevity. MCPCBs provide a solution to this by efficiently dissipating heat away from the power supply components, improving their reliability and performance.
- Power Converters: Power converters, such as DC-DC converters, generate heat during voltage conversion. MCPCBs provide a solution to this by efficiently dissipating heat away from the converter components, improving their reliability and performance.
- Automotive Electronics: Electric vehicle powertrains and other automotive electronics generate significant heat, which can impact their performance and longevity. MCPCBs provide a solution to this by efficiently dissipating heat away from the components, improving their reliability and performance.
- Telecom Equipment: High power radio frequency (RF) electronics generate significant heat, which can impact their performance and longevity. MCPCBs provide a solution to this by efficiently dissipating heat away from the components, improving their reliability and performance.
- Industrial Electronics: High power industrial electronics, such as motor drives and control systems, generate significant heat, which can impact their performance and longevity. MCPCBs provide a solution to this by efficiently dissipating heat away from the components, improving their reliability and performance.
Other applications, such motion control and solar panel applications, are excellent for incorporating MCPCBs. The primary usage of MCPCB is in high-temperature electrical goods or in applications requiring heat dissipation, such as LEDs, high-power electric lights, etc., in addition to power supply equipment, audio equipment, cars, and other applications.
2. Core Materials for MCPCB
Aluminum, copper, and steel alloys are all possible metal core materials for thermal PCBs. Aluminum is utilized the most frequently because it has high heat-dissipating qualities and is less expensive than copper. Copper, on the other hand, is said to perform better. Three materials used to create these circuit boards are as follows:
2.1 Aluminum Base
The aluminum PCB has strong heat transfer and heat dissipation capabilities. Aluminum core PCBs are frequently utilized in LED devices since they are lightweight as well. Aluminum substance is economical.
2.2 Copper Base
A copper core board performs better than an aluminum one. Although copper is more expensive than aluminum, buyers typically pick aluminum instead. The copper also weighs more than aluminum and requires a more difficult milling procedure.
2.3 Steel Alloy Base
Compared to the other two materials described above, steel alloys are more robust but have a lesser heat conductivity.
Each material has advantages and disadvantages of its own, and the choice of material is solely based on the application. ELE PCB is renowned for offering the highest caliber metal core PCBs.
3. Types of MCPCBs
MCPCB types are broken down in to single to multilayered PCBs. There types are discussed below.
3.1 Single layer Metal Core PCBs
A single, thin layer of thermally conductive but electrically insulating dielectric material is laminated with copper to create single layer metal core PCBs. It is made up of an aluminum or copper alloy metal base, a dielectric layer, and a copper conductor layer. The copper coating might be anything between 1 and 20 ounces thick. Due to the high thermal conductivity of single layer PCB, created heat may be transferred quickly and efficiently. Single layer MCPCB is suitable for straightforward, low-density designs.
3.2 Double-sided Metal Core PCBs
The use of double-sided Metal Core PCBs is widespread in high-tech applications. Both manufacturing circuits and circuit prototypes use these PCBs. On a typical printed circuit board, a metal layer is positioned over a non-conductive substrate. However, the bottom of the substrate has an additional metal layer on the double-sided MPCBs. Modern electronic applications frequently require double-sided MPCBs, which ELE PCB designs and produces. We have a competitive advantage over our rivals due to our mix of technological know-how and industrial experience.
4. Advantages Of MCPCB
Metal PCBs provide superior capacitive coupling, increased power density, and strong electromagnetic shielding in addition to efficient thermal dissipation. Thermal vias, which are used in conventional PCBs, can further enhance thermal performance. Here are the top five advantages of this technology.
- Thermal Dissipation
One PCB alternative with a higher heat conductivity is MCPCBs. They avoid potential circuit damage and can manage high density circuits with higher power levels by keeping the heat as far away from the power components as feasible. One of the most popular materials for this kind of substrate is aluminum because, in addition to having good electrical qualities, it is also affordable and recyclable. Compared to PCBs constructed with FR-4, metal core PCBs transfer heat 8 to 9 times faster. To establish the shortest path from the heat source to the supporting metal plate, the dielectric layer must be extremely thin. It typically has a thickness of between 0.003 and 0.006 inches. A test on an MCPCB with an integrated 1W LED, for instance, revealed that its temperature stayed very near to the ambient temperature of 25°C, although the same power LED installed on a FR-4 board attained a temperature that was 12°C higher than the ambient one.
- Better Strength and stability
Concerns about heat dissipation have been highlighted by the recent and rapid growth of LED technology, particularly with high power LED lights. The circuit may have stability and reliability issues as a result of these LEDs because they are typically positioned directly on the PCB. Heat dissipation can impair the operation of electronics that use a lot of power if the proper technique is not used. This issue is successfully resolved in these applications by the use of metal PCBs. Aluminum adds strength and resistance to the printed circuit board without adding weight, and it also ensures a high level of longevity.
- Dimensional Stability
As external circumstances change, the size of a printed circuit board made of metal will remain more stable than one made of a more conventional material, like FR-4. PCBs containing metal layers (such as aluminum) have had a relatively slight size variation, ranging from 2.5% to 3.0%, when heated between 30°C to 150°C.
- Lower Weight and Higher Recyclability
PCBs with metal substrates are more conductive, more durable, and lighter than conventional PCBs constructed of epoxy materials. They are also more environmentally beneficial because the metals they employ, like aluminum, are non-toxic and simple to recycle. Aluminum is significantly less expensive than other metals since it is fairly simple to mine and refine. As a result, it is possible to lower the price of producing PCBs using substrates made of aluminum. A less expensive option to more expensive and large heat sinks is aluminum PCBs. Unbelievably, aluminum is a completely recyclable and non-toxic metal. Aluminum utilization in metallic PBCs aids in protecting the environment along the supply chain from producer to final customer.
- Longer Lifetime
Compared to materials like ceramic and fiberglass that are frequently used in the production of PCBs, aluminum offers superior strength and longevity. It is a very strong metal that might lower the danger of unintentional breakage that might happen during different production phases, during assembly, or during typical use of the finished product. Examples of aluminum PCBs used in LED lighting applications are shown in Figure 2.
ELE PCB is able to fulfil all of your needs for MCPCBs, beginning with the prototype phase and continuing all the way through the production process. Because of our knowledge and experience in the field of manufacturing multilayer printed circuit boards, we hold a significant advantage over our competitors in the industry of generating printed circuit boards. In addition, we never promise a price that is greater than the prices offered by our rivals, and we never require customers to buy a certain minimum amount of any product with each order that they place.
5. ELE Technology Co. The Leading PCB Manufacturer
Prototyping printed circuit boards (PCBs) is a useful technique for designers since it helps save time and money while guaranteeing a high-quality result. Get in touch with ELE Limited right away if you need PCB prototype services for an upcoming venture.
Over 6,000 engineers and 300 contract assemblers from across the world rely on ELE PCB for their PCB prototype services. We pride ourselves on our dedication to quality and our ability to consistently provide fully functional prototypes that meet or exceed your requirements. Whether you need a simple two-sided FR4 board or a very complicated multi-layered prototype, our PCB design professionals have you covered. Your prototype may be provided by ELE PCB promptly, proficiently, and cheaply, with no hidden expenses.
Our method is straightforward; we utilize CAD software to plan the layout of the prototype, select the manufacturing material, and then cut and assemble the board. After that, the circuit board is complete and ready for testing. And when the time comes, we’ll assist you in making the jump from prototype to production.
ELE PCB is here to assist you if you’re in the market for professional PCB prototype services. Get in touch with us now and talk to a member of our service team about your PCB prototyping needs and how ELE PCB can fulfill them.
ELE MCPCB Fabrication CAPABILITIES
|Maximum Panel size||1500mm*560mm|
|Copper thickness||0.5oz, 1oz, 2oz, 3oz|
|Substrate Core Thickness||0.4mm, 0.6mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm, 1.2mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm, 3.0mm, 3.2mm|
|Finished Board Thickness||0.4mm To 5.0mm|
|Copper foil thickness||35um~240um (1OZ~7OZ)|
|Min. line width/space||4mil/4mil (0.1mm/0.1mm)|
|Thickness Tolerance||+/- 10%|
|Min. Finish hole size||0.2mm|
|Hole position tolerance||(+/-)0.076mm|
|Max. working voltage||2.5k VDC (0.075mm Dielectric) 3.75k VDC (0.15mm Dielectric)|
|Aluminum Machining||Drilling, Tapping, Milling, Routing, Die-Punching, break-off tab available|
|Profile tolerance||Routing outline tolerance: +/-0.13mm;|
|Punching outline tolerance: +/-0.1mm|
|Surface Finishing||HASL, HASL Lead free, Immersion gold (Silver Tin), OSP|
|Solder mask color||White, LED light special White, Black, MATT Black, others Available|
|Legend color||Black, White, others Available|
|Test||Flying probe E-test; Fixture E-test;|
|Certification||SGS; ISO9001; UL(E337137); ROHS; TS16949|