Metal Core PCBs

A simple blog about all things related to metal core PCBs and metal core PCB fabrication including LEDs, PCB materials and suppliers.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Back to Basics: What is a Printed Circuit Board?

Let's discuss some basics of PCBs and their components.

Printed Circuit Board

Printed Circuit Board Uses
We use PCBs everyday, whether you realize it or not. They're used in medical devices, automobiles, flashlights, mobile phones, defense systems, computers and so much more. Literally, everything that is "electronically alive" probably has a PCB in it.

What is a PCB?
It is a board of non-conductive material, either glass or plastic, that has electrically conductive patterns printed onto it, using either copper metal or India ink. In the case of metal core boards, this pattern uses an aluminum core, copper core or a combination of substrates. India ink, in comparison, is low in conductivity.

The electrically conductive portion of the board supplies an electrical current to various components on the circuit board that are attached during the PCB assembly process. The electrical components of the board control the rate of flow and the behavior of the electrical current.

Printing Methods: Etching & Silkscreen Printing
A substrate is a material that does not conduct electricity. A PCB is a substrate that has a electrically conductive pattern printed on it. The pattern dictates the flow of electrons and is etched onto the bare circuit board.

The etching process begins with cutting copper sheet metal to the same size as the substrate. Epoxy is used on the board to bind the conductive portion to the board then an etching machine cuts the desired pattern in the copper sheet, leaving a pattern on the substrate.

Silkscreen Printing can also be used to print on the boards. With this method a silkscreen printer prints onto the board with an electrically conductive ink.

Components & PCB Assembly
PCB Assembly
or PCBA is the process of attaching or embedding components onto the printed board. Common components are diodes, resistors, heat syncs (for high heat applications; common with metal core boards) and magnets.

Leads are common and important on assembled PCBs as they act as the connection between the board and another electronic device.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Metal Core PCB Demand on the Rise

The demand for LED products and LED applications has been steadily on the rise, in reports from Taiwan.

Taiwan manufacturers have reported that LED applications, primarily LED panels, are in greater demand and steadily increasing.

This will surely increase the demands and technology for metal core printed circuit boards and interconnects for the boards.

Friday, May 20, 2011

LED Circuit Boards

LED lights are primarily connected through the circuit board for display in many applications.

These boards can be custom done flex PCBs or standard FR4 rigid boards. Flex boards are often used to get the lights in the correct positioning as they can be adjusted during the bending and flexing process to fit virtually any design shape.

Modern LEDs, in general, are assembled to the board using surface mount technology, or SMT. The LEDs as well as all other SMT components are bonded directly to the pads so no holes are required in the circuit board.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Metal Core Boards - Thermal Conductivity

Thermal conductivity is the ability materials or a material that reports its ability to conduct heat. In terms of MCPCB, heat conductivity refers to how the metal core reacts to heat and which levels of heat.

Thermal conductivity is calculated by the amount of heat transmitted over a certain period of time through thickness in a direction along the surface of an area as a result of temperature differences. Controlled conditions are maintained for the calculation and the heat transfer depends only on the temperature gradient/change.

The thermal conductivity of the metal core has been represented as the symbol K. A more common and modern symbol for it is the Greek lambda, used extensively in Fourier's Law.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Metal Core Basics

Metal Core Boards use a base metal material to spread heat across the circuit board.

Metal core is used in high-heat creating environments, including LED, power and motion based applications.

The core used is usually an aluminum core or copper core.
It can also be composed of special alloys.

Plate thickness generally ranges from 30 to 125 mil, while the copper foil thickness can be 1-10 mil.

MCPCBs can transfer and dissipate heat many times faster than regular FR4 boards. This improved thermal management helps to extend the life and quality of use of many products.