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What is the Metal Core PCB Difference Between Aluminum PCB and Copper Base PCB?

What is the difference between Copper base PCB and Aluminum base PCB? MCPCB has a metal base with superior thermal conductivity and better heat dissipation. You can find both types of PCBs in any electronics store. Learn what makes them different and choose the best material for your project.

What is Aluminum PCB?

Before determining what an aluminum PCB is, we need to understand its main characteristics. These include Thermal conductivity, Dielectric layer, Electrical insulation, and flexibility. The following sections explain these qualities in greater detail. Read on to learn about the advantages of this material! Also, read about the benefits of insulating a PCB with aluminum.

Thermal conductivity

The thermal conductivity of aluminum PCBs varies according to the copper layer in the circuit. Different processes will result in different levels of thermal conductivity. Aluminum has poorer thermal conductivity than PCB board. Thermal conductivity also depends on the aluminum substrate and pad design. Copper foil and aluminum plates are typically laminated together to create a single board. The thermal conductivity of aluminum PCBs can vary remarkably. The following are some characteristics to consider when selecting an aluminum-based PCB:

Aluminum PCB Applications
Aluminum PCB Applications

The thermal conductivity of aluminum PCB is higher than that of copper. However, it is still not as high as copper. This is because aluminum is thinner than copper, and copper is much denser. Therefore, a thicker aluminum PCB will be more resistant to heat, while a thin aluminum one will have less resistance. These properties will reduce breakdown voltage, so aluminum PCBs should help low-voltage applications.

Aluminum PCBs have excellent electrical insulation and thermal conductivity. This means they can carry more current than other materials, including FR-4. In addition, because of their thermal conductivity, they can withstand higher temperatures than other materials. The thermal conductivity of aluminum PCBs enables Rayming PCB & Assembly to make more efficient electronic circuits. Moreover, aluminum PCBs can be more durable than FR-4, prone to damage.

Aluminum PCBs are often helpful in lighting and electrical devices. To extend its lifespan, make sure to store them in a dry, dark place. They can yellow or blacken due to moisture. The best way to store aluminum PCBs is to use them within 48 hours after removing them from their vacuum packaging. If you are unsure of what to do with your aluminum PCBs, consult with an experienced electrical engineer.

Dielectric layer

An aluminum PCB has an interior dielectric layer composed of a ceramic or thermally conductive material. A thermally conductive dielectric layer helps manage the heat in a project while keeping the temperature within specified limits. Typical thicknesses of dielectric layers range from 0.05 to 0.2 mm. In addition to the dielectric layer, an aluminum membrane layer protects the aluminum core and is crucial for the proper function of the IC.

A dielectric layer consists of copper or aluminum foil. Its thickness varies depending on the requirements. Copper-clad laminates generally have a copper base layer that is 50mm thick. The metal base layer is also thermally conductive. The aluminum base layer has high thermal conductivity and a copper foil layer that is 50 to 200mm thick.

An aluminum PCB with an insulating dielectric layer is excellent for several applications. These PCBs offer dimensional stability and are suitable for power device surface mount technology. Additionally, aluminum PCBs reduce the overall volume of the product. They also exhibit superior reliability. They can also help prolong the shelf life and increase its power density. And since aluminum is cheap, this material makes it a good choice for manufacturing power electronics products.

Electrical insulation

The insulating layer consists of electrolytic copper foil with a thickness of one to ten ounces. A ceramic polymer serves as a critical module of a PCB and has excellent thermal and viscoelastic properties. Therefore, copper foils, anywhere from one to ten ounces in weight, are in the insulating layer.

An aluminum PCB’s high-voltage test ensures its complete electrical insulation. It must pass a high voltage test that measures 100 percent of the printed board’s surface area. When a PCB fails a high voltage test, it will likely experience leakage, fire, or malfunction. Delamination and blistering of the aluminum base are defects in an aluminum PCB. As a result, you should ensure that your aluminum PCB passes these tests.

Metals are highly conductive, so it’s essential to protect your PCB from accidental conductivity. While it is a good conductor of heat, it also conducts electricity. In some situations, metal substrates are necessary because they can handle powerful electrical currents. However, this doesn’t mean that a PCB without any insulation will fail, even if it’s just slightly conductive. Ultimately, it’s essential to match the electrical insulation on your PCB with the environment in which you intend to use it.

In addition to aluminum PCBs, copper PCBs are another way to make thermally-efficient circuits. Copper-based PCBs work as a central core of a complex thermal structure. Still, aluminum is also an excellent choice for this application because it can provide outstanding electrical insulation and excellent thermal conductivity. The aluminum PCB’s copper-based circuit layers consist of a metal-based copper-clad laminate and excellent electrical insulation.

Flexibility

The process for manufacturing flexible aluminum PCB includes multiple thermally conductive dielectric materials. They connect to the circuitry layers using signal and thermal vias. They are also composed of ceramic filters and polyimide resin. This material provides high flexibility and remarkable thermal efficiency.

The flexibility of aluminum PCBs allows them to bend during installation. They are available in single, double, and multi-layer layouts. They are used to replace bulky wiring with superior gear. Flexible aluminum PCBs are also available with higher thermal performance.

The flexibility of aluminum PCB depends on its construction and conductive layers. It also depends on plated through holes for connection. The more flexible aluminum PCBs you order, the more money you’ll save. It’s also a great option if you have space constraints. If you have limited space, flexibility is essential for your device. It’s worth the extra cost. And it’s also a good option for many applications.

Applications

The use of aluminum PCBs has several benefits for circuit designers. Due to its increased thermal conductivity, it provides better electrical insulation. Its thin-film dielectric layer also helps to remove heat from the circuit. Copper foil is one of the primary components of aluminum PCB. Using this material is an environmentally friendly choice but requires proper expertise in the manufacturing process.

Another benefit of aluminum PCBs is that they are less susceptible to damage from moisture and heat. In the case of a cooling system, it can replace a ceramic substrate or a radiator component. Aluminum PCBs can also help in automobiles, audio equipment, and power supply devices. The power supply applications include switching regulators, DC/AC converters, and high-frequency amplifiers.

In addition to the advantages of aluminum PCB, it is also lightweight and low-cost. We can make it into various shapes and thicknesses according to the user’s needs. There are several types of aluminum PCB: through-hole, flexible, and multi-layer. They have their advantages and disadvantages. You should consider the pros and cons of aluminum PCBs before deciding.

What is Copper Base PCB?

Copper Base PCB

You may be wondering: What is copper base PCB? A PCB is an electronic circuit board containing copper as one of its constituent elements. There are different PCBs, and they all have their benefits and drawbacks. For this article, I will compare copper-based PCB and MCPCB. You’ll need to know the basic differences between the two types to do this.

MCPCB

The basic design of an MCPCB consists of a copper core, a thermal insulating layer, IC components, and a solder mask. This design is also a COB MCPCB or “Chip-On-Board” PCB. Copper is more expensive than aluminum, unlike aluminum PCB, making it an economical option for some applications.

MCPCBs have many advantages over other PCB types. First, MCPCBs does not require vias for thermal relief, which makes them ideal for high-heat applications. Second, MCPCBs require much less drilling than other PCBs, which only need a few large holes to mount components. Finally, these are also known to be more durable and withstand repeated mechanical shocks and thermal cycles.

Another advantage of MCPCB is that it allows for better etching. For example, we can etch Copper-based PCBs into a boss shape, which is excellent for pasting components. In addition, copper has a different modulus of elasticity than aluminum, making them more stable than aluminum PCBs. This is an essential advantage when comparing copper-based vs. aluminum-based PCBs.

MCPCBs are also cheaper than FR4 and aluminum-based PCBs. However, they require a higher level of precision and cost. Aluminum-based PCBs are less expensive than copper-based PCBs and are generally helpful in areas with high requirements. On the other hand, a copper-based PCB can handle temperatures as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Copper base PCB

If you’re planning to use a copper base PCB in your electronic device, it’s essential to know more about it before you order it. The term “copper base” can refer to any electronic board. While “copper” may not be the most familiar, it is an excellent option for electronic circuit boards.

Unlike the usual single-sided PCB, double-sided metal-core PCBs use a metal core between two conductors layers. The copper layer sits between the two conductor layers, with the metal core connected to the conductors through vias. Unlike the other two types, a copper-core PCB can withstand high temperatures.

Copper-based PCBs are the most expensive type of metal core PCB. They are also more expensive than their aluminum and iron-based counterparts. However, they perform better in heat conduction and thermal diffusivity and are ideal for high-frequency circuit design, high-heat-dissipation circuits, and high-precision communication equipment.

A copper-based PCB is also commonly known as an MCPCB. It’s a printed circuit board with a metal core and insulation layer. It has superior heat-dispersing properties and superior mechanical strength. Aluminum-based PCBs are more cost-effective than copper-based ones. Copper-based PCBs are often used in electronic communication equipment and LED lighting, among other things.

Compared to aluminum, copper has a higher conductivity rating than aluminum. In addition, its density makes it ideal for multiple-layer PCBs. On the other hand, aluminum is an excellent choice for single-layer PCBs but is less efficient for multi-layer PCBs. Besides, aluminum has a much lower carbon footprint than copper. Therefore, if you’re considering copper-based PCBs for your products, ensure you get a PCB with a heavy copper base.

MCPCB symmetry

We achieve the symmetry of MCPCB multiple set-ups containing a metal core by having similar-thickness layers over and beneath the board’s metal backing. A six-layer board, for example, would have three layers above and below the metal backing. In addition, it is essential to avoid the warpage or MCPCB LEDs. Additionally, plated through-holes are unnecessary because they can lead to electrical shorts and poor performance.

The copper PCB is often embedded with other circuitry to improve performance and reliability. For example, electronic device manufacturers use MCPCBs with copper cores. The copper track between components makes it possible to fit the PCB in a small device. This type of PCB is more expensive than those with aluminum cores, but they are also stronger and more reliable.

The metal base layer helps dissipate heat and enables the copper foil to create the desired pattern. Copper base PCBs are the most expensive type of MCPCB and use copper substrate core technology. Therefore, the copper base PCB is the costliest type of MCPCB, but it has the highest thermal conductivity.

To design an MCPCB, you must know how copper conducts electricity and heat. To achieve this, you must have a high-density copper foil at least 35mm thick. Copper foil with low conductivity will cause a short and will have to be isolated from the copper base.

While a metal core PCB has a metal core and insulation layer, the metal base PCB is not much different from a CEM3 or FR4 board. However, it has a metal copper film core in the middle or on the back, which can divert heat away from the heat-sensitive parts of the PCB. It also has better processing capabilities compared to other types of PCB.

Aluminum PCB VS Copper base PCB

What is the difference between an Aluminum PCB and a Metal Core PCB? A PCB made with a Metal Core is a higher quality version. For this type of PCB, the main substrate board consists of a Metal Core. It also contains a copper layer. However, unlike an Aluminum PCB, a Metal Core PCB does not receive any surface finish or solder mask.

Copper printed circuit boards are used in high-power rectifiers and pumping plants to ensure high power. Their superior electrical and thermal conductivity makes them suitable for the smallest electronic devices. While copper printed circuit boards have many advantages over aluminum, they still need a copper base for a few important reasons. Copper PCBs are also more expensive than aluminum and iron PCBs.

Prototyping a Metal Core PCB is like prototyping and Aluminum PCB. The basic process of prototyping starts with a design software suit. When you decide to use a PCB manufacturer, you should know the software they use for prototyping. Metal Core PCB manufacturers should also know which software they use for prototyping.

The difference between Copper and Aluminum PCBs is most evident in how copper has higher thermal conductivity and is, therefore, more suitable for single-layer PCBs. On the other hand, aluminum is much more difficult to manufacture for multiple-layer PCBs. Therefore, copper is the ideal metal for multiple layers. In addition to being lighter, aluminum is also better for environmentally friendly reasons.

MCPCB has a metal base

The term “Metal Core PCB” refers to the base material. The main substrate board is composed of a metal core. A metal mask is applied to the board before the soldering process begins. The solder mask includes a copper base and black and clear printed circuit boards.

A prototype of a metal core printed circuit board is a lot like a typical PCB. It requires a metal base and must adhere to certain guidelines. The final figure of the circuit board should resemble the design. Different design software is ideal for this purpose. For example, OrCAD, Altium Designer, KiCAD, Eagle, and KiCAD are popular choices. Once the design is complete, designers export schematics to the PCB manufacturer. Gerber is an essential tool for forwarding schematics because it preserves the aesthetic appeal of the PCB.

The base of a Metal Core PCB serves as a heat sink, transferring heat away from critical components. Different metals can be the base of a PCB. Aluminum is the most common, but copper is the best for performance, although it is also the most expensive. The base is typically 1 to 4 mm thick, depending on the customer’s requirements. This layer is often the first layer of a PCB.

Metal Core PCBs are ideal for high-temperature applications, such as amplifiers and solid-state relays. Because metal is thermally conductive, it helps dissipate heat efficiently, ensuring that the device’s life span and performance remain high. In this way, the metal core PCB is perfect for these high-temperature conditions. And unlike the FR-4, the MCPCB can withstand the highest temperatures in the market.

MCPCB has excellent heat dissipation

In electronics, thermal management is an important consideration. Temperatures that exceed the acceptable range can cause physical destruction and system failure. Metalcore PCBs are ideal for applications requiring high thermal dissipation. This type of PCB has several advantages. Its high thermal conductivity, 1.6 mm thickness, and 270 mm2 board size make it a better choice for many applications.

Due to their superior heat dissipation, metal core PCBs are helpful in various applications. They are particularly suited for power electronic devices, such as high-drain-current MOSFETs, switching supply circuits, and LED light circuits. Metalcore PCBs have a basic configuration of conductive layers that facilitate heat dissipation.

The process for producing an MCPCB is like the standard FR4 PCB. The only difference is the material used for the layers. For example, FR4 is a very strong material. Therefore, an MCPCB has excellent heat dissipation properties despite its high density. Moreover, MCPCBs does not require vias, leading to shorts or other problems.

The main applications of Metal Core PCBs include solid-state relays, LED lighting, and motor control in electric vehicles. Metal PCBs are ideal for applications that generate heat. They also perform better than traditional FR-4 substrates for fast cooling. The most used metal layer is aluminum, which is very conductive. Aluminum is also non-toxic, recyclable, and possesses a high thermal conductivity.

It has a better thermal conductivity

There are many advantages to a Metal Core PCB. It is known for its better thermal conductivity, and it can redirect heat away from electronic components. It is one of the best PCB substrates, and its superior thermal conductivity makes it an excellent choice for many electronics. Aluminum is one of the most used metals used for PCBs. Copper and aluminum both offer better thermal conductivity than FR-4.

Metalcore PCBs are helpful in applications that generate enormous heat and cannot be cooled using conventional fans. They are used to achieve high illumination with fewer requirements than traditional LEDs. They are also helpful in military and aerospace applications, which must withstand thermal cycling and repeat mechanical shocks. This makes them the perfect choice for such demanding uses. Furthermore, MCPCBs are more durable than normal PCBs, susceptible to damage due to heat and moisture.

Different manufacturers fabricate their boards differently for Metal Core PCBs. For example, a simple one-layer MCPCB has a copper circuit layer at the top, a thermally conductive dielectric layer underneath, and a metal core base layer. The fabricator then assembles these three layers. The copper and aluminum layers provide an efficient path for heat from electronic components to reach the circuit board.

High-power components produce a large amount of heat, making it necessary to transfer the heat as fast as possible. Hence, metal core PCBs are popular in the power supply and converter industry, LED lighting systems, and automotive systems. In addition, they are better suited to resist heat transfer than FR-4 PCBs, preventing damage to the circuit and components. For these reasons, it is essential to make sure that the PCB you use has an excellent thermal conductivity rating, as this will increase the life of your product.

It has a symmetrical stack-up

When designing a metal core PCB, it is essential to follow several design guidelines. As its name suggests, a metal core is a layer of metal attached to the back of a PCB. Usually, this layer is made of aluminum, although copper and stainless steel are also possible materials.

When designing a metal core PCB, it is essential to avoid plated through holes. As these holes can short circuits, isolating the metal layer from the plated through-hole is essential. A hole in the metal core is drilled 40 to 50 mils larger than the plated through-hole component, filling it with a non-conductive epoxy filler.

The conductive layers in the PCB stack-up are in an alternating pattern, with the top-most conductive layer 102A positioned above the bottom-most prepreg layer 104G. The same applies to the insulating layers. As a result, the stack-up is symmetrical, and the structure of the PCB is also symmetrical.