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Applications, Benefits, and Thermal Management Process of IMS PCB

The type of material used in fabricating a printed circuit board determines its performance and quality. In some cases, PCBs are usually subjected to large mechanical loads or extreme temperatures. Therefore, these boards require the use of materials that withstand these parameters. Dissipation of heat, component failure, and more are major concerns in PCB manufacturing.

The utilization of IMS PCB in circuits offers a special and effective method of heat dissipation for components. Also, this circuit board easily spreads heat produced by components like transistors and LEDs. IMS PCBs feature several benefits and properties. Keep reading this article if you want to know more about IMS PCBs.

What is an IMS PCB?

IMS refers to insulated metal substrate. Therefore, IMS PCB are circuit boards that integrate metallic material as the inner layer or a thick base to enhance the mechanical and thermal properties. Also, they are popularly referred to as metal core circuit board or aluminum clad. A metal core PCB is a great alternative to standard PCBs.

It is ideal when circuits require high dimensional stability or when high temperatures need to be conducted away from LEDs or power components. IMS PCB features aluminum core which offers excellent thermal conductivity. Therefore, IMS PCBs enable more stable operating parameters, minimized failure rate, and higher packing density.

Furthermore, the use of the cooling unit in this metal core PCB results in space savings. Therefore, this circuit board is widely used in high current application. An IMS PCB features a metallic support plate. A dielectric layer from circuit’s copper conductors separate this metallic plate. Also, this layer ensures heat transfer from the circuit to the metal substrate.

Furthermore, the metal substrate serves as a heat and offers structural support for the circuit board. The material of the dielectric layer features great heat dissipation properties and excellent dielectric strength. IMS PCBs are available in compact circuits that have high heat generation. Also, the life span of this PCB lasts for a longer period due to its exceptional mechanical durability.

The most common materials used for IMS PCBs are aluminum and copper due to their low cost and lightweight feature. However, copper is more ideal for high-density applications and it features a lower CTE.  The IMS PCB design layout involves sandwiching a single electric layer between a prepreg layer and a metallic substrate. These boards are typically used for simple circuit boards.

What Does IMS PCB Offer?

insulated metal substrate

IMS PCB is widely used in high power applications since they help in dissipating heat in surface mount components. Also, the dimensional stability of these circuit boards enables them to function without experiencing any crack in temperatures that range from 1400C to 1500C. In addition, the thickness of an IMS PCB doesn’t increase as temperature increases. Therefore, IMS PCBs can tolerate high temperatures.  Metal core PCBs is usually more expensive than FR4 circuit boards.

You will find IMS PCBs in flammable, high temperature, and high power environments. Also, they act as ground layers to shield sensitive components and absorb heat generated by SMD components. These circuit boards are widely used in the field of power electronics and LEDs. However, they offer additional benefits.

For heat management purposes, IMS PCBs features a copper based layer. Also, this layer comprises copper based alloy and its thickness is either 1.6mm or 1.0mm. A double sided IMS circuit features an aluminum layer on the outside of the board. In some cases, thermal vias are counterproductive since you have to drill through large parts of conducting aluminum. Also, thermal insulation may be insufficient in cases like this.

In this regard, it is better to go for IMS PCBs that don’t have thermal vias. This is because the aluminum transfers the heat within the carrier. One of the greatest benefits of a metal core PCB is its thermal management properties. Industrial IMS PCBs are ideal for use in applications that require thermal resistance.

 For instance, a thermally conductive base metal is a great thermal conductor as it minimizes the amount of heat transferred. Also, the PCB manufacturer will design and produce the PCB according to these guidelines. Also, integrating a standard copper thickness can reduce cost.

Benefits of IMS PCBs

IMS PCBs offer several benefits in today’s modern technology. As a result, the use of IMS PCBs in several applications is increasing every day.

Excellent Dissipation of heat

The buildup of heat is one of the major concerns for PCB manufacturers. IMS PCB offers the best solution to this problem. Also, this circuit transfers heat to another layer of the board. Therefore, IMS PCB transfers the heat without damaging the device. Also, metal core circuit boards feature heat transferring vias that enable transfer of heat from the top of the components to the substrate’s bottom side.

Excellent electrical properties

One of the greatest advantages of using an IMS PCB is its electrical properties. For instance, the dielectric constant measures the electrical characteristics of a metal core board. IMS PCB offers great dielectric constant.

Great thermal properties

IMS PCB features dielectric polymer layers that help to ensure low thermal resistivity and superior thermal conductivity. Also, the dimensional stability of this board is suitable.  It is much better than other PCBs. Also, this board can function for about 1400C to 1500C. Also, the dimension of the PCB is almost stable. It only increases by almost 3% at a minimum. IMS PCB’s thermal conductivity ranges from 0.8 to 3.0 W/c.K.

Lower weight and better recyclability

Insulated metal substrate IMS PCBs are usually lighter and offers more conductivity than traditional boards made from epoxy materials. Also, these boards are more environmentally friendly since metal act as the core material for their base layer. Aluminum is easily recyclable. Also, aluminum is less expensive since it is easy to mine and refine.


IMS PCBs are more durable and stronger than PCBs made from epoxy materials. Aluminum and copper are robust metals that can minimize the risk of any accidental breakage.

Types of IMS PCB


There are three various types of IMS PCBs. Also, the classification is according to the board location and trace layers.

Single-sided IMS PCB

A single sided IMS PCB features trace prints on one side of the board. Also, this board structure features a metal base a dielectric layer, a copper circuit layer, and a non-conducting solder mask. The metal base comprises copper alloy or aluminum.

Double sided IMS PCB

A double sided IMS board offers high functionality. Also, this circuit board comprises trace prints on the two sides of the board. A double sided IMS PCB uses copper, aluminum, or iron alloy as its base material.  In a double sided IMS PCB, there are two solder mask layers. Components populate these layers.

Multilayer IMS PCB

This type of IMS PCB has multiple layers. For some evident reasons, this PCB feature more functionality. Also, this PCB has more components, signal layers, and ground layers. Your application requirement will determine the choice of your base material. The material used for the base layer includes copper, aluminum, and iron alloy.

Furthermore, this IMS PCB has the most complex arrangement. It features copper layers that are usually sandwiched on the bottom and top sides of the metal core. These copper layers are crucial for the performance of these boards.  Also, these boards to more complex designs like single board. Metal core serves as a heat conductor to spread the heat.

Applications of IMS PCBs

Insulated metal substrate PCBs are widely used in several applications. The increased thermal conductivity of these boards enables higher packing densities and longer operating times. Therefore, they are highly preferred for high power applications.

Automotive industry

IMS PCBs are widely used in manufacturing parts of vehicles. For example, you will find then in power steering, LED headlights, and engine control. Due to the increased thermal conductivity of IMS PCBs, they are great for automotive parts.

LED technology

IMS PCBs offer better dissipation of heat. With IMS PCBs, the heat generated by LEDs can easily spread. Also, the heat conductance value of the insulating layers is much higher than that of FR4. Therefore, an IMS PCB is ideal for use in LED technology. This board is available in energy-saving lamps, LED lamps, and more.

Computing devices

An IMS PCB is ideal for use in computing devices such as power supply devices in computer and CPU motherboards. They play a significant role in ensuring the proper functionality of computing devices.

Solid state relays

Solid state relay, also known as SSR, is equivalent to mechanical relays. Also, these mechanical relays feature a power switching device and optocoupler driver circuit. These components are densely populated in a small casing. This small casing also functions as the heat sink. Therefore, solid state relay use IMS boards to absorb heat from all components and dissipate the heat to the enclosure.

Power electronics

Power electronic circuits feature switching devices. These switching devices generate excessive heat. Also, IMS PCBs spread heat efficiently. Therefore, this gives room for compact designs.

What is the Difference Between IMS PCBs and FR4 PCBs?

The mechanical and thermal properties of IMS circuit boards are better than that of FR4 PCBs. There are differences between IMS PCBs and FR4 PCBs as regards performance, applications, and the benefits they offer.  The differences between these boards are outlined below:

  • The manufacturing of insulated metal substrate PCB involves the use of diamond-coated saw blades. These blades cut the substrate material. On the other hand, FR4 makes use of regular machining tools.
  • IMS PCBs feature higher thermal conductivity. Therefore, these boards are ideal for use in high power applications. The thermal conductivity of this PCB is between the range of 0.8 t0 3.0 W/c.K for copper and aluminum. On the other hand, FR4 boards don’t feature high thermal conductivity as IMS PCB does.
  • Metal core PCBs offer much faster heat transmission than FR4 PCBs. Therefore, IMS boards are quick to eliminate heat. Also, IMS PCB makes the components that produce heat cooler.
  • While FR4 boards support several copper layers, most IMS circuit boards feature one layer. This is why it is rare to see IMS circuit boards that feature several layers. Multiple layer IMS PCBs involves complex manufacturing process.
  • While IMS boards usually feature white solder masks FR4 usually come in black, green, or amber solder masks.
  • FR4 boards’ thickness has no limit because they offer support to several layers. However, the thickness of insulated metal substrate PCB has a limit. If this board goes beyond its thickness limit, its benefits will not be valid.

Thermal Management Process in IMS Circuit Boards

Due to the thermal conductivity of IMS PCBs, these boards offer great thermal resistance. Also, IMS PCBs are popularly known for their thermal management properties. These PCBs use metal as its base layer. Metal is a great heat conductor, and as such, it is responsible for the thermal resistance of IMS PCBs.

We can use C-Therm TCi thermal conductivity to get a precise measurement. Also, analyzing the thermal conductivity of the component will help to determine the thermal management of these boards. Furthermore, the manufacture must place the appropriate materials in the right place to eliminate heat.

The thermal conductivity of IMS boards contributes to its thermal management. For thermal resistance, you may go for more efficient materials. Also, better materials can minimize heat in the board if suitable after determining the thermal conductivity of the component. For exceptional thermal resistance, it is important to choose the right material for the base layer.

Thermal conductivity is responsible for thermal resistance in IMS PCBs.  Also, other PCBs like FR4 might feature low thermal conductivity. However, the thermal conductivity of IMS PCBs contributes to its performance when used in high performance applications.

Thermal resistance is a great property for circuit boards. Also, thermal resistance measures the temperature difference of how a material resists the flow of heat.  One of the advantages boards with great thermal resistance is that they function well in extreme conditions.

Some boards work under extreme and harsh conditions. Therefore, great thermal resistance and thermal conductivity are benefits of IMS PCBs. Basically, the thermal conductivity of a PCB material contributes a lot in PCB functionality.


We’ve explained the application, benefits, and thermal management process of the IMS PCB. You may contact us immediately if you need answers to any of your questions.




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