What Are The Characteristics Of An IMS PCB?
IMS(Insulated Metal Base) PCBs have some specific and delicate characteristics. The main characteristics of this PCB are as
●Excellent processing performance
●Use of SMT technology
●Great mechanical strength
●Improved power reliability
●Higher mechanical endurance
What Is The Structure Of IMS PCB?
There is a basic structural layout of these materials. The basic IMS structure consists of as belows:
What Are The Applications Of IMS PCB?
Some of the main applications of metal core PCBs are as below:
●Power supply equipment like SW adjusters, switch regulators, DC/AC converters.
●Computing devices like CPU motherboards, power supply devices in computers, and not to mention computers.
●Electronic communication equipment like electrical telegraphy, frequency amplifers, fIlter circuits,etc.
●LED lamps, energy-saving lamps, lanterns, etc.
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IMS PCB: The Ultimate FAQ Guide
Let’s look at some of the fundamental aspects about IMS PCB.
Whether you want to learn about specifications, features, properties or configurations; you will find all information right here.
So keep reading to learn more.
- What Is An IMS PCB?
- What Metals Can You Use In An IMS PCB?
- Why Do You Employ IMS PCB?
- Where Do You Employ IMS PCBs?
- What Material Qualities Do You Need For IMS PCB?
- What Are The Advantages Of Using An IMS PCB?
- What Are The Types Of IMS PCBs?
- How Can You Configure An IMS PCB?
- How Does An IMS PCB Compare To An FR-4 PCB?
- What Surface Finish Can You Employ On An IMS PCB?
- How Do You Solder An IMS PCB?
- Why Is Aluminium Preferred Over Copper In IMS PCB?
- What Etching Techniques Do You Apply In IMS PCB Fabrication?
- What Are The Characteristics Of Etching Process In IMS PCB?
- What Thermal Management Alternatives Are There To An IMS PCB?
- What Copper Thickness Can You Use In IMS PCB?
- How Can You Minimize Drilling Defects When Working On IMS PCBs?
- What Is Thermal Conductivity In IMS PCB?
- What Are The Standards You Use In The Manufacture Of IMS PCB?
What Is An IMS PCB?
IMS is short for Insulated Metal Substrate.
An IMS circuit board employs metal for a substrate alongside a thin dielectric layer and copper film.
Many IMS PCBs are single-sided boards due to the configuration and hence only supports component attachment on one side.
You can attach a heatsink to the baseplate using screws and grease for thermal dissipation.
You achieve superior heat dissipation when using an IMS PCB, than a traditional circuit board.
Using an IMS PCB is one of the most straightforward ways to keep surface-mount components cool.
What Metals Can You Use In An IMS PCB?
When using an IMS PCB, you can employ the following metals as a substrate:
Aluminum possesses both metallic and nonmetallic properties, and is one of the most widely available elements on the planet.
You extract aluminum form bauxite ore by undertaking a manufacturing process to convert it into useful form.
You can make aluminium alloys by combining with metals such as magnesium, silicon, zinc, copper and manganese.
When compared to pure aluminum, combining with other metal elements improves workability, electrical conductivity, strength, density and corrosion resistance.
Aluminium is highly ductile making formation of thin sheets possible.
Its high malleability, on the other hand, allows you to easily shape aluminium material allowing use in IMS PCBs.
You find copper from sulphide, carbonate and oxide ores, and as a byproduct in the production of silver. Copper and its alloys are among the most adaptable engineering materials.
Copper is useful across industrial applications due to its unique feature combinations including conductivity, machinability, corrosion resistance, ductility and strength.
Variations in constitution and production methods can improve these qualities even more.
Some of the properties of copper and its alloys allowing their use in IMS PCBs includes:
- Excellent conductivity of heat and electricity.
- Impeccable resistance to corrosion.
- Excellent machinability with mechanical and electrical properties preserved at cryogenic temperatures
- A high melting point in pure state of 1083o
Copper is only second to silver in terms of electrical conductivity matching 97 percent of silver’s conductivity.
You employ copper in IMS PCBs due to its availability and cost.
Stainless steel refers to a group of iron-based alloys resistant to corrosion and heat.
A distinguishing feature of stainless steel is its chromium content of 10.5 percent, which confers improved corrosion resistance over other steels.
You can also employ molybdenum, nickel, nitrogen and magnesium in alloying stainless steel.
Steel with minimal chromium content of 10. 5 percent offers up to 200 times corrosion protection than steel without.
You appreciate its use in IMS PCB for its strength, durability, workability, low maintenance, eco-friendly, recyclability and thermal resistance.
Stainless steel does not need regular treatment via coating and painting once in use.
Why Do You Employ IMS PCB?
Thermal stress similar to that exhibited in processors, can lead to poor operation of circuit boards’ or even failure.
The rise of possibility of thermal stress has increased significantly with technological advancements and equipment miniaturization.
You find in today’s circuit boards, you closely stack components in a reduced form factor.
Consequently, effective and apposite management of heat in PCBs is vital in preventing a complete loss of functionality in devices.
Using an IMS PCB is an effective thermal management technique for dissipating heat from the circuit board’s primary components.
Such components include LEDs and transistors which generate a lot of heat.
Where Do You Employ IMS PCBs?
IMS PCBs are useful in high power applications where you have large mechanical loads with impeccable dimensional stability desired.
You find these PCBs allow you to employ thinner traces, achieve a higher component density and extend your product life.
Components like LEDs and transistors generate a lot of heat that you can easily eliminate with an IMS PCB.
When you employ an insulated metal substrate, you achieve heat conductance up to ten times higher than ordinary FR4.
Some of the common applications of IMS PCBs are:
LED circuits are becoming increasingly small, energy-efficient, and high power output.
You employ IMS PCBs in LED circuits because they efficiently absorb the thermal energy produced by LED components.
Hundreds of control units make up modern cars. You find these little computers around the engine area where they are exposed to extreme temperatures.
IMS PCBs have the thermal conductivity and mechanical qualities that these applications require.
Power circuits employ switching devices which generate a lot of heat.
IMS PCBs efficiently transfer the heat without the need for discrete heatsinks for each component making smaller designs achievable.
Solid State Relays
These components are packed tightly into a tiny enclosure that also serves as a heat sink.
You employ IMS PCBs to collect the components’ heat and transport it for elimination at the enclosure.
What Material Qualities Do You Need For IMS PCB?
When evaluating an IMS PCB, you need to take into account both the mechanical and electrical qualities of the base material.
Some of the key characteristics are as follows:
- Dielectric Constant: Compares the substrate material’s capacitance to that of a vacuum in the role of dielectric.
- Thermal Expansion Co-efficient (CTE): Measures the extent of the metal substrates’ change in the z-axis direction upon heat exposure.
- Temperature of Glass Transition (Tg): The material ceases to function as a hard material and enters a plastic state.
- Temperature of Decomposition (Td): Determines the material’s heat resistance which influences its physical structure.
- Time to Delamination: Monitors the time taken to delaminate by the substrate at the temperatures of 260 and 288 oC respectively.
- Comparative Tracking Index: Measure’s the substrate’s electrical breakdown qualities.
What Are The Advantages Of Using An IMS PCB?
Using an IMS PCB affords you several advantages as follows:
- An IMS PCB has better thermal conductivity than a conventional FR4 PCB that can be ten times more.
Thermal conductivities on IMS PCBs could range between 1 to 12 W/m.K.
- You can employ the thick metal substrate in IMS PCB for structural support in the device.
- You can closely pack components dissipating high heat in IMS PCBs, allowing formation of compact devices.
You find this possible due to the efficient heat conduction you experience in these boards.
- IMS PCBs are less susceptible to fire than FR-4 PCBs since they employ metal as substrate material.
You can therefore use IMS PCBs in high-power applications or in combustible environments or those with high-temperatures.
- When using an IMS PCB, you can afford electromagnetic shielding provided by the metal substrate.
You can also utilize the metal substrate as a ground layer, eliminating need for extra traces thus saving costs.
- Using surface-mounted devices with IMS PCBs is easier since the board can immediately absorb and distribute the heat generated.
What Are The Types Of IMS PCBs?
You can classify IMS PCBs with the metal type they employ as a substrate into the following:
- Aluminum IMS PCB: Many IMS PCBs employ aluminium metal as substrate material due to its low cost.
Aluminum is also lighter than copper with a thermal conductivity close to copper’s.
Aluminum IMS PCB
- Stainless Steel IMS PCB: You employ stainless steel where you desire mechanical strength for your IMS PCB.
Stainless steel is even cheaper than aluminium but compared to copper and aluminium, is the least conductive.
- Copper IMS PCB: Copper offers you excellent thermal conduction than aluminium and stainless steel and thus costs mush higher.
Additionally, you find copper is heavier and easily corrodes than both aluminium and stainless steel.
Copper IMS PCB
How Can You Configure An IMS PCB?
You can configure an IMS PCB in the following ways:
You install components on one side when using a single sided IMS PCB.
Only one side of this sort of IMS PCB can be used to install components.
You have a single layer of copper alongside the metal substrate which doubles up as a heatsink.
Two-Layers with Single-Sided Component Mounting
In this configuration, you employ a pair of copper layers to accommodate extra circuitry.
However, you only populate one copper layer and can employ an FR-4 film between the copper layers. Using vias connecting the component layer to the substrate can enhance the board’s thermal conductivity.
Dual Side Component Mounting
You have two conductive layers of copper that you can populate in this configuration.
You sandwich the metal substrate using vias for heat and current signal transfer.
The mechanical qualities of these PCBs is improved with resin insulating the current-carrying vias. However, the heatsink quality of the metal substrate lessens due to its location in the middle.
Multilayer With Dual Side Component-Mounting
An IMS PCB with this arrangement is the most complicated containing multiple copper layers on either side of the metal substrate.
You can mount components on both the external copper layers allowing you a higher density and functionality.
How Does An IMS PCB Compare To An FR-4 PCB?
The major differential aspect between an IMS PCB and an FR-4 PCB is in the thermal conductivity capability and mechanical qualities.
IMS PCBs offer you better thermal conductivity than conventional FR-4 boards with their rigid structure enhancing the board’s mechanical strength.
Other differences are as follows:
- You can put through-hole components when using an FR-4 PCB with a single-layer.
However, it is impractical to employ through-holes in an IMS PCB employing a single-layer.
- IMS PCBs have superior thermal conductivity than a similar FR4 PCBs.
- You only use white solder masks for IMS PCBs. You have a wide colour option range for FR4 PCBs ranging from green, yellow, black, blue, among others.
- In making IMS PCBs, you utilize specialized machinery such as diamond-coated blades due to the metal substrate material.
FR-4 manufacture employs standard equipment and machinery.
- When making FR-4 PCBs, you can have several layers. An IMS PCB is mostly effective with a single layer only.
- You can furnish an FR-4 PCB to much larger thicknesses compared to IMS PCBs.
Exceeding a cetin thickness for an IMS PCB renders its effectiveness null in thermal conductivity.
What Surface Finish Can You Employ On An IMS PCB?
A PCB surface finish is a metallic coating you apply over the trace to protect the underlying copper from oxidation.
Corrosion of the conductive copper trace can result in interruption of the signal flow resulting in failure.
Some of the surface finishes you employ for an IMS PCB are:
HASL / Lead Free HASL
Hot Air Solder Leveling presents the most common surface finish in board manufacture.
You immerse the board into molten tin/lead alloy, before eliminating excess solder by blowing with hot air.
In lead free HASL, you replace lead with other metal due to the classification of lead as a restricted hazardous substance.
HASL exposes your circuit board to high temperatures as high allowing you to highlight any delamination concerns before component assembly.
OSP (Organic Solderability Preservative)
The OSP is a surface finish type based on water used in the protection of copper pads from corrosion. OSP is low-maintenance, provides a coplanar surface, and being lead-free is eco-friendly.
Nonetheless, it lacks the durability of HASL and is delicate to touch.
Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold (ENIG)
ENIG comprises a layering pair over the copper composed of nickel and gold metals.
The nickel offers copper protection as the actual soldering surface for the components.
Gold shields the nickel during storage offering low contact resistance.
As it conforms to RoHS, it is a popular surface finish that gives you a smooth surface while offering long shelf life.
In immersion silver, you apply a chemical finish over the copper by immersing in a content of silver ions. The process is non-electrolytic process that produces a fantastic finish for EMI shielded circuit boards.
You achieve an average and even surface thickness between 5-18 microinches with this finish.
The finish is eco-friendly and less costly compared to ENIG.
You achieve a metallic finish with immersion through the direct chemical deposition of tin over the copper.
Coper forms a strong bond with tin achieving a permanent shield for protection against oxidation.
Since the process employs no lead elements, it is environmental friendly. Additionally, you achieve a flat surface that is reworkable.
How Do You Solder An IMS PCB?
Soldering IMS PCBs on a solder wave necessitates no changes to the soldering technique.
You pump tin into the holes for component from beneath, instantly attaching them to the drill’s copper wall.
However, depending on the IMS board type, reflow-soldering may necessitate certain soldering profile tweaks.
In a reflow soldering procedure, the primary advantage of IMS PCBs works against you.
You note that the capacity to effectively dissipate heat makes the soldering pads to heat up more slowly. In order to alter the soldering profile, you find two factors influential:
the metal substrate thickness and the board size.
Component durability limits the peak temperature leaving the dwell time pre melting point as the only modifiable process variable.
Ensure enough board heating at this time to prevent less heat from draining away on subsequent peak.
Why Is Aluminium Preferred Over Copper In IMS PCB?
IMS PCBs employ a metal substrate to improve the thermal and mechanical properties of the board.
Using a metal substarte improves thermal conductive by up to ten times that of a similar board employing FR-4 substrate.
Aluminium finds common use as substrate material for such boards because it is inexpensive and light.
While copper has greater thermal conductivity and lower CTE, it costs much higher relegating it to high density designs.
What Etching Techniques Do You Apply In IMS PCB Fabrication?
You use the etching technique to selectively remove the surface of a substrate or layer in line with the design.
You can employ either wet etching or dry etching for your IMS PCB.
Wet etching is a method that involves immersing the materials in an etching solution whose use is widespread.
Three factors affect the etching rate namely: stirring, the concentration of the etching solution, and the temperature of etching solution.
Wet etching is an isotropic process.
When you increase the temperature of etching and implement stirring, you can significantly boost the etching rate.
Dry etching is the most common approach for etching objects in sub-micron sizes since it utilizes plasma in etching thin layers.
The plasma initiates a reaction with the surface layer resulting in production of volatile chemicals.
You can also use the plasma to assault the film surface directly. The dry etching process is anisotropic.
What Are The Characteristics Of Etching Process In IMS PCB?
You can characterize the etching process according to the technique employed, that is, wet etching or dry etching.
Some of the characteristics are as follows:
- For wet etching, while it is inexpensive, you can employ it for all metals in IMS PCBs while achieving uniform surface.
- Selectivity in wet etching is high and you can perform the process to surface without damaging that underneath.
- You employ a physical ion sputtering mechanism in dry physical etching resulting in a fast etching rate.
- Dry physical etching allows line width control which simplifies the process with an anisotropic side wall profile.
- Dry chemical etching is a slow process that involves chemical interaction between active elements.
- Achieving line width control in dry chemical etching is difficult with an isotropic side wall profile.
What Thermal Management Alternatives Are There To An IMS PCB?
Thermal management is essential in high power boards where there is a large dissipation of heat.
If left unmanaged, heat buildup on a circuit board surface can induce strain that can hamper functionality and even cause damage.
Using an IMS PCB is an efficient way of curbing heat buildup on your circuit board.
However, where you have large layer counts or faced with cost constraints, you can employ other alternatives.
Thermal management alternatives for IMS PCBs are:
- Using thermal vias which are small plated holes that connect your PCB layers creating a continuous path for thermal transfer.
- Employing thick copper layers to increase the surface area for heat distribution and dissipation.
- You can attach a heat sink to the base of your conventional board to collect heat for external elimination via convection.
What Copper Thickness Can You Use In IMS PCB?
Copper thickness in your circuit board design determines the PCB’s current carrying capability. Measurement of copper thickness is in ounces which is customarily a measure of weight.
However, the ounce measurement describes the thickness you achieve when you lay the copper weight in a square foot area.
For instance, a copper weight of one ounce will achieve a thickness of 1.4 mils.
When fabricating IMS PCBs, you can employ copper thickness of 0.5 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz, and 3 oz.
You essentially identify these copper weights as standard copper weights with those over 3-oz as thick copper.
You find using thick copper on IMS PCBs negates the benefits of thermal conductivity desired from employing metal substrate.
How Can You Minimize Drilling Defects When Working On IMS PCBs?
The drilling process allows you to come up with holes for component attachment and interlayer connection.
It is a precise process that requires accuracy in its performance to prevent board damage.
You can encounter defects drilling the drilling process which you can minimize as follows:
- Desmearing: You employ this chemical procedure to remove melted resin that has accumulated on the walls of the drilled hole.
- Deburring: Employs motorization to eliminated burrs, which are protruding extensions of copper that form during the drilling process.
- Delamination: Entails the separation of layers in your PCB during the drilling process which you can minimize by employing laser drilling.
What Is Thermal Conductivity In IMS PCB?
Thermal conductivity refers solely to heat conduction but not its transfer via convection or radiation. You express conductance, influenced by the IMS PCB’s size, using the coefficient Watt per Kelvin (W/K).
You consider thermal impedance when choosing a material for your IMS PCB as it influences thermal conductivity.
The thermal resistance of a material refers to its internal resistance to the flow of heat.
Having a material with a low thermal resistance indicates a greater capacity to conduct heat.
Thermal impedance shares similar aspects with thermal resistance but refers to the contact surface’s constant.
When breakthrough voltage in insignificant during material selection, you can employ a thin dielectric with reduced thermal conductivity.
You can achieve similar thermal impedance this way.
What Are The Standards You Use In The Manufacture Of IMS PCB?
Standards are essential in quality assurance of products by guiding the manufacturing process of IMS PCBs.
Some common standards include:
- IPC-2221: Provides guidelines for the PCB design process.
It encompasses features such as the design layout, materials, mechanical qualities, parts lists, thermal management, and electrical properties.
- IPC-6012B: Specifies the certification and performance requirements for rigid PCB fabrication.
It specifies standards for conductor spacing, solderability, and structural integrity for a variety of product groupings.
- J-STD-001: Specifies the materials, techniques, and other requirements for high-quality soldered interconnections.
It emphasizes on process control and highlights specifications for a variety of electronic products.
- IPC-TM-650: Set of rules for evaluating several elements of printed circuit boards such testing a PCB’s proclivity for surface electrochemical migration.
You can also determine the resistance to current flow over the substrate surface and assessing a board’s ionic cleanliness.
For any questions or inquiry about IMS PCB, contact us now.