Can you cut LED Strip Lights and still work?
Since a MC LED light strip is fixed in length and it is not always possible to buy light strips of a suitable length every time, users have often asked if a light strip can be cut to a fixed length.
Actually, there are many brands and products of LED light strips, so whether a light strip can still be used normally after being cut is not a question that can be given a general answer.
It really depends on the specific product. In general, if the light strip has a cut line, it can be cut; if it has not, it is best not to cut it.
How to Fix LED Strip Lights When Cut
If the LED light strip you purchased can be cut, the remaining part that you have cut off cannot be used anymore. If you want to reconnect them after cutting, you must use an additional 4 pin connector to reconnect.
However, if the operation is improper when you cut and connect, it may also cause the light strip to stop working properly. So we recommend that you double-check the length of the strip before cutting and avoid the need to reconnect after cutting.
How to Use LED Strip Lights After Cutting
Some light strips can be cut to a specific length and continue to work.
However, they must be cut according to the cut mark. There are some tiny and precise parts on LED light strips.
If you accidentally cut the wrong place, you may cause the light to stop working normally.
Venture is a professional manufacturer of MCPCB (metal core PCB) LED strip in China for more than 10 years.
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- Accurate dimension
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MCPCB LED Strip: The Ultimate FAQ Guide
In this guide, you will find all information you’re looking for about MCPCB LED strip.
Whether you want to learn about features, specifications, material type or classification, you will find all information right here.
Let’s dive right in.
- What Is An MCPCB LED Strip?
- Where Do You Employ MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Metals Do You Employ In An MCPCB LED Strip?
- How Can You Stack Up An MCPCB LED Strip?
- Why Is Symmetry Important When Stacking Up An MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Are Some Of The Qualities Of Aluminium As A Metal Core For MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Are The Common Classifications Of Aluminium Core PCB You Can Employ In MCPCB LED Strips?
- What Copper Weights Can You Employ With Your MCPCB LED Strip?
- Why Do You Employ An MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Are The Advantages Of Employing An MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Is The Difference Between A Metal Core PCB And An FR-4 PCB?
- Why Shouldn’t You Use Plated Through-holes In An MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Soldering Processes Can You Use On An MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Tests Do You Subject The MCPCB LED Strip?
- What Are Some Of The Manufacturing Processes Of An MCPCB LED Strip?
- Why Are MCPCBs Useful In Making LED Strips?
- How Do Copper And Aluminium Based MCPCB LED Strips Compare?
- What Surface Finishes Can You Use With MCPCB LED Strips?
- What Are Some Of The Engineering Solutions To Consider When Making MCPCB LED Strips?
What Is An MCPCB LED Strip?
MCPCB is an abbreviation of Metal Core Printed Circuit Board referring to a PCB with a metal backing rather than FR-4.
Other names for an MCPCB are: thermal clad PCB, Insulated Metallic Substrate (IMS), metal-clad PCB or Insulated Metal PCB (IMPCB).
The MCPCB employs a metal core, commonly aluminium or copper metal, as the metal backing of an MCPCB.
The structure of an MCPCB consist of the metal plates, copper film and insulating layers for thermal purposes.
Consequently, an MCPCB LED strip is a circuit formation encompassing a light emitting diode furnished on a metal core PCB.
Using MCPCBs for LED strips has come about due to the large heat production you experience in the application of LEDs.
Therefore, you find using MCPCB LED strips in lighting applications essentially helps you to address the heat problem.
MCPCB LED strip
Where Do You Employ MCPCB LED Strip?
The MCPCB LED strip finds use in lighting applications with large heat dissipations conventional boards such as FR-4 cannot effectively handle.
Subsequently, you determine that by employing metal core PCBs in such lighting applications you conveniently conduct effective cooling.
Using MCPCB LED strips in lighting tech allows you to minimize Your LED count when working on a determined illumination.
Additionally, you minimize the amount of heat on the board surface through the metal backing.
You will find such strips common in the following applications:
- High power LED applications such as down lights, navigation lights, spot lights, tube lights, flood lights, high bay lights and cove lights.
- Making of back light units in devices such as computer keyboards and cellular phones.
- General and outdoor lighting allocations such as street lighting.
- Some applications in the automotive industry including hybrid and electric motor control rely on MCPCB LED strips.
What Metals Do You Employ In An MCPCB LED Strip?
An MCPCB LED strip employs metal backing instead of standard substrate material such as FR-4 in its structure.
A metal core allows you to dissipate the large heat resulting from LED application more efficiently eliminating heat build-up.
Allowing heat to accumulate on your board forming thermal pockets can be damaging to your LED applications.
When employing metal cores in MCPCB LED strips, you can furnish them to varying thickness to suit your needs.
You find the use of aluminum and copper metals common in MCPCB LED strips applications as the metal core.
You can have aluminium with a dielectric thickness of 75 microns or copper with a dielectric thickness of 35 microns.
Employing aluminium for your metal core in an MCPCB LED strip affords you great heat conduction and transfer capacity.
Furthermore, aluminium is light allowing you to employ it in weight sensitive applications such as LED lighting.
You can furnish an aluminium core to between 40 and 120 mils when making an MCPCB LED strip.
You then benefit from its high thermal conductivity and breakdown voltage, large peeling strength, and high resistance to soldering temperature.
Besides aluminium metal, copper metal offers you another effective option for metal core use in an MCPCB LED strip.
While copper has seemingly superior qualities to aluminium, it is more expensive and heavier thus posing a difficult manufacture process.
You can also employ alloys of aluminium to reinforce aluminium properties of good conduction and low coefficient of thermal expansion.
Such alloys include combining aluminum, magnesium and chromium allowing easier machining at low cost.
Additionally, you can combine aluminium with magnesium, silicon and copper to achieve a metal backing with easy workability and conductivity.
Such a combination also allows you to extract benefits of copper metal’s excellent properties without breaking the bank.
LED strip light
How Can You Stack Up An MCPCB LED Strip?
An MCPCB LED strip encompasses a multilayer structure consisting solder mask, conductive track, dielectric layer and metal backing.
You find the conductive layer fashioned over a copper plate of between one and six oz with the metal backing serving as a heat sink.
You can have different stack-ups of an MCPCB LED strip as follows:
Single Layer MCPCB LED Strip
In a single layer MCPCB LED strip, you have a metal base, a dielectric layer, a conductive track, and solder mask.
You have components attached to the conductive track which is typically copper of between one and six oz.
With a single layer MCPCB LED strip, you can employ copper, aluminium or their alloy types for your metal base.
The single layer structure is sufficient to effectively dissipate any generated heat from the attached components.
Chip-On-Board MCPCB LED Strip
The Chip-On-Board MCPCB LED strip finds use in applications requiring thermoelectric separation.
Here, you have a single conductive copper layer, a dielectric layer and a metal base in this MCPCB LED strip structure.
The layer structure resembles that of the single layer MCPCB LED strip, however in this case you employ thinner layers.
Additionally, you have a chip positioned between the layers over the metal base which allows for thermoelectric separation.
Two Layer MCPCB LED Strip
The two or double layer MCPCB LED strip refers to the number of conductive layers in the configuration.
You employ two conductive layers with the double layer MCPCB LED strip alongside the metal core.
Here, you position the two conductive layers over the metal core such that the metal backing is at the bottom.
You can employ aluminium or copper or an iron alloy for your metal backing.
Additionally, you can employ plated through holes to offer you interlayer connection in this stack up.
The plated though holes can function as thermal via or conduits for electrical flow path between the conductive layers.
Double Sided MCPCB LED Strip
With this stack up, you position the conductive layers such that they are on either side of the metal backing.
This orientation allows you to populate both board sides increasing the component density compared to the two layer board.
Plated through holes allow you to provide interlayer connection for thermal or electrical transfer as vias.
You can also have non-plated through holes which you employ as mounting holes in the double sided MCPCB LED strip.
Multilayer MCPCB LED Strip
Making a multilayer MCPCB LED strip follows the same design rules as a multilayer FR-4 board but with more complex processes.
With this stack up, you can have the layers on either side of the metal core or all layers above it.
Like with a double layer MCPCB LED strip, you have plated through holes offering interlayer connection.
The plated through holes can allow for thermal transfer across the layers or an interlayer electrical signal path.
You also find prepregs separate the conductive layers offering electrical isolation from one layer to the other.
A non-plated though-hole serves as a mounting hole across the MCPCB LED strip board stack-up.
Why Is Symmetry Important When Stacking Up An MCPCB LED Strip?
Symmetry is an important aspect of the MCPCB LED strip especially of the multilayer type.
Symmetry refers to a similarity in organization of the layers when using a multiple set-up with a metal core.
When stacking the MCPCB LED strip, ensure a uniform layer configuration on the two metal core sides.
This means that you should have an equal layer count above and below the metal core.
Where you have an eight layer board for instance, you’ll have four layers over the metal core and four under.
Arranging the MCPCB LED strip in such a way helps you to avoid warpage which can result in poor performance or board damage.
What Are Some Of The Qualities Of Aluminium As A Metal Core For MCPCB LED Strip?
An MCPCB LED strip employs a metal core backing as a substrate for efficient thermal dissipation.
Aluminium and copper are two of the common metals you can employ as metal core for your MCPCB LED strip.
You find the following qualities of aluminium make it a popular choice as metal backing for many MCPCB LED strips:
Aluminium is a naturally occurring metal you find virtually all over the world making it easily available. Consequently, you find the price of aluminum is relatively cheap than other metals allowing low cost production.
Using aluminium is environmentally safe as the metal has no toxic composition while it is a hundred percent recyclable.
Furthermore, aluminium has easily manufacturability minimizing the amount of energy you employ in working it.
With the restriction of hazardous substance use in PCBs, you find aluminium use acceptable.
Some of the restricted metals in PCB manufacturing includes lead.
Large Heat Dissipation
When you accumulate large heat quantity on your board, you experience thermal stress that can result in board damage.
Materials such as FR-4 and CEM 3 that you employ as a substrate in conventional PCBs have low thermal conduction capacity.
Aluminium is capable of effectively dissipating large amounts of heat due to its high thermal conductance capacity.
When you use aluminium as metal core for MCPCB LED strip, you reduce the chance of thermal strain occurring.
The durability of aluminium metal as a core is impressive offering your MCPCB LED strip physical strength and support.
The mechanical fortitude of aluminium prevents easy damage of the MCPCB LED strip under physical subjection suck as handling.
While you find aluminium possesses impressive physical properties such as rigidity and durability, you find it is very light.
As a lightweight material, you can conveniently employ aluminum metal in an MCPCB LED strip.
Lower Thermal Expansion
Thermal expansion is the property of a material that causes it to increase in size in the presence of increased temperature.
A temperature build up on an MCPCB LED strip, can cause components to exhibit thermal expansion resulting in detachment misalignment.
Aluminium as a substrate for your MCPCB LED strip, reduces the board’s heat levels reducing component expansion and contraction.
Thermal expansion can especially be a problem where you employ surface mount components on your MCPCB LED strip.
You find aluminium barely shows any response to temperature increase in relation to its size.
Consequently, aluminium dissipates the high temperature generated by an MCPCB LED strip without a visible size change.
Where you employ material with dimensional instability, temperature changes cause the material to expand and contract resulting in warping.
What Are The Common Classifications Of Aluminium Core PCB You Can Employ In MCPCB LED Strips?
When employing aluminium as a metal core for your MCPCB LED strip, you ca use three different versions.
All the aluminium substrate will offer you effective thermal dissipation only differing in area of application.
The three categories of aluminium backed MCPCB LED strips are:
MCPCB LED strip
Universal Aluminium PCB
You find this aluminium PCB employs an epoxy and glass fiber prepreg as a dielectric layer for your MCPCB LED strip.
High Thermal-Conductive Aluminium PCB
You employ the high thermal-conductive aluminium PCB in MCPCB LED strips with large thermal dissipations.
The dielectric layer I this aluminum PCB type consist of epoxy resin with very high thermal conductivity.
High-frequency Aluminum PCB
This aluminium PCB type will suit you where you require your MCPCB LED strip for high-frequency applications.
In this case, you employ a dielectric layer consisting of resin glass fiber pre-preg with polyolefin or polyimide.
What Copper Weights Can You Employ With Your MCPCB LED Strip?
Copper weight is a quantity indicating the amount of copper you employ in your MCPCB LED strip.
You define copper weight in oz which describe the thickness you achieve when you lay out copper in a square foot.
When making an MCPCB LED strip, you can employ varying copper weights between 0.5 and 3 oz.
You can employ thinner copper films in a multilayer configuration to achieve a specific overall copper weight.
Why Do You Employ An MCPCB LED Strip?
You find LED lighting devices used in high-power application present the problem of large heat dissipation.
Of concern especially, is where you mount such LEDs on printed circuit boards.
You need the right approach to accommodate the LED on the PCB without which you experience performance handicaps.
These handicaps arise due to the large heat dissipation that can cause performance issues on your LED lighting devices.
Employing an MCPCB LED strip in these situations allows you to effectively dissipate heat alleviating any potential board damage.
Using conventional substrate material such as FR-4 or fans is insufficient for the large heat quantities.
An MCPCB LED strip allows you to conductively cool the LED strip by direct heat transfer.
The heat transfers from a point of large concentration to that of a lower one until it is eliminated.
What Are The Advantages Of Employing An MCPCB LED Strip?
An MCPCB LED strip allows you to effectively manage thermal conditions on your circuit board.
You accrue several advantages from employing an MCPCB LED strip as follows:
- You can integrate an MCPCB LED strip with a dielectric consisting of polymer with elevated thermal conductivity and reduced resistance.
- By employing material with high conductivity with an MCPCB LED strip, you experience faster transfer of heat.
- You can etch the metal backing of an MCPCB LED strip to guide the flow of heat preventing interaction with components.
- Using a metal backing such as aluminium for your MCPCB LED strip allows you to furnish lighter devices. Aluminium is a light material with large thermal dissipation qualities compared to ceramic material for instance.
- When you employ metal backing such as in an MCPCB LED strip, you product is likely to last longer. Metal PCBs have an extended service life when compared to epoxy material for instance.
- Using an MCPCB LED strip is environmental friendly since the metal consists no toxic substances and you can recycle metal.
- In an application with high rates of vibration, you note the metal backing in an MCPCB LED strip absorbs most vibrations.
What Is The Difference Between A Metal Core PCB And An FR-4 PCB?
Metal core PCB
FR 4 PCB
A metal core PCB employs metal backing as a substrate for efficient thermal dissipation.
An FR-4 PCB employs FR-4 material as a dielectric to provide electrical insulation for the circuit board.
The substrate layer allows you to provide electrical isolation and eliminate board heat.
Having these layers in thin configurations allows you to create a thermal path as short as possible for your circuit board.
Having a thin dielectric allows you to dissipate heat quicker.
Usually, the dielectric layer typically ranges between three and six mils.
The following aspects highlight the difference between metal core substrate and FR-4:
The MCPCB can handle up to four times shocks and vibration than an FR-4 substrate. You find the FR-4 substrate is less rigid than the metal core PCB.
Metal core PCBs cost more to produce and hence purchase when you compare them to FR-4 PCBs. Manufacturing FR-4 in large quantities is cheap making such boards to have lower prices.
The conductivity of FR-4 PCB pales in comparison to that of the metal core PCB. You find the conductivity of metal core PCBs surpasses that of FR-4 by up to nine times on average.
You can have different thicknesses for an FR-4 board depending on individual layer sizes and count. For an MCPCB, you define the thickness of your board by identifying metal plate thickness and that of the dielectric layer.
v. Thermal Relief
When employing FR-4 PCBs in high temperature applications, you require plated through holes for thermal transference.
With a similar one layer MCPCB, you have no option for PTHs with the mounting technology used as SMT.
vi. Manufacture Process
When making an FR-4 board, you undertake many processes including drilling through holes and plating them as paths for thermal relief.
However, MCPCB boards have no need for such processes since they dissipate heat by their own.
vii. Solder Mask
You apply solder mask on both surfaces of an FR-4 PCB with the common green colour or red, blue and black.
You can only have solder mask on the top surface of an MCPCB LED strip with the colour white preferred.
Why Shouldn’t You Use Plated Through-holes In An MCPCB LED Strip?
You need to reduce the need for having pated through-holes in your MCPCB LED strip especially for component attachment.
Prefer to use surface mounted components since using plated through holes with a metal backing can result in shorts.
However, where you need to employ plated through holes, have a clear separation of the plated through holes and metal backing.
You can do this by making the drill holes through the backing larger than those of the through-holes.
What Soldering Processes Can You Use On An MCPCB LED Strip?
When populating an MCPCB LED strip, you find surface mounting technology more popular as opposed to through-hole mounting.
Employing through-hole mounting in MCPCB LED strips is challenging due to the risk of shorts posed by holes and metal backing.
As such, where you have need for through-hole mounting, you need to separate the holes from the metal core.
Furthermore, you need to use very few plated through-holes to reduce the complexity of effective separation and occurrence of shorts.
For the surface mounted components, you find reflow soldering the most common form of soldering process.
Reflow soldering allows you to attach components on the MCPCB LED strip by conveying the board through a reflow oven.
Mounting components on PCB
What Tests Do You Subject The MCPCB LED Strip?
When testing an MCPCB LED strip, you evaluate different board aspects that influence performance. You can test your MCPCB LED strip using the following tests:
You conduct this test on a powered board through the examination of circuit paths by using probes.
Unlike the flying probes, the probes here are fixed and fashioned over the conductive track of the board.
The probes press against the solder connections and determine their ability to conduct electrical power.
Flying Probe Test
The flying-probe test is a simpler testing set-up than the in-circuit test, using a movable probe with needles in board examination.
In this test, the board has no power and you seek to determine electrical issues such as open and short circuits.
What Are Some Of The Manufacturing Processes Of An MCPCB LED Strip?
Common manufacturing processes you employ on an MCPCB LED strip include:
While you employ a metal backing for your MCPCB LED strip, you need a conductive layer for electrical transfer.
You provide this layer through etching of copper film of a given thickness according to your board design.
Solder Mask Printing
Printing the solder mask in an MCPCB LED strip is challenging due to the use of a thicker conductive layer film.
You find very thick copper causes an increased difference between the trace layer and backing layer. You can overcome this problem by printing the solder mask using the two-time technique.
Processes in mechanical manufacturing include drilling of the MCPCB LED strip, molding and scoring.
You need to keep these processes to a minimum since it negatively affects electrical performance of the board.
Why Are MCPCBs Useful In Making LED Strips?
You find that light applications generate heat which needs to be removed for efficient performance. LED strips find use in lighting applications with heat generation and using MCPCBs helps to effectively dissipate the heat.
When using an MCPCB in making your LED strip, you achieve:
With an MCPCB, you experience no thermal build-up on the board surface which ensures no thermal strain. As a result, you get an extended service life from your LED strip.
Increased LED Density
When using an MCPCB in an LED strip, you achieve high thermal conductivity. Consequently, you can employ more LEDs on your board without affecting its thermal performance.
How Do Copper And Aluminium Based MCPCB LED Strips Compare?
You can employ copper or aluminium as your metal core in an MCPCB LED strip. The following highlight the differences between the two metals:
- Copper-based MCPCB LED strip offers you better thermal performance compared to the lower ability of an aluminium-based MCPCB LED strip.
- You find copper is heavier than aluminium making the machining process of a copper-based MCPCB LED strip difficult.
- Copper is an expensive metal than aluminium thus copper-based MCPCB LED strip are costlier to produce.
- You note that copper corrodes easily when compared to aluminium making copper-based MCPCB LED strips susceptible to corrosive environments.
What Surface Finishes Can You Use With MCPCB LED Strips?
When making an MCPCB LED strip, you can employ different PCB surface finishes for your conductive surface including:
PCB surface finish
- HASL (Hot Air Solder Leveling)
- OSP (Organic Solder Preservative)
- ENIG (Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold)
- Immersion Tin
- Immersion Silver
What Are Some Of The Engineering Solutions To Consider When Making MCPCB LED Strips?
You can employ different PCB engineering solutions when making MCPCB LED strips such as:
- Modelling the boards to a controlled impedance.
- Executing design rule checks on your MCPCB LED strips.
- Designing your MCPCB LED strips for manufacturability optimizing processes such as fabrication, assembly and testing.
For all your MCPCB LED strip, contact Venture Electronics now.