Metal Core PCB Design
Venture has worked on thousands of LED lighting projects by providing aluminum (metal-core, copper base) printed circuit boards that are with leading technology of heat dissipation.
Your Leading Metal Core PCB Design Supplier in China
Venture is not only an expert metal core circuit board manufacturer but also experienced in the metal core PCB design field, we deal with metal core PCBs every day, we know more about metal core materials than any other design firms since we build metal core PCBs every day under different design and using a different brand of materials.
We at Venture always share with you the latest technology and popular materials, which with better performance but cheaper cost, this will always bring you on top of your market from the metal core PCB design stage, perfectly suitable for nowadays fast changing market.
Your Premier Metal Core PCB Design Supplier
We have a full range of well-known materials in stock to meet your metal core PCB design, such as Totking, Bergquist, Laird, Kinwong, Doosan, ITEQ, Shengyi, Polytronics, Iteq, Arlon, Ventec, we can also suggest local good quality metal core PCB base raw material manufacturer that fit your projects, and most important—reduce your cost .
Why Choose Venture Aluminum PCBs
Through our 2 hours rapid response services from our 24/7 sales and tech support team, and excellent after-sales service, we will be your best metal core PCB design partner in China. At Venture we can answer any metal core PCB design questions that you may have, pls feel free to contact us anytime.
Nowadays the biggest application for metal core PCB design is LED lighting products, the LED lighting products are everywhere in our daily life, such as Street Light, car lights, back light and so on, if you have chances open the LED lights bulbs, you will see most of them have aluminum PCBs inside.
So is that mean aluminum is our only choice for your metal core PCB design?
The answer is no. Metal core PCB design can also use copper(Cu core, copper core ), steel alloy and stainless steel to be the base material.
In metal Core PCB design( Metal core printed circuit board design), the reason why engineer chooses metal material instead of traditional FR4 or CEM3 PCBs is that of metal has more strong ability to dissipate components’ heat.
General speaking, aluminum is absolutely the most economic option considering thermal conductivity, rigidness, and cost, compared to copper, steel alloy, and stainless steel.
Venture metal core PCB design team has worked on thousands of LED lighting design projects by using aluminum, copper base for heat dissipation, we are trusted by thousands of electronic engineers all around the world through our100% quality guaranteed policy.
PCB & Assembly Catalog
Download the FREE PCB & Assembly Catalog online today! Venture will be your best partner on the way of bring your idea to market.
Metal Core PCB Design: The Ultimate FAQ Guide
What is Metal Core PCB Design?
Metal core PCBs are circuit boards which have a metal as the base material.
The main purpose of the core is to direct heat away from components that produce a lot of heat.
In most instances, the abbreviation MCPCB is used in reference to metal core PCBs.
Metal core PCB
What are the Benefits of Metal Core PCB Design?
i. Thermal Conductivity
This refers to the ability of a material to conduct heat. It is most critical in PCBs incorporating materials with very high inter-layer insulation.
Thermal conductivity is the main distinguishing factor between MCPB conventional PCBs.
The latter usually have very low inter-layer insulation which makes them bad conductors of heat. This can result in damage of mounted components on such boards.
Also, the robust thermal conductivity found in MCPCBs, however, protects the components from damage.
Another advantage of metal core PCBs is that they are able to dissipate heat efficiently.
This enables them to remove all heat from the ICs due to the thermally conductive dielectric layer and the metal core base.
The heat sinks then remove the heat.
In comparison to other PCBs, metal core PCBs have better dimensional stability.
Any of the base materials used in metal core PCBs can stand very high temperature when they are heated.
Metal core PCBs have both good thermal conductivity and heat dissipation properties.
These properties protect them against distortions when heat is induced. It makes MCPCBs the most preferred boards in high switching power applications.
This property refers to the ability to contract when cooled and to expand when heated.
Different materials have different coefficients of thermal expansion. Metal core PCBs are able to withstand both the contractions and expansions.
This property enhances the resilience of equipment made from metal core PCBs.
What are the Disadvantages of Metal Core PCB?
i.Most Metal Core PCBs are Expensive
Metal core PCBs are more expensive compared to typical FR4 PCBs. This can be attributed to the metal layer and the high interlayer insulation needed.
Metal core PCBs are heavier compared to other PCBs due to the metal layer used. It, therefore, results in heavier applications, which are not very convenient to carry.
iii.Complex Component Mounting Process
Mounting of components onto metal core PCBs is a much more complex process compared to standard boards.
This is even more complicated when you are electrically interconnecting the top and the bottom layers.
How Does FR4 PCB Compare to Metal Core PCB Design?
In terms of thermal conductivity, the FR4 PCB has inferior capabilities. Their performance is tagged at around 0.3W.
On the other hand, metal core PCBs have very high thermal conductivity capabilities. This ranges from 1.0W to 4.0W.
·Plated Through Holes
In FR4 PCBs, plated through holes are commonly used when mounting components.
In metal core PCBs, plated through holes are not used in the single-layered board. All the components in such metal core PCBs are usually surface-mounted.
For effective thermal relief, FR4 PCBs usually rely on vias to transfer heat. This is achieved through some processes which involve longer drill cycles.
The metal core PCB, on the other hand, usually has its own mechanism for achieving thermal relief.
This eliminates processes such as via drilling and plating processes.
In FR4 PCBs, you will use a dark-colored solder mask, which can be red, black, blue or green. The solder mask is applied on both sides of the board.
For metal core PCBs, however, you will use a white solder mask, which is applied on the top only.
FR4 PCBs thickness is usually determined by the number of layers and the material combinations used.
Metal core PCBs have limited thickness, which depends on the thickness of the backing plate and the dielectric sheet.
FR4 PCB uses different machining practice compared to a metal core PCB. The practices involved in FR4 include drilling, routing, v-scoring, countersink and counterbore.
V-scoring metal core PCBs requires the use of diamond-coated saw blades because of the strain involved when cutting into metal.
What Should You Consider in Metal Core PCB Design?
Metal core PCB design
When designing a metal core PCB, there are some considerations that you are supposed to make.
It is important to note that most metal core PCBs are designed to have a single layer and take only surface mount components.
When you have a two-layered metal core PCB, you will incorporate a number of strategies.
First, you will need to pre-drill the board. You will then have to fill the pre-drills with insulation before you re-drill the board. It is the re-drill that will help you form the plated through holes.
Failure to follow this process is likely to contribute to short-circuiting.
For two or more layers of metal core PCBs, you will simply use the usual standard PCB process. However, in the place of FR4, you will use thermal dielectric material.
Additionally, you will also incorporate a metal backing plate laminated to the bottom to aid in thermal transfer.
CEM-3 PCB vs. MCPCB, How Do They Compare?
Metal core PCBs will efficiently dissipate heat away from the board’s components due to the thermally conductive dielectric layer.
CEM-3 PCB, on the other hand, lacks a conductive dielectric layer but relies on heat sinks to dissipate heat.
These heat sinks are not as effective, resulting in poor heat dissipation.
CEM 3 PCB
Why Use SMT in Metal Core PCB?
There are some critical considerations that you need to make when manufacturing metal core PCBs.
Most profoundly, keep the design in a single layer and opt for surface mount devices only.
The preference for SMT is because of the base material. When you use PHT technology, there is the likelihood of electric shorts because the metallic base is also conductive.
This will be against the reason as to why metal core PCBs are manufactured. The heat generated by the components is not supposed to get to the core directly.
There should be a dielectric material in between to transmit the said heat to the core for dissipation.
How Does MCPCB Compare to Normal Printed Circuit Boards?
Metal core PCBs have very effective heat dissipation capabilities compared to normal printed circuit boards.
This can be attributed to the properties of base materials used in making these boards, including aluminum, copper and steel alloy.
Together with the dielectric layer, any of these materials can help your board withstand heat effectively. In normal PCB boards, such provisions as core and dielectric materials are not used.
This makes the boards susceptible to heat. This ultimately damages normal PCBs since the life of semi-conductor junctions is reduced.
Metal core PCBs also have effective thermal conductivity properties owing to the thick metal core in these PCBs. These allow for effective conduction of heat across the board.
Normal PCBs, on the other hand, do not have these cores. As a result, they cannot effectively conduct heat.
In normal PCBs, you will use plated through holes in mounting some of the components. In metal core PCBs, this is different.
Metal core PCBs do not use plated through holes in one-sided PCBs. All the components used in these PCBs have to be surface-mounted.
Normal PCBs rely on vias to transfer heat. For metal core PCBs, thermal relief is through the dielectric materials used.
Where Can You Use MCPCB?
Thermal efficiency is essential in different audio equipment. You can use single-sided metal core printed circuit boards in manufacturing these electronics.
·Relays (Automotive and Industrial)
Thermal clad printed circuit boards are usually used in the automotive industry. This is because there is a need for a board that can sustain long operating times under high temperatures.
MCPCB is also preferred for its compact nature that enables it to fit in small spaces. This results in effective space utilization.
Single layer PCBs are also used in making LED lights. This is because they can sustain the high operating temperatures involved.
They also guarantee excellent brightness to both LED bulbs and devices.
Metal core PCBs has the most desirable thermal conductivity capabilities. This translates into a timely and efficient transfer of the heat generated. For any sensor product, this feature is a necessity.
Venture Electronics Uses Which Material Metal Core PCB Design?
There are only three base materials that are used in the manufacture of metal core PCBs. These materials include aluminum PCB, copper base PCB and iron base PCB.
At Venture Electronics, we mainly use aluminum, especially owing to its favorable cost. However, copper and iron are also used.
When you compare aluminum to copper, it is cheaper, and has effective heat transfer capabilities. It can also dissipate heat efficiently.
Apart from copper being an expensive metal, it has better performance capabilities in terms of heat transfer and dissipation
This is also called aluminum metal core. This is an insulated metal substrate with three layers. The first layer is made of a circuit layer which is made of copper.
The second layer is the dielectric layer. This is usually a layer between the copper layer and the aluminum core.
The third layer is the substrate layer. This is composed of aluminum. We have a number of metal layers to pick from, including 1001, 3001, 5052 and 6063.
There are a number of benefits when you choose an aluminum PCB. First, the price is favorable compared to that of copper. It also boosts low operating temperature and reduces the size of the board.
Aluminum also improves the power density, and the lifespan of the dies are also extended by aluminum PCB. Another benefit is the improved durability of the product.
2.Copper Core MCPCB
This is usually composed of the copper substrate, an insulated layer and copper core.
This kind of metal core PCB has some of the best qualities ever in terms of heat conduction and dissipation. However, they are costly.
Copper Core PCB
At Venture Electronics, we manufacture a number of copper core PCBs for our customers for the production of various LED products.
3.Iron Based MCPCBs
For these PCBs, we use iron-based materials. These materials usually include special steel and silicon steel in place of FR4 or CEM1.
They dissipate heat away from the components of the board and distribute it to less sensitive areas like the heat sinks.
The manufacture of this type of board needs a lot of technological input for the best results.
How Does Venture Electronics Control Quality of MCPCB?
At Venture, we have put a number of measures to ensure that quality is achieved when manufacturing MCPCBs.
The Design Rules Check (DRC) is one of the parameters we adhere to. It helps us ensure that the products are of the recommended quality.
This helps us in detecting any error that might be in the layout from the customer. We also check on the routing layout presented by the customer.
All these are checked in an automated process.
Venture quality testing laboratory
DRC helps to check on the board’s components placement and assess trace routing integrity for the overlapping components and untraced pins.
We are also able to check on the layer placement. All these factors help in detecting whether the metal core PCB will be of quality.
For electrical testing, Ventures Electronics uses a number of tests to ensure that the PCB produced is of quality.
For prototype orders, flying-probe e-test is done for small volumes. Flying-probe tester checks for short-circuiting and open circuits.
An automated visual inspection machine is also used to check the inner layers, especially for the case of multilayered metal core PCBs.
This helps in detecting line width violations, excessive copper, short circuits and missing pads. We prefer this method for its precision and consistency, as opposed to manual inspection.
We are certified under UL and RoHS and adhere to the requirements when manufacturing metal core PCB.
Does Venture Electronics Help in Metal Core PCB Design Process?
With the experience we have built over the years, we take up all the processes involved in processing your MCPCB.
We design metal core PCBs for our customers and guarantee them the best quality. The design process is done by experts guaranteeing you a quality final product.
How Does MCPCB Help in Thermal Management?
If you are using LED power, there is the likelihood of hitches at or above 80 watts. In an application like street lighting, the lights usually need up to 150 watts for each of the lamps.
The thermal resistance of the LED light used has to be taken into consideration at this point.
This explains the importance of thermal management in LEDs using metal core PCBs.
The connection between LED and the metal core circuit board is usually established using a thermal via.
The vias are designed in different planes to help reduce the overall temperature of the system by at least 10°C.
Metal core PCBs are usually created using heat dissipating materials. Copper, for example, has enhanced thermal conductivity capabilities.
To attain maximum thermal management, you will have to use external heat sinks. This is only necessary when handling enormous amounts of heat.
The heat conducted through metal core PCBs is usually dissipated through convection and radiation.
What is the Arrhenius Equation? Why is it Important in Metal Core PCB Design?
Arrhenius equation refers to the measure of dependence of reactions on varying temperatures. It is essential as far as thermal management in electronic systems is concerned.
Thermal management is responsible for transferring heat from individual components to thermal sinks.
It ensures that the temperature of all the components is maintained so that they can function well.
If the temperatures are not contained, then the metal core board will reach the functional temperature, which can result in operational errors.
On the other hand, the maximum temperature limit is favorable. The component can function safely at this temperature.
Arrhenius equation, thus, helps us determine the rate at which a component can fail.
What are the Types of MCPCB Available in the Market?
There are many types of Metal Core PCBs available in the current market.
·Single Layer MCPCB
This is the simplest type of metal core PCB design. It is made of a metal base made from aluminum, copper or steel alloy on one side of the board.
Single layer MCPCB
It also has a dielectric layer, which is a non-conducting layer. This is then followed with a layer of copper and the intended IC components.
The core, which is made of either copper or aluminum, enables this type of MCPCB to have mechanical integrity.
It ensures that heat is transferred to a heat sink or the mounting surface. Alternatively, it can transfer the heat directly into the ambient air.
Single-sided metal core PCB can be effectively used with surface mount components. It also incorporates chip and wire components.
This type of metal core PCB usually has a micro-chip that directly touches the metal core.
The micro-chip performs two main functions: it dissipates heat and assists in the electrical interconnection of the traces of the circuit board.
The latter function results in power supply across the board.
Normal metal core PCBs have a dielectric layer between trace copper and metal core. The dielectric layers also function effectively to limit thermal conductivity value in such boards.
Besides, the resulting value is usually pegged at 1~3 W/m.K.
However, with the use of COB metal core PCB, the dielectric layer is not important.
The die will touch the metal core directly; hence, the conductivity value of COB MCPCB will equal that of the metal core material.
If your metal core is aluminum, then the thermal conductivity of the COB metal core PCB will exceed 200W/m.K.
As you manufacture the chip-on-board, ensure that you follow the recommended steps. The first step involves mounting the die, after which you should bond and encapsulate the wires.
·Double Layer MCPCB
For double layered metal core PCBs, two layers of copper conductor are placed on one side of the metal core.
The metal core is at the bottom of the board. This is different from the double-sided metal core PCB. SMDs are only mounted on the top side of double layers.
The difference between double layered PCB and double-layered PCB lies in the need for another pressing step.
The pressing is vital as it enables lamination of the imaged thermal conductive laminate and the metal base.
This very complex process is what also differentiates it with the single layer MCPCB.
·Double Sided MCPCB
This type of metal core PCB also has two layers of copper conductors. The only difference with double layers metal core PCB is that it has the metal core in between two conductors. Both sides of the metal core have conductors.
You can connect the two sides using vias, and mount SMD components on both sides.
However, it takes more technological experience to laminate the layers with metal core.
Multi Layers MCPCB
These are metal core PCBs that have more than two conductive layers. They usually have a structure similar to FR4 multi-layer PCBs, but require much more expertise to make.
Note that you should ensure that the signal and ground layers are in different layers for excellent electrical performance.
What are Thermal Vias?
These are mechanically drilled through-hole-contacts from the top to the bottom of a PCB board. They are usually strategically placed under the components, and help to dissipate heat.
These vias are usually plaited with an extra layer of copper. This improves heat dissipation within the circuit board.
Why Do You Need Vias in MCPCB?
Vias in metal core PCBs usually provide a mechanism through which electrical signals pass through from layer to layer.
This explains the existence of different vias such as through vias, blind vias and buried vias.
Through vias are usually drilled from the top of the board to its bottom. These vias are necessary for heat dissipation in metal core PCBs.
Blind vias in metal core PCBs are drilled halfway into the board from either the top or the bottom layer.
These vias are necessary for connecting the internal and external layers of the metal core PCB.
The difference between blind vias and through vias is that blind via is open at one end. Through vias are, on the other hand, have a through-hole.
Buried vias are also used in metal core PCBs when necessary. They are used to connect the internal layer structures only.
Are Plated Through Hole Important in Metal Core PCB Design?
It is not advisable to use plated through hole components in your metal core PCB.
The base layer of metal core PCB is usually made of thick metal: copper, aluminum or iron.
If you use plaited through hole on this type of board, it is likely to lead to an electric short.
What is the Function of Thermal Conductive Prepreg?
It improves the thermal performance of a metal core PCB.
This is achieved by ensuring that heat generated from components is passed down to the core of the PCB.
MCPCB has Which Type of Thermal Conductive Dielectric?
In MCPCB, you can use silicone rubbers as a conductive dielectric.
Alternatively, you can also use boron nitride-filled or aluminum nitride-filled epoxies. You can then coat the materials you have chosen with diamond.
What is the Criteria for Choosing MCPCB Laminate?
There are three materials used in the manufacture of metal core PCBs. They are Aluminum base, Copper Base and Iron Base.
Aluminum usually has the best heat transfer and dissipation capabilities. It is also relatively cheaper.
Copper, on the other hand, has better performance capabilities. It is also expensive compared to aluminum.
Steel, which can be classified into stainless steel and normal steel, is more rigid compared to both aluminum and copper.
However, it has lower thermal conductivity compared to the other options.
The application you intend to make from the board, therefore, determines the choice of core material to be used.
If you are looking for lower operating temperature for the device and maximization of space, then aluminum is the best option.
The density of power is also increased, and the dies can have a longer life span. Aluminum PCBs also need fewer interconnections.
Can You Use Iron Based PCB for MCPCB Design?
Iron based PCBs are used in the manufacture of metal core PCBs. It is usually used as an alternative to both aluminum and copper.
Compared to aluminum and copper, iron offers low thermal conductivity. However, it is more rigid than the two.
Aluminum MCPCB vs. Copper MCPCB; How Do They Compare?
Both aluminum and copper have outstanding heat dissipation capabilities. However, copper MCPCB dissipates heat better than the aluminum PCPCB.
In terms of price, aluminum MCPB is cheaper than its copper counterpart. It is mostly for this reason that most MCPCB fabricators prefer aluminum to copper.
Can MCPCB Function as LED PCB?
Metal core PCBs are commonly used in the manufacture of LED lighting products. This is because of their capabilities to quickly conduct heat as required.
The excellent heat dissipation capabilities help the LED lights to function normally even in extreme temperatures.
Aluminum alloy is capable of reducing the temperatures by about 10 degrees Celsius.
How Does Venture Electronics Handle Metal Core PCB Design Process?
When designing metal core PCBs, we ensure that every component is placed on the top side of the board. The recommended snap grid for the board is 0.050”.
At Venture Electronics, we start with components that are intended to be in specific locations. These include connectors, switches, heat sinks and LEDs.
One thing that we are always keen on is to keep the trace lengths short. We also ensure that interdependent components are placed adjacent to each other to enable easy laying of traces.
Our placement of ICs, whether up-down or right-left, are always well aligned to so that pin one is at a central point. Polar parts have a similar orientation. We leave spaces between the ICs to host traces between them. Also, we observe absolute accuracy when measuring pin spacing and diameters.
Metal core PCB – Photo courtesy: PCB Core
With the component locations well identified, we then print the layout and place the components in their positions.
Before we proceed to the subsequent steps, we will verify that the spaces between components are adequate.
Once that is done, we proceed to lay the power and ground traces to strengthen the ICs. We use wide traces that connect to the shared rail for each supply.
When placing the signal traces, we use short and direct traces. The layers are connected using vias, which enable the connection between horizontal and vertical traces.
In both analog and digital signals, trace width is usually 0.010”, but can be slightly increased if high currents are expected.
Where narrower traces are used, we strictly insist on avoiding sharp right-angle turns. We will either use round turns or use two 45 degrees bends with a short leg in between.
After the whole process is complete, we do a thorough inspection of the routing to ensure we give you a perfect product. We use the schematic to ensure that everything is exactly as desired.
Are there Specific Design Considerations for MCPCB?
Metal core PCBs have distinctive features that separate them from other circuit boards. For these boards to function effectively, some considerations must be taken into account.
·Base Material Thickness
Metal core PCBs have a distinctive thickness compared to other boards. The most common measurements, in this case, are 1.0mm and 1.6mm.
The required quantity of copper affects the flatness of a metal core PCB. This means that you will have to consider the coefficient of thermal expansion regulations.
You will have to construct heavy copper together with your preferred base.
This construction will help prevent bowing. For effective drilling, scoring and routing, you will require a thicker dielectric.
The recommended dielectrics for metal core PCBs include 1.0 W/m.k., 1.5 W/m.k., and 2.0 W/m.k. The thickness of a dielectric determines its cost.
·Copper Circuit Foil
For metal core PCBs, use H oz, 1 oz, or 2 oz copper foils. This increases the current capability of the board.
In most PCBs, the solder masks used are usually green, black, red or blue. However, in metal core PCBs, use super bright white solder mask. This solder mask has a reflectivity of about 89%.
For solder pad finishes, you should go for either HASL or Pb-free HASL. These surface finishes are the most cost-effective.
However, there are also other options like tin or silver immersion and ENIG. Choose according to desired cost and durability.
For an aluminum PCB, you will have to give it a brushed finish. Anodized and irridite finishes are also possible, though they are much costlier.
In copper PCB, use brushed finish, or the more expensive electroless nickel if possible.
For a maximized material utilization, use v-scoring, whether for low or high volume production.
You can use punching when handling medium to high volume production. Punching incorporates complicated part geometries and can effectively sustain tight tolerances.
The internal holes are precisely created.
If you are working on small volumes, then milling becomes the best alternative.
·Radii on Corners
Ensure that both the internal and external corners have a base plate material thickness on each corner.
What is Insulated Metallic Substrate in PCB Design?
Insulate metallic substrate is usually made up of aluminum supports, insulation layers and copper foil.
This usually has double thermal conductivity capabilities and zero thermal impedance.
When you use IMS circuit boards, you can be assured of effective heat dissipation for all the board’s components.
What is the Maximum Temperature MCPCB Design Can Handle?
The maximum temperature that metal core PCBs can easily handle from 30 ℃ to 140 ~ 150 ℃.
How Can You Test the Quality of Metal Core PCB?
Metal core printed circuit board
With conventional PCB substrates, you will realize that they are poor conductors of heat. One of the chief reasons to go for MCPCBs is when heat dissipation is an essential factor.
The better the heat dissipation capabilities of your Metal core PCB, the higher its quality.
Both thermal expansion and contractions are critical considerations when manufacturing a PCB.
A good metal core PCB has a very low thermal expansion rate. It is also more resilient in times of increased temperatures.
The metal core should be able to effectively manage the generated heat leading to efficiency in terms of performance.
Metal core PCBs can also shield the components in times of electromagnetic interference. It is also able to stand in for the radiator and the other components.
MCPCBs made from copper and aluminum core have great magnetic shielding.
What is Thermal Pad PCB?
This is also referred to as thermal relief pad or simply thermal. It is a printed circuit board pad which is connected to copper pour with the aid of a thermal connection.
Copper spokes connect it to the surrounding copper. It is usually connected to just a few narrow tracks.
How Does Metal Core PCB Design Dissipate Heat?
Metal core PCBs usually have high thermal capabilities and high thermal conductivity that help in the dissipation of heat.
Typically, the metal core receives all the heat generated from the components through the dielectric prepreg.
The absorbed heat is then released into the atmosphere.
Metal core PCBs for high voltage products also have through, which also help to release the heat to the environment.
Do You Need Heat Sink in Metal Core PCB Design?
Multilayered metal core PCBs have heat sinks. These heat sinks usually aid in controlling heat. This helps the internal layers cool off in times of extreme heat.
Single layer MCPCBs, on the other hand, do not need heat sinks for heat dissipation.
Does Venture Electronics Fabricate Custom Metal Core PCB Design?
Metal core PCBs are usually fabricated with an application in mind. At Venture Electronics we fabricate metal core PCBs basing on this fact.
We employ the most recent technology in the manufacture of custom metal core PCBs that suite your specific applications.
How Does Metal Core PCB Construction Differ from Standard PCBs?
Any small change in material composition translates to the creation of a wholly new PCB. In metal core PCBs, the heavy core made of aluminum, copper or iron distinct the PCB from standard boards.
Standard boards have a substrate or a base which is usually made using fiberglass, polymers, ceramics or even a different non-metal core.
The substrate is commonly made using FR-4. This is usually preferred for its durability and favorable price.
In metal core PCBs, however, the board is made of a copper substrate, a dielectric prepreg and a metal core.
The substrate is usually made up of a metal core: aluminum, copper or iron. The metal core gives the board certain advantages, especially in terms of better thermal conductivity and expansibility regulation.
Are there Double Sided Metal Core PCB?
Double sided metal core PCB – Photo courtesy: Andwin
There are double sided MCPCBs. This type of metal core PCB usually has two layers of copper conductor.
This metal core PCB has its metal core between the two conductors. Both the sides of double sided metal-core PCBs have conductors.
The two sides of the PCB are connected using vias. You can mount SMDs on both sides of the double-sided metal core PCB.
How thick is MCPCB Material?
Since aluminum is the most common type of metal core PCB, we use its measurements. The thickness of this metal core PCB ranges from 30mil to 125 mil.
You can, however, make thinner plates if need be. For the copper foil thickness, 1-10 oz is usually ideal.
What are the Critical Stages in Metal Core PCB Manufacturing and Fabrication?
Step 1: It involves designing the PCB. This is done using appropriate software to give you a blueprint of what you intend to make.
It is this finished metal core PCB design that is sent to the manufacturer.
Step 2: The second stage involves the printing of the metal core PCB design. Black ink is used to identify copper traces while clear ink is used to denote non-conductive areas.
The outer layer has a reverse of this.
Step 3: Here, copper is pre-bonded to a piece of laminate, which then serves as the PCBs structure. Etch away copper to reveal the blueprint. You will use ultraviolet light in strengthening the resist.
Next, wash the board using an alkaline solution. This will help in removing all the remaining photoresist.
Step 4: This is where you get rid of unnecessary copper. To achieve this, wash the board with an equally powerful solution.
After this stage, do a thorough inspection and alignment. Use the holes from the previous steps to help you in the alignment.
To ensure that there are no flaws, you will use an optical inspection machine.
Step 5: Laminating the PCB layers. In metal core PCBs, the outer layer is made of a copper foil. Use metal clamps to press the layers of the PCB together.
Step 6: Drilling the board. Locate the drill spots using an X-ray machine. Using computer-aided drill will give you more precise drills.
Step 7: Involve the plaiting of the board. With the use of a chemical, all the layers can be fused together. Wash the PCB in a series of chemicals to cover it with a thick copper layer. This covers the previously drilled holes.
Step 8: Imaging and plating the outer layer. Add a coat of tin to protect the copper on the outer layer of the metal core PCB.
Step 9: Here, etching is done to the outer layer for the last time. .After you have washed the unwanted copper, the metal core PCB is now ready for the solder masking stage.
Step 10: Apply solder mask to the board, then subject it to ultraviolet light. This marks portions of the solder mask that should be removed. The resulting piece of solder mask will now have to be baked in the oven.
Step 11: Finish the PCB with silkscreen. Since you are manufacturing metal core PCB, HASL offers you the best surface finish material. This protects the copper and then components.
After this, conduct electrical tests on the board before you start cutting the board.
Once you are well-satisfied with the quality of the board, you can now cut the individual PCBs from the larger board. You can use V-scoring, or the other suitable methods to cut the board.
Does Thermal Expansion Affect Metal Core PCB Design Performance?
Metal core PCB
Coefficient of thermal expansion describes expansion and contraction of substrate materials under fluctuating temperatures.
Aluminum and copper usually have high coefficients of thermal expansion compared to FR4. They also have a very high thermal conductivity which is.8~3.0 W/c.K.
This is an indication that thermal expansion will hardly affect the performance of metal core PCBs.
Are there Flexible Metal Core PCBs?
There are flexible metal core printed circuit boards. In these boards, the prepreg is usually filled with ceramics instead of glass.
How Do You Choose MCPCB Components?
Without proper guidance, it can be challenging to select the appropriate components to be used in metal core PCB. When you have designed your metal core PCB, these tips will help you choose your components appropriately.
1.Bill of Materials — Necessary for all Virtual Parts
Bill of materials helps you in creating the virtual parts of metal core PCBs that you require in the process.
The BOM usually includes a list of all the components that you intend to mount onto the PCB. Having a BOM will, therefore, help in ensuring that you order for the correct components, with the exact intended specifications.
2.Reference Designators-Help in Reviewing of the BOM
The main purpose of having reference designators is to assist you in properly arranging the BOM. They are also necessary for reviewing the BOM. You should ensure that they are instantly assigned numbers.
3.Basic Design Outline
Just before you release the prototype design, design outline will help you to have a basic idea of component position.
This also gives you an idea of how best to position the components on the board. It will help you identify the needed height and will be a precursor in showing you how the plan will work.
This will be in terms of the comprehensive functioning and electronic functioning.
4.Need Proper Ground Planes
In the design it is important that you first find out whether it has bypassed the capacitors and ground planes.
The application of the PCB will help you determine the capacitors that you will require. This will also include their sizes and even frequencies.
Also, the design should also help you determine the appropriate grounding planes and avoid the capacitors.
5.Think about Footprint
In the schematic drawing phase, ensure that the correct footprint and land pattern choices are made. This will be important for the design stage.
Land patterns refer to the setup of the pads when using either surface mount technology or through-hole technology.
These are very useful when you are physically attaching or electronically connecting components to a PCB. With the appropriate land design, you can easily match the set up of the leads on a component.
This is an equally significant tip for your PCB design. You will have to identify the appropriate components.
This is because there are, for example, some components that have a number of height limitations. You should consider how this will affect the covering of both the top and the bottom sides of the PCB.
8.Choose Surface Mount Technology or Plated Through Hole?
When you are designing your MCPCB, you can change your component choices.
You can decide during the design process which of the components will be surface mount or plated through-hole components. This can help the whole arrangement of the PCB.
As you select the components, you will also be considering issues such as costs, accessibility and component’s area density.
For our case, coefficient of thermal expansion and dissipation are some of the major considerations.
Attention must be paid to these attributes to come up with an appropriate metal core PCB.
9.Review Spare Gates
It is equally important to ensure that the spare gates have inputs. These inputs have to be connected to the signal to prevent input’s floating.
Review the spare gates goal, which is to ensure that unwired sources can be connected when there is need.
In some instances, if you leave all the input sources to float, the functioning of the whole board can be affected.
Are there Metal Core PCB Design Guidelines?
Yes, there are guidelines. In understanding the design guidelines for a metal core PCB, it is important to first understand the standard FR4 board.
In most standard PCBs, a thick layer of FR4 is usually used to provide structural stability. This is also used in multilayered PCBs to stabilize the layers.
Also, in metal core PCB design, there are many guidelines that you should follow in component selection, placement and multilayer routing.
Metal core PCBs are made using copper, iron or aluminum in their base. Their external layers, however, are made similarly with those of FR4 PCBs.
The most important issue, therefore, is to adhere to every requirement that will help to achieve the main objectives.
Ensure that factors such as base material thickness, flatness and surface finish are strictly taken care of. These are the factors that will determine the current capability and heat dissipation qualities of the MCPCB.
What is V-scoring in Metal Core PCB?
V scoring in PCB – Photo courtesy: PCB Way
This refers to the process used in mechanical pre-separation of metal core printed circuit boards. With the use of a cutting tool, a v-shaped line is first formed precisely on the board.
There are a number of rules to be followed when cutting these boards. These score-lines have to be straight.
When running horizontal and vertical lines, ensure that you run them from the outer edge of the circuit board.
This should run through to another outer edge. It is also recommended that the board you are cutting be at least 1mm in thickness to guarantee stability.
Is there Minimum Conductor Width for a Metal Core PCB?
For 1 layer metal core PCB, the minimum conductor width should measure between 150um and 200um.
The minimum conductor width for a two layered metal core PCB should also have the same measurements.
What is the Minimum Conductor Spacing/Air Gap for Metal Core PCBs?
Both the outer and inner layer tracing should measure within at least 0.003” and 0.004”.
Are there Recommended Surface Finish Material for MCPCB?
The recommended surface finish material for metal core PCBs is HASL. Alternatively, you can use Pb-free HASL.
Other options include tin immersion, silver immersion, and ENIG.
You will have to check on the cost and quality of all these finishes before you choose on the most appropriate.
What is the Minimum Drill Hole Diameter for Metal Core PCBs?
In metal core PCBs, the recommended drilling diameter is supposed to measure 1.0mm.
For the smallest final diameter, 0.3mm will be enough. This prevents the drills from getting damaged in the adjacent drill holes.
Is there a Difference Between Heavy Copper PCB Design and Metal Core PCB Design?
Heavy copper PCB
There is no functional difference between heavy copper PCB and metal core PCB design. In both PCBs, the cores are made with heavy metal.
They both aid in improving the resilience of a PCB towards heat. They also enhance dissipation and are favorable for devices that use a lot of electric currents.
However, metal core PCBs can be made from different metals. These include copper, aluminum and iron. On the other hand, heavy copper PCB only uses copper in its core.
Do MCPCBs Have Maximum Current Carrying Capacity?
Metal core PCBs have a maximum current carrying capacity. For instance, 1oz copper can sustain up to 500mΩ per square inch. 10oz can perform ten times better, at 5000mΩ per square inch.
This means that as you increase the current path, the current carrying capacity increases.
Can You Improve Heat Spreading Capacity of Metal Core PCB Design?
Yes. Heat spreading capacity of metal core PCBs is usually improved by the use of thermal vias. The vias are usually inserted in between the layers of the board.
This gives them the ability to spread out heat uniformly in the whole board.
The heat is spread until it reaches the core, which in turn releases it into the outer environment.
Alternatively, you can use via hole to spread the heat in the whole board and release it to the external environment.
Is Metal Core PCB Proof-test Important?
It is crucial that you proof-test your metal core PCBs. If you fail to test the MCPCB, you won’t be able to detect flaws.
In most instances, these problems emerge during the production phase. If they are not detected early, these flaws will cause failure and defects in the board.
Various testing procedures will help you detect these problems. You can use a visual automated inspection machine to identify most of the defects.
In some instances, manual inspections also turn out to be effective in addressing some issues.
These tests should be done in all the stages of production. You should also test the capacitors, the diodes and the resistors.
Some of these components need experts. Do not check them by yourself unless you have the requisite expertise to avoid further destruction.
What is the Importance of Creepage Distance and Discharge in MCPCB Design?
Creepage distance is the space in between various parts of the metal core PCB operating under different voltages.
This is important as it prevents unacceptable risks such as electric shorts on the components.
Are Metal Core PCB Designs Dimensionally Stable?
Metal core PCBs are more dimensionally stable compared to FR4 or CEm3 PCBs. This is very useful and conspicuous when metal core PCBs are subjected to high temperatures.
Take for example, when you heat a metal core PCB from 30 degrees Celsius to 140 or 150 degree Celsius.
The dimensions of the metal core PCB board will only expand by 2.5 to 3%.
What are the Mechanisms of Heat Transfer in MCPCB?
In metal core PCBs, the dielectric layer absorbs heat. This happens when the current flows through the circuits.
The heat is then transferred to the aluminum layer. At this point, the heat is dispersed.
With high light output, there is always an increase in heat. This thermal resistance helps to extend the life of the finished product.
Does Venture Electronics Fabricate Metal Core PCB Prototype?
At Venture Electronics, we understand the importance of fabricating metal core PCB prototype. We do this before rolling out production of your metal core PCB.
This allows us to detect flaws that might be in your design or our intended production procedure. We then correct these early enough before rolling out the final product, thus saving you time and money.
Why Trust Venture Electronics for Metal Core PCB Design?
Venture Electronics is one of the longest metal core PCB design manufacturing companies. This has equipped us with tremendous experience, which is necessary to become a top-quality manufacturer.
The vast experience demonstrates our competence as far as metal core PCB manufacture is concerned. We are hence able to conform to emerging technologies to give you the best results.
Venture Electronic is also certified by all the relevant bodies in the PCB industry. We only use certified materials in the manufacture of your metal core printed circuit boards.
Our experts are the most qualified and experienced. Again, our customer care services are more than efficient. You will always get timely and accurate information on the state of your order throughout the production process.
You will always enjoy secure and undeterred communication between you and us wherever you are worldwide. You can be assured that you will easily reach us, and your quotes will reach you in the shortest time possible.
Unlike some companies out there which broker PCB products, we manufacture all PCBs, including MCPCB. You don’t have to get a middle man to connect us into a business.
We offer you some of the best MCPCB prices because we do the whole production process, thus maintaining lower production costs. We are also able to offer awesome discounts when you order for certain volumes.
We are also able to make you a prototype of the metal core PCB you intend to make. This saves you the losses you would incur if a proper assessment is not done before rolling out full production.
We also offer shipping services for all our products. Without proper packaging and shipping, the products may get spoilt while in transit. Engage us, and you won’t be disappointed.