What Should You Know About Metal Core PCB

What Should You Know About Metal Core PCB

Metal Core PCB or commonly known as MCPCB are a class of Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) that contain metal as a base material in comparison to the conventional FR4. We design the core in such a way that it redirects heat away from the components. And we achieve this by using a metal core of a specified thickness which helps with heat dissipation. In this article, we will tell you more about the Metal Core PCB and how you can use them.

Properties of Metal Core PCB Board

In this section, we will take a look at the properties of MCPCB,

  1. Metal Core PCB Material

We mostly use aluminum for making the metal core in this case it is known as an aluminum core PCB. However, we can also use copper for making the metal core in this case it is known as a copper core PCB. We can use other conductive metals and a mixture of special alloys as well.

  1. Metal Core PCB Thickness

If we use aluminum as the metal core then its thickness is 0.8-2.0 mm. However, if we use copper as the metal core then its thickness is 1-5 mm. However, metal cores can deviate from these dimensions. So, thicker and thinner plates are possible.

  1. Metal Core PCB Thermal Conductivity 

The thermal conductivity of material shows how it allows heat to flow through it. So, it relates to the capability of a material to dissipate heat. Thermal conductivity of metal core PCB is typically between 1.5W/(m·K) and 2.0W/(m·K)

  1. Metal Core PCB Peeling Strength 

It is the force required to remove material from an attached surface. Peeling Strength of MCPCB is typically greater than 9lb/in.

Aluminum thickness 0.8-2.0mm
Thermal conductivity 1.5W – 2.0W/(m·K)
Peeling strength >9lb/in
Solder resistance SF: 288℃, >180 sec
Breakdown voltage >3000v
Dielectric loss angle 0.03
Flammability UL 94V-0
Aluminum thickness 0.8-2.0mm

Benefits and Features of Metal Core PCB Fabrication

  • When a PCB contains active components that generate a lot of heat then we need a PCB that can dissipate this heat.
  • Conventionally, we use FR4 for making the interior layers. Therefore, they are relatively poor thermal conductors. Hence, heat is usually dissipated from active components through thermal lands and vias. This increases fabrication costs and manufacturing steps.
  • On the other hand, when we use a metal core then it has a higher thermal conductivity. Therefore, it allows them to easily dissipate heat away from the active components. Hence, the heat is distributed more uniformly around the PCB.
  • It allows us to prevent hot spots that can form in conventional PCBs.
  • The laminates that we use in metal core PCB allow for faster heat dissipation in comparison to the FR4. This allows us to keep active components cooler and therefore, it increases their performance and lifespan.
  • So, an MCPCB helps us in improving the reliability of devices which operate at high temperature.
  • It allows us to remove heat from the active components and effectively get rid of it.
  • This has helped us in manufacturing such devices which don’t have any overheating problems and therefore, give a better performance.

Metal Core PCB vs. Standard PCB

In this section, we will draw a comparison between the MCPCB and Standard PCB.

  1. Conductivity

Standard PCB has a low thermal conductivity that is around 0.3W. Whereas MCPCB has a higher thermal conductivity which ranges from 1-2W.

  1. Plated Through Holes

In standard PCBs, we often have to use plated through holes. However, we don’t necessarily need them in MCPCB.

  1. Thermal Relief or Heat Dissipation

We have to use vias for heat dissipation in standard PCB. This means that there are longer drill cycles and additional processes. However, MCPCB doesn’t require via drilling, plating or deposition processes. This is because the metal core allows for efficient thermal relief and heat dissipation.

  1. Solder Mask

The solder mask is usually of dark colors in standard PCB. So, the colors are usually black, green, blue, and red. Hence, we apply the solder mask on the top and bottom. On the other hand, in MCPCB, we apply the solder mask to the top only and it is generally white in color.

  1. Thickness

Standard PCBs have a wide range of thicknesses available due to their use of layer mounts and various material combinations. However, the thickness variation in MCPCB is usually limited because of the available dielectric sheet thicknesses and backing plate thicknesses.

  1. Machining Process

Standard PCBs use conventional machining processes such as routing, countersink, drilling, and v-scoring. However, we need a diamond-coated saw blade for the v-scoring of MCPCB. This is because cutting of metals requires sharp tools.

  Standard PCB Metal Core PCB
Conductivity 0.3W 1-2W
Plated Through Holes Required Not Required
Heat Dissipation Vias Metal Core
Solder Mask Dark Color White Color
Thickness Wide Range Limited
Machining Process Ordinary tools Sharp tools

Applications of Metal Core PCB

In this section, we will take a look at some of the applications of MCPB.

Military and Aerospace

  • The PCBs in military and aerospace applications must withstand extreme temperatures, thermal cycling, and moisture. Additionally, they have to endure frequent mechanical shocks.
  • Hence, we use a metal core PCB board because they meet these service requirements and allow for greater structural integrity. Therefore, the system is capable of withstanding greater mechanical shocks.
  • The thermal conductivity of MCPCB is high. Therefore, there is uniform temperature distribution on these boards. So, they are better able to withstand thermal cycling and hence prevent the formation of hot spots near active components.

Lighting and LEDs

  • MCPCBs are often suited for such applications which generate a large amount of heat which we can’t eliminate using conventional fans. Therefore, conductive cooling by using metal core PCB technology is a viable option.
  • We often find MCPCBs in LED technologies because they allow us to reduce the number of LEDs required for producing a certain amount of illumination.
  • LEDs release a lot of heat. The use of MCPCBs in these LED products allows us to reduce the amount of generated heat.
  • Similarly, we can use MCPCBs in solar panels and motion control so that they can effectively dissipate heat.

MOKO Technology is a renowned name in the PCB industry and we are known for our quality services. If you are looking for customized metal core PCB manufacturing for your needs then you are in the right place. Feel free to contact us for further details about our services. Hoping to hear from you soon.

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