Aluminum PCBs - Things You Need To Know

Aluminum PCBs - Things You Need To Know


There are different methods of aluminum usage in PCB manufacturing industry. Mostly the aluminum PCBs are used for LED lighting applications.Their technical name is Insulated Metal Substrate or IMS PCBs.


The aluminum here is used as the carrier of the copper and heat sink applications. For examples, this type of PCB is used for high power LED (1W, 3W, 5W etc.,) applications, control system parts, motor control, power conversion, power transduces and power delivery systems etc. Nowadays these types of PCBs are replacing the FR-4 PCBs in domestic lighting applications.  




The basic construction structure of an IMS PCB includes: the aluminum foil material is placed at the bottom, then the composite resin material which is electrical insulator but thermally conductive, finally at the top the copper foil or laminate and then pressed under high pressure and temperature.


Common PCB thickness is 1.6mm, 100µm ceramic isolation layers and 35µm copper foil over the insulation layer. The tracks are made of the copper laminate layer. Components are also placed and soldered on the copper layer side. 


The basic structure of an IMS PCB is shown in figure 1.


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Fig. 1:- Basic structure of IMS (Aluminum) PCB


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Fig. 2:- A high power LED mounted over an IMS PCB


Another form of aluminum PCBs is thick/ thin film ceramics - aluminum PCB which is a modified type of IMS. The conductor is applied over the core material i.e., ceramic material whereas the aluminum oxide or aluminum nitride is used as the base material that dissipates heat sufficiently. The thermal conductively of aluminum oxides is also very better. 


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Fig. 3:- Small power LED PCB assembled for lighting applications


Moreover, as compared to the FR-4, FR-5 or CEM-1/2 material, aluminum PCBs have various advantages over the described PCBs. The Aluminum is a low-cost metal and easily available. Its processing cost is also low. Their final products are low priced.


The Aluminum PCBs are environment-friendly, the excellent heat dissipater, more durable and lightweight.


By mechanical point of view, they are more rigid and reliable, increase product life and durability. From the electrical point of view, they are excellent in EMC-EMI shielding characteristics.