Metal-core PCB (MCPCB) consists of a circuit layer (copper layer), a dielectric layer (insulating layer), and a substrate layer (metal base layer). Metal-core PCB means that the base layer is metal, not the standard base such as FR4 or CEM1-3. It includes the aluminum-based PCB, copper-based PCB, and iron-based PCB.
The metals most commonly used by MCPCB manufacturers and PCB designers are aluminum, copper, and steel alloys. Aluminum has excellent heat transfer and heat dissipation capabilities, but with low price, copper has better performance but is relatively more expensive than aluminum. Steel can be divided into ordinary steel and stainless steel, it is harder than aluminum and copper, but its thermal conductivity is lower than them. People can choose the proper core materials for different applications in the PCB prototype and PCB assembly.
The importance of metal-core PCBs
Nowadays, the requirements of small size and high performance in electronics applications promote the PCB industries to improve the technology and update the materials continuously. Small size and high-density of components power result in high temperature and intense heat, which increases the damage risk and influences the performance of overall products. Primarily the PCBs used to install power components such as moto controllers and drivers, power amplifiers, LED modules, must be designed in terms of heat dissipation and temperature control. Metal-core PCBs are born at the right time. It meets the demands of many aspects of the electronics field. It has been proved its miraculous thermal reliability because it can speed up the heat transferred from heat sources to the metal substrate, thereby improving the performance and extending the application time of the devices and products.
Except for excellent heat dissipation capability, coefficient of thermal expansion（CTE） and dimensional stability coefficient are also the advantages of metal-core PCBs. The CTE is one of the fundamental physical properties of a material, different CTE of the metal base will show different thermal expansion and contraction. The deformation and stress effects caused by changes in temperature cannot be changed. Therefore, the selection of the printed board base should first consider whether the CTE of the material matches the CTE of the mounted components. The CTE and thermal conductivity of aluminum PCB and copper PCB have unique advance than normal FR4. Besides, the size of the metal-core PCBs is more stable than insulating materials. When heating the aluminum PCB from 30 ℃ to 140~150 ℃, the size changes 2.5~3.0%.
The price of metal-core PCBs depends on the copper foil thickness, thermal conductivity, and material sources. Aluminum PCB is very popular in the LED market due to the cost advantage. Because of the benefits, metal-core PCBs are widely applied in the fields from LED lights, power converters, motor controller, audio frequency apparatus, to photovoltaic applications.
If you need order aluminum PCBs or other metal materials, please contact online services. Experts in NextPCB will give you professional advice and solutions if you are challenging to choose which material is more suitable for your PCB design. Different metal-core PCBs solutions are available in PCB fabrication services, which including PCB prototype, PCB assembly, and turnkey service in PCB manufacturing.