Aluminum Backed PCB

LED, (Light Emitting Diode) PCBs are basically a PCB design that its substrate is made of aluminum in almost all cases with the exception of a few designs using copper and brass. The design usually includes an aluminum/copper core that attaches the PCB circuitry by a very thin piece of dielectric that is formulated to not only conduct the most energy to the aluminum/copper core but to also exhibit very good adhesion/peel strengths. Some of the major benefits for these designs are;

  • Cost. This is compared to heat sink designs.
  • Packaging. The design allows sufficient thermal dissipation in a very small overall package.
  • Increased thermal efficiency. This is because the LED base is attached to a very thin dielectric that is attached to the aluminum in most cases vs old designs that had a heat sink attached to a standard PCB.
  • Increased density of LED’s per design because of thermal properties.

Manufacturing these types of PCBs are generally very easy. The most difficult portion is the machining and drilling of the aluminum/copper in a way that does not tear and or distort the very thin dielectric adhesive. Major cost drivers for manufacturing these designs are materials and machining time. The added cost of the materials is because of the proprietary thin dielectric that is used. Only a few manufactures supply it, and it is a very sophisticated product that needs to be carefully selected. The machining is a smaller additional cost compared to a standard PCB but still has to be accounted for since machining can take upwards of ten times longer on aluminum PCBs and up to 15 times longer on copper PCBs compared to standard material boards.

Lastly, because of the growing interest in LED lighting in practically all industries, more and more technology is emerging. One of the latest is a new substrate that improves efficiency by reducing the LED’s operating temperature by 30 to 50°C. This is accomplished by allowing the base of the LED to contact the heatsink without the thin dielectric in-between. This technology has been embraced by the automotive industry and we are sure it will be adopted by other industries soon.

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