If the PCBs or the Printed Circuit Boards need to be made flexible or rigid, as per the requirement, the design becomes completely unique. That is, no two designs of PCBs are the same. At first, the main aim and the functionality of the circuit board are determined. With respect to the work that it will perform, the specification of the circuit board is estimated. With this specification, the corresponding design is done. Usually, the base material that is used in the PCBs is made up of fibreglass. However, at present, the PCBs with aluminium base are also becoming popular. These are in demand as the advantages of aluminum PCB are numerous. These aluminium based PCBs generally have a high thermal conductivity with a copper-clad laminate. Electric insulation is also done.
Composition of Aluminium Based PCBs
The aluminium based PCBs mainly contain different foils of copper. Generally, three layers can be found. They are-
? The Circuit Layer ? This one mainly contains the circuit, with the thickness of copper varying from 1 to 10 oz on average.
? The Insulation Layer ? This layer is a highly protective layer and acts as a thermal insulator, with a very low thermal resistant material.
? The Base Layer ? This is the main base layer and is usually made up of a copper metal substrate or aluminium.
Aluminium Based PCBs: How Are They Made?
The aluminium based PCBs generally have a thermally conductive thin layer. This thin layer is also electrically insulating dielectric in nature, and has the lamination between a copper foil and metal base, mainly aluminium. The required pattern of the circuit is fetched into this copper foil, and the metal base acts as a conductor by taking the heat from the circuit via the thin dielectric layer.
Aluminium Based PCBs: What Are the Main Advantages?
There are multiple benefits of using aluminium based PCBs. The main advantages are provided below.
1. Reduces the Cost
Aluminium is naturally cheaper than most metals. It is also very easily available and has very simple mining and refining processes as compared to other high-end metals. As a result, using aluminium based PCBs automatically reduces the cost as compared to other metals. Therefore, any product manufactured with aluminium based PCB is also cheaper. Hence, the cost gets reduced.
2. Better To The Environment
Aluminium is one of the metals which is considered as non-toxic and is also very easily recyclable and reusable. It is also very easy to assemble aluminium. Hence, energy is conserved when aluminium is used. With such features, aluminium based PCBs are obviously better for the environment. Thus, using aluminium based PCBs help to reduce the toxic materials as well.
3. Dissipation of Heat
One of the primary enemies of electronic gadgets and equipment is heat. With the work processes going on continuously for hours, accumulation of heat due to the working takes place. If this accumulated heat is not dissipated, it can cause serious damage to the internals of the gadgets. Even without damage, accumulated heat reduces the productivity and the efficiency of any machine. Hence, the dissipation of the generated heat is very important. Using aluminium as the base material solves this problem. This is because aluminium acts as a natural conductor, and it absorbs and conducts the heat away from the essential internal components. Hence, the vital parts are protected from heat damage. As a result, the longevity of the circuit board has increased significantly.
4. Increase in Durability
Despite aluminium being thin and light meat, it is highly durable in nature. With the use of aluminium-based PCBs, the durability and the strength of the product is increased. As compared to the fibreglass or ceramic bases, the durability is much higher in the case of aluminium. Aluminium is naturally a sturdy metal, and using it as a base material is sure to make the product durable. Hence, the day to day usage, accidental falls, and pressures can be handled by the aluminium based PCBs.
5. Lightweight In Nature
Even though aluminium is an extremely durable material, the metal is also extremely lightweight, making it one of the lightest metals. This has a great advantage on the printed circuit boards. This is because aluminum adds the required strength and durability to the PCBs and at the same time makes them lighter. Everyone wants the end product to be lightweight. However, durability is also important. With the aluminium based PCBs, you can get the perfect blend of durable and lightweight.
Aluminium Based PCBs and Their Applications
The main advantage of the aluminium based PCBs is taken by the LEDs and the power converters. However, at present, bigger products such as military equipment, RF companies and even automotive are trying to use aluminium-based PCBs for their advantage. These constructions based on aluminium based PCBs are extremely helpful for many gadgets, and PCBs of different configurations are also available. The multi-layered PCBs cost more but are far more effective. Hence, they are more in use.
The different applications of aluminium based PCBs are given below.
? Flexible PCBs ? This is mainly used in connectors, cables, and fixtures. They provide flexibility. However, such products can be permanently bent when applied too much force.
? Hybrid PCBs ? This is used more in products which need active heat dissipation, need to be more rigid, and can act as shields. Since these are hybrids, the construction cost is also less. Component windows and RF products use such hybrid PCBs.
? Multilayer PCBs ? With the presence of multiple layers, these PCBs are highly efficient. This allows the integration of highly complex circuits and wires. Hence, complex products such as computers use such PCBs.
? Through-hole PCBs ? In this case, aluminium is pre-drilled. Electric insulation is maintained with the holes through the plates. This is a multilayer construction and is very effective for heat transmission.
Even though the materials used for constructing PCBs vary, we can see that using aluminium in manufacturing PCBs have a great all-round advantage. Therefore, the demand for aluminium based PCBs has gone up by quite a bit.