While there are different varieties of PCBs used for a variety of applications, heavy copper PCBs seem to be getting more of the attention these days. These boards can be used for different applications and offer incredible benefits. Although they are costly to produce, they are still very much in high demand.
What are heavy copper PCBs? What purpose do they serve? Why should you use them?
These and more will be answered in this guide on the most important things everyone should know about these unique heavy copper printed circuit boards.
What are heavy copper PCBs?
First of all, there?s no general consensus on what makes a heavy copper PCB.
But over time, this term has been used to refer to printed circuit boards with up to 85 g or three ounces of copper on the external and internal layers. The term can also be used to describe circuit boards with more than 4 oz per ft2 of copper thickness.
Extreme Heavy Copper PCB
There?s another class of copper PCBs referred to as ?Extreme Heavy Copper PCB?.
This type of copper PCBs refers to those printed circuit boards that have a copper thickness of over 20 oz per ft2 as well as those whose external and internal layers have about 200 oz of copper deposition.
Heavy copper PCB has thicker plating and specialized etching
During the course of manufacturing heavy copper PCBs, a variety of specialized etching and plating techniques are usually employed. By using plated holes and sidewalls, manufacturers are able to add more copper thickness to the boards.
The thicker plating in the through-hole circuit, coupled with the combination of an appropriate substrate such as polyimide, accounts for the uniqueness of heavy copper PCB as one of the most reliable wiring platforms for electronics.
Why plate circuit boards with heavy copper?
There?s a reason why circuit boards are being plated with heavy copper.
Board fabricators do this to enhance the copper thickness of a printed circuit board through the sidewalls. It used to be that control circuits and high power circuits were produced on different boards separately. But by plating circuit boards heavily with copper, it has become much easier and possible to integrate high-current circuits into the simple board structure.
Because of the heavy copper feature, heavy copper PCBs can, therefore, be easily connected to a standard circuit board. Both heavy copper PCBs and standard PCBs can now be integrated with insignificant restrictions. The key, however, is to factor in manufacturing tolerances into the final design planning.
Heavy copper PCBs have an incredibly high thermal resistance
The properties of a heavy copper PCB combine to make it highly durable and super-efficient.
While these boards offer high endurance against temperature conditions, the copper-plated vias offer even more thermal resistance. The heavy copper PCB can, therefore, carry more current load at a much faster and efficient pace.
These boards have impressive mechanical characteristics
The connector sites, as well as the PTH holes of heavy copper PCBs, boast high mechanical power.
And because a lot of copper weight has been combined onto a single circuit board, the PCB is markedly smaller and compact. This introduction of exotic materials into the circuit board offers more mechanical power, as well. Additionally, there won?t be issues or complications arising from wire bus configurations.
Benefits of heavy copper PCBs
While we?ve mentioned a few of the characteristic benefits of heavy copper PCB boards over standard boards, below is a list of some of the many reasons why these copper-clad boards are in high demand.
? Copper has a high thermal and electrical conductivity level. Copper PCBs, therefore, are able to survive several thermal cycles with less thermal strain.
? They are more durable and will take the extra power and heat thrown at them when other types of boards wear out or even burn in the face of the same amount of heat.
? These boards are better at providing an uninterrupted flow of energy, thanks to copper being a natural conductor.
? Heavy copper PCBs are usually layered. This makes them exceptionally small and compact so they can fit nicely into devices that need extra power.
Do these boards have any issues?
While there are a lot of very great things about heavy copper PCBs, there are also a few not-so-good things as well. Some of these are briefly discussed here;
? It can be somehow difficult to etch the pathways onto the PCB. When the pathways in a copper PCB are not deep or long enough, it could result in the interference of the electrical signal, causing a spillover of electricity.
? There?s also a great need to properly align the inner layers to ensure the pathway and component gets to function the way they should when an electric signal is initiated.
? Improper delamination, as well, can cause problems on the board, make it fall apart or create problems that could be challenging to deal with.
Fortunately, a lot of these issues and challenges can be avoided with a proper manufacturing process and attention to detail.
Heavy Copper PCBs have a diverse range of applications
The durability, high thermal resistance, increased efficiency and performance, coupled with the energy-saving properties of heavy copper PCBs have made them a highly sought-after variety of PCBs.
The use of heavy copper PCB spans different industries and applications. Some of these uses of heavy copper PCBs include;
? HVAC Systems
? Overload Relays
? Power Line Monitors
? Protection Relays
? Rail Traction Systems
? Safety and Signal Systems
? Solar Power Converters
? Storage Pumping Plants
? Torque Controls
? UPS Systems, etc
There?s also a high demand for heavy copper PCBs in the automotive industry, computer, military, power converters, power distribution, welding equipment, industrial controls in power supplies, and other many other industries and applications where more voltage and power will be needed.
Over time, PCBs have become a fundamental concept in the world of electronics. These boards leverage the use of conductive tracks and pads to provide mechanical support and electrical connection to electrical or electronic components.
If you can afford it, the exceptional reliability and thermal management properties of heavy copper PCBs will always be more than worth it. These boards dissipate heat more efficiently to optimize performance and prevent damages to the circuit. Along with the better reliability and performance benefits, copper PCBs guarantee exceptional durability and are definitely a very cost-effective option.