Regularly printed circuit boards are used in a number of low-voltage and low-power appliances and devices to help them function properly. However, what kind of printed circuit board is used for appliances and devices that need more voltage and power? Heavy copper PCB.
In this post, you are going to learn everything you need to know about heavy copper PCBs. This will include a more in-depth description of heavy copper PCBs, a few examples of where they can be found, and characteristics that make heavy copper PCBs different from the traditional ones.
HEAVY COPPER PCBs
Heavy copper PCBs have specifically printed circuit boards that are thicker and heavier for the sake of handling higher voltage and power. To help you understand, a traditional printed coper board will have a weight ranging between ½ oz/ft2 to 3 oz/ft2. But, heavy copper PCBs usually weigh between 4 oz/ft2 to 20 oz/ft2.
As you can see, this weight is a significant gain from the traditional printed circuit board. Because this weighs more, it also is thicker. This means that it can stand up to the high power it was created for.
WHAT DEVICES CONTAIN HEAVY COPPER PCBs?
You will mainly find heavy copper PCBs in larger pieces of electronics. These will include things like transformers and power converters. These are mainly used to divert or direct power to certain sources. As previously mentioned, they are built to handle high volumes of electricity.
Hybrid and electric cars have become an ideal mode of transportation for many. With the emphasis many are putting on protecting the environment through reduced use of fuel, electric cards have become a popular choice. Did you know that electric cars are usually homes to heavy copper PCBs? It takes a lot of power to charge and run a full car off of a battery!
Solar batteries and solar panels are also frequent users of heavy copper printed circuit boards. They allow for the mass movement of energy collected from the sun.
BENEFITS OF USING A HEAVY COPPER PCB
A lot of the benefits of heavy copper PCB deal with thermal rates.
Firstly, there is the less thermal strain when using a heavy copper PCB. This is because copper itself has a high thermal and electrical conductivity level, so it can take the heat and the extra electrical power that is thrown it's way.
Because these PCBs are made with extra copper, they can also survive through several thermal cycles. Some other PCBs will wear down more quickly or even burn if put through the amount of heat heavy copper PCBs go through.
Not only do heavy copper PCBs do a great job of keeping the temperature in check, but they also do a great job of providing an uninterrupted flow of energy. This is because copper itself is a natural conductor. Heavy copper PCBs also tend to be smaller in size because they are usually layered. This means that they are made to be compact and to fit into devices that will require extra power.
Lastly, copper is a very affordable resource, so these types of PCBs are not too costly to create. This is a benefit because more expensive materials can start to get too costly for some companies.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING A HEAVY COPPER PCB
When it is good, there is also bad. Unfortunately, the manufacturing of heavy copper printed circuit boards can result in a few issues.
To begin, there can be an issue in the etching process. Because the heavy copper PCB weighs more and is thicker, it might be difficult to accurately etch the pathways into the PCB. This can cause a ton of issues. One major issue it can cause is noise, which is the disruption or interference of an electrical signal. This happens when pathways are not deep or long enough, resulting in a spilling over of electricity.
Another issue with the creation of a heavy copper PCB is inner layer alignment. Heavy copper PCBs are layered, but there can be some issues in aligning these layers so that each pathway and component can perform the proper function when an electrical signal is created. This can cause issues with the product the heavy copper PCB is in and can keep it from performing correctly.
Next is the issue of delamination. When putting a number of layers together, a technician creating a heavy copper PCB must use a lamination process. The laminate is used to also fill voids. But, improper application of the laminate can cause issues on the board and can cause the board to fall apart. This will obviously lead to issues that are hard to fix.
HOW THE CREATION PROCESS IS DIFFERENT
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of creating a heavy copper PCB, it is time to learn more about how the creative process for a heavy copper printed circuit board is different from the creation process of a traditional printed circuit board.
Obviously, the amount of copper used is greatly increased. This is a given! But the increased amount of copper also means an increased amount of time in production. Because these PCBs will come out thicker and heavier, it will take more time to accurately cut into the pieces of copper. If a company were to do this too quickly, it could result in a number of issues that could render the product the heavy copper PCB will go into utterly useless.
The layering is also a bit different. Because differential etching is used, it can sometimes be difficult to align the layers of copper for the best fit. The layering, however, makes for the creation of a more compact and powerful printed circuit board that is ready to take on a high voltage and power needs.
As you can see, there is a lot to know about heavy copper printed circuit boards. These boards are designed with power in mind. Now you know the important aspects of the design and manufacturing of these PCBs.