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Pros and Cons of Copper Core PCB - An Full Introduction in 2022

PCBONLINE Team

Thur, Jul 21, 2022

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Question
Usually, LEDs are mounted on an aluminum circuit board. But I have the option to make the PCB base out of copper. What are the reasons to make the PCB base copper? Will it make the product heavier and the fabrication price higher?

There are 3 types of metal core PCBs - aluminum PCBs, copper base PCBs, and iron base PCBs. Aluminum PCBs have already been widely used for LED lighting applications. Iron PCBs are rarely used because it is easy to corrupt and plain heat sinking. How about copper base PCBs? The copper core PCB has the best thermal conductivity among MCPCBs. If you are planning a project that requires great heat sinking, check out the pros and cons of copper core PCBs in this article.

metal core copper PCB

Part 1: What is the Thermal Conductivity of Copper Core PCBs?

Regular copper core PCBs have a thermal conductivity of 1W/mK to 9W/mK, while copper core PCBs with thermal separation have 398W/mK thermal conductivity.

Regular copper core PCB

Regular copper core PCB has the same structure and thermal sinking way as aluminum PCBs. Thermal dissipates from the components to the copper circuit layer, prepreg (PP), and the copper base.

regular copper core PCB

You will note that PP insulates the copper base and circuit layer but also hinders heat sinking. Because the copper base has better thermal conductivity than the aluminum base, regular copper PCBs have better thermal conductivity than aluminum PCBs with the same layer number and thickness.

Copper core PCBs with thermoelectric separation

Thermoelectric separation means the heat sinking network is independent of the electrical function network. Thermal dissipates directly from the electronic components to the copper base.

copper core PCB thermoelectric separation

For this reason, the copper core PCB has almost the same thermal conductivity as copper - 398W/mK.

Part 2: What are the Fabrication Specifications of Copper Core PCBs?

It's suggestive to communicate with your PCB manufacturer in the PCB design stage. You can get the fabrication capabilities of your supplier and adjust/improve your design before and during PCB prototyping.

If you have a copper PCB plan, please check out the fabrication specs of PCBONLINE, a one-stop copper core PCB manufacturer, for your reference.

  • Regular copper core PCB: 1 to 4 layer
  • Copper core PCB with thermoelectric separation: 1 to 8 layer
  • Finished copper core PCB thickness: 0.5mm to 5.0mm
  • Copper core PCB size: 5mm × 5mm to 1200mm × 480mm
  • Copper circuit thickness: 35μm, 70μm, 105μm, 140μm, 175μm, 210μm, 245μm, 280μm, 315μm, 350μm
  • PCB via wall copper thickness: 20μm to 35μm
  • Minimum trace width/space: 0.1mm/0.1mm
  • Minimum punching hole aperture: 1.0mm
  • PCB routing tolerance: CNC routing: ±0.1mm, punching: ±0.1mm
  • Minimum drill bit diameter: 0.6mm

copper-core PCB

The copper core PCB manufacturer PCBONLINE provides you with these conveniences:

  • One-on-one engineering support and design assistance throughout the project,
  • Can make copper core PCBs with a hybrid base - copper/FR4, copper/AlN, copper/alumina, and copper/PTFE,
  • Can achieve wire bonding and flip-chip for COB LED copper core PCBs,
  • One-stop copper core PCB manufacturing and assembly from prototype to bulky production,
  • Can design copper core PCBs in different structures according to the application requirements.

Copper core PCB design involves not only the electrical functions but also PCB fabrication feasibility. If you have copper core PCB or any other PCB fabrication needs, please feel free to contact PCBONLINE by email at info@pcbonline.com.

Part 3: Pros and Cons of Copper Core PCBs

Before you want to make copper core PCBs, you may need to evaluate copper core PCBs. Please check out the pros and cons of copper core PCBs.

Pros of copper core PCB

  • The best heat sinking among MCPCBs, and if thermoelectric separation, the best among all PCBs
  • Copper core PCBs can be fabricated in different structures to meet different application requirements
  • The copper base can be hybrid with other materials, such as FR4, ceramics, and PTFE

embedded hybrid lamination copper core PCB

Cons of copper core PCB

  • Usually, its price is higher than aluminum PCBs (but lower than ceramic PCBs)
  • Copper core PCB is heavier than aluminum PCBs and FR4 PCBs

Part 4: FAQs about Copper Core PCBs

FR4 copper hybrid PCB

Question 1. What are the applications of copper core PCBs?

Copper core PCBs are mainly used for high-power applications that require great heat sinking, such as high-power LED lights, car lights, stage lights, air condition central systems, etc.

Besides, copper core PCBs can be used for high-frequency circuits and in regions where the high and low temperatures change greatly.

Question 2. Is copper core PCB different from thick copper PCB?

Yes, they are different. Copper core PCBs' substrate is copper, while thick copper PCBs' substrate can be FR4, polyimide, PTFE, aluminum, and ceramics. "Thick copper" means the copper thickness is more than 2oz (70μm). The copper thickness of copper core PCBs is from 1oz to 10oz, while thick copper PCBs' copper thickness is from 3oz to 14oz.

Question 3. Will the PCB copper base oxidize and rust?

No. As we all know, copper can oxidize and rust in humid environments. But for copper core PCBs, you don't need to worry about it, as the copper laminate has been anti-oxidized before PCB fabrication.


Conclusion

Today we have given an introduction to copper core PCB and discussed its pros and cons. So if you want copper core PCBs after evaluation, you can communicate with the manufacturer PCBONLINE for design and fabrication details.


©This article is an original work of the PCBONLINE team. Please indicate the author PCBONLINE if you reprint. If the article is reproduced without permission or indicating the author's source, PCBONLINE reserves the right to investigate the infringement.

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