MCPCB - Do You Need Metal Core PCBs for Thermal Management?

What is MCPCB

MCPCB is a metal core PCB, a printed circuit board that uses copper or aluminum as its substrate material. The metal substrate was designed to replace the FR4 material because metal conducts heat a lot faster than FR4. An MCPCB is composed of a metal core, thermal isolation/prepreg layers, and copper circuit layers.

The metal core of MCPCB is usually aluminum or copper. Iron rarely is used for MCPCBs. From PCBHERO, you can also have PCBs that use phase-change materials in the PCB substrate manufactured, such as copper/FR4, copper/ceramic, aluminum/FR4, etc.

Thermal dissipation is the core advantage of MCPCBs. For normal MCPCBs, thermal conducts from electronic components to the copper layer, prepreg layer, and the metal substrate. We all know that copper and aluminum conduct heat quickly, but the prepreg material conducts thermal much slower. So the prepreg material determines the thermal conductivity of MCPCBs.

At PCBHERO, we use the same prepreg material for aluminum and copper MCPCBs. It is a special polymer filled with epoxy resin composed of aluminum oxide and silicon powder. The thermal resistance of the prepreg material is small than normal FR4 material.

The thermal conductivity of regular MCPCBs is 1W/mK to 9W/mK. If a regular MCPCB has multiple PCB layers, the heat conductivity effect will be not very good. So regular MCPCBs usually are designed to have only 1 or 2 PCB layers.

But for copper MCPCBs, the thermoelectric separation technology provides more possibilities. The thermal conductivity of copper MCPCBs from PCBHERO can reach 400W/mK.

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