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Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are found in a wide variety of electronics, from LED lights to high-tech scanners. Due to varying requirements based on conductivity, insulation, and longevity, PCBs are manufactured using a wide array of materials. Unlike standard PCBs, which typically use a FR-4 fiberglass substrate, aluminum PCBs are made using a metal substrate primarily comprised of aluminum alloy.

So what are the advantages of using an aluminum printed circuit board? Here’s what you need to know about aluminum PCBs and why you should use one in your next project.

How Are Aluminum PCBs Made?

Like many PCBs, aluminum boards are comprised of three layers: a circuit layer, thermal insulation layer, and base layer.

Circuit Layer – The circuit layer in an aluminum PCB is made using copper foil. Typically, this layer is slightly thicker than a standard circuit board, allowing the board to carry a larger current.

Dielectric Layer – A layer of thermally conductive material insulates the board from stress caused by heat. This layer is often made of ceramic polymer and is sandwiched between the circuit and base layers.

Base Layer – An aluminum PCB has a base layer made from an aluminum alloy substrate, which has high thermal conductivity and is ideal for electronics that create high levels of heat.

What are the Types of Aluminum PCBs?

 Generally, aluminum PCBs can be divided into three categories.

  • Universal Aluminum PCB: Uses an epoxy glass fiber for the dielectric layer.
  • High Thermal-Conductive PCB: The dielectric layer is made of epoxy resin that is highly conductive.
  • High-Frequency PCB: The dielectric layer is made from polyolefin or polyimide resin glass fiber.

What are Aluminum PCBs Used For?

Due to their longevity, light weight build, and cost-effective prices, aluminum PCBs are used in an assortment of products that require long-term efficacy. Typically, these products include lighting elements that require high levels of heat to be conducted away from the component.

Aluminum PCBs are often found in:

  • Lighting Components: LED lights frequently use aluminum PCBs due to their high level of thermal conductivity.
  • Audio Equipment: Aluminum PCBs are used in a variety of amplifiers.
  • Computer Components: Computer elements like floppy discs and power supply elements frequently use aluminum PCBs.
  • Power Supply and Switches: Elements like AC-DC adapters, radiators, and insulators incorporate aluminum PCBs to minimize generated heat.

What are the Benefits of Aluminum PCBs?

There are multiple reasons why manufacturers choose aluminum PCBs over standard PCBs. Aside from their high-level of insulation and heat conductivity, aluminum PCBs tend to be lightweight and relatively environmentally friendly.

Heat Dissipation – Circuit boards are often exposed to high levels of heat, which may damage or destroy vital components. Since aluminum is highly conductive, the heat is redirected away from essential components maintaining their integrity and longevity.

Light-Weight – Since aluminum is a light-weight material, it’s ideal for circuitry that is intricate but still needs to be durable

Budget-Friendly – Compared to other metals, aluminum is relatively inexpensive, making aluminum PCBs an affordable option.

Long-Lasting – Unlike standard PCBs, aluminum PCBs are made using more durable materials. These boards aren’t as fragile or susceptible to wear and tear as PCBs comprised of primarily synthetic materials.

Environmentally Friendly – Since they are made using a larger percentage of recyclable materials, aluminum PCBs are better for the environment. In addition, LED lights powered by aluminum PCBs are longer-lasting and more energy efficient than standard incandescent options.

Finding the Right PCBs with Help from Imagineering

At Imagineering, we are industry leaders in manufacturing high-quality circuit boards that align with your needs. Our process combines years of experience with innovative technology to create state-of-the art components.

  • You shouldn’t have to compromise quality to fit your budget. We offer aerospace quality circuit boards at standard prices, enabling companies nationwide to incorporate high-end technology into their products.
  • In a rush? Imagineering is committed to providing same-day turnaround for prototyping and production in as few as seven days all while maintaining our same high-quality standards.

  • Working on a unique project? Imagineering offers a wide range of materials suited to fit all your circuit board needs. Use our tolerance guidelines to ensure that you get the best results from your PCB.

From the simplest requests to more complex orders, Imagineering is ready to provide guidance and support every step of the way. Contact us today to get your initial quote!