Thermal substrates for high watt density SMT applications


Metal core thermal PCB (MCPCBs, MCB, IMPCB or IMS) are widely used in applications where a dense wattage calls for a good thermal heat dissipation. The thermal efficiency gained by a metal based board allows for downsizing designs and removal of hardware. To avoid short circuits, there is an electrical insulation between the copper traces/pads and the base metal using a tailored dielectric layers with high thermal conductivity.


Thanks to metal core PCB, power densities can be increased while components remain cool, increasing life and durability. It also allows modules and parts to be driven harder. In addition, the circuits can be shaped, drilled and even formed.


The most common core materials are Aluminum (Al) and Copper (Cu) alloys where Al has a good heat transfer and dissipation ability and is relatively cheap. Cu on the other side has even better performance but is also more expensive compared to Al.


In short, the typical characteristics of metal core PCB are:

  • Optimized Thermal Management by improved heat dissipation
  • Best trade off between thermal performance and cost
  • Capable of handling high-stress situations