The Best Printed Circuit Board Design Software for Your Aluminum PCB
Whether for thermal performance, electrical isolation, or mechanical strength, your aluminum PCB needs the precision of Altium Designer to meet your design requirements. Altium Designer allows almost any aspect of your circuit boards to be customized, including the metal core or backing on an aluminum PCB. Designers can also specify other materials in their documentation for their fabricator, such as ceramics, aluminum flex PCBs, or other specialty materials. Take control over all aspects of your PCB with Altium Designer.
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More designs are using metal core PCBs. The metal substrate provides a mechanically robust core material with high thermal conductivity, while the dielectric layer allows components to be mounted on the board with standard manufacturing processes. MCPCBs are being used for LED boards, solid state relays, and power conversion PCBs to name a few applications. The most commonly used metal in these MCPCBs is an aluminum base, which might be mounted on the back side of the board, or as an aluminum core layer with a separator membrane.
If you work in power conversion or on systems that need rugged constructions, you may find yourself designing an aluminum PCB. There are other materials that can provide high thermal conductivity and mechanical strength, such as alumina ceramic or flexible aluminum PCBs. No matter which materials you want to use in your PCB stackup, Altium Designer is here to help you design and document all aspects of your circuit board. Take control over everything in your next printed circuit board layout with Altium Designer.
All aluminum PCBs start by determining a PCB stackup, layer count, and the materials used in each portion of the PCB. Aluminum can be placed in the core layer of the board and bonded to the surrounding dielectric layers with a separator membrane, or it can be used as a back-side mounted plate that takes up a surface layer. If placed on the back side of the board, a cutout can be placed to provide space for connectors, transformer mounting, or other components.
Ceramics are an alternative material to aluminum-core or aluminum-backed circuit boards. These materials provide extremely high thermal conductivity and can be fabricated as 2-layer PCBs. However, they are hard, brittle substrates that can be expensive to fabricate, and they cannot be constructed as multilayer PCBs. One big difference between standard FR4 laminates, metal-core boards, and ceramics is their thermal conductivity, which is summarized below:
~0.3 W/(m·K) (in-plane), ~0.9 W/(m·K) (z-axis)