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Chapter 2: IMPCBs or MCPCBs
Insulated metal PCBs (IMPCB) or metal-clad PCBs (MCPCB) are a thermal management design that utilizes a layer of solid metal to dissipate the heat generated by the various components on the PCBs. When metal is attached to a PCB, the bonding material can either be thermally conductive but electrically isolative (IMPCBs or MCPCBs), or in the case of RF/microwave circuits, the bonding material may be both electrically and thermally conductive. The reason that RF designers usually have the bonding material thermally and electrically conductive is that they are using this not only as a heat sink but also as part of the ground layer. The design considerations are quite different for these different applications.
This chapter will focus on the IMPCB design considerations, and Chapter 4 will focus on RF thermal management. We will focus on things designers should be discussing with their PCB supplier to ensure manufacturability and a successful product launch. Since the choices, options, and decisions can be extremely complicated, it is critical to engage early and collaborate with the PCB fabricator about the specific design to ensure the most cost-effective solution.
Some of the more common applications of IMPCBs include:
- Power Conversion: Thermal-clad offers a variety of thermal performances, is compatible with mechanical fasteners, and is highly reliable
- LEDs: Using thermal-clad PCBs ensures the lowest possible operating temperatures and maximum brightness, color, and life
- Photovoltaic Energy: Renewable energy to power telecommunications, military camps, residential and commercial structures, and battery charging stations
- Motor Drives: Thermal-clad dielectric choices provide the electrical isolation needed to meet operating parameters and safety agency test requirements
- Solid-State Relays: Thermal-clad offers a very thermally efficient and mechanically robust substrate
- Automotive: The automotive industry uses thermal-clad boards, as they need long term reliability under high operating temperatures coupled with their requirement of effective space utilization
To download The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Thermal Management: A Fabricator’s Perspective, click here. You can also view other titles in our full library. Check out other books from American Standard Circuits, including The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs and Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals.