Aluminum vs Standard PCBs: How to Choose the Right One?

Printed circuit boards (PCBs), as we all know, are an integral part of almost all electronic and electromechanical devices. There are several types of PCBs made in various configurations and number of layers, depending upon the application requirements. PCBs may come with or without a metallic core. Metal core PCBs are mostly made of aluminum, while standard PCBs are made of non-metal substrates such as ceramic, plastic, or fiberglass. Owing to their method of construction, there are certain differences between aluminum and standard PCBs, and which one is better? Which type of the two PCBs would suit your application requirements? Let’s find out the same here.

Comparison and Information: Aluminum vs Standard PCBs

In a bid to compare aluminum vs standard PCBs, it is crucial to consider your application requirements first. Along with that considering the design and flexibility, budget, and other factors is just as important. So, here is some more information about standard as well as aluminum PCBs which may help you decide the one you require.

More About Standard PCBs

Standard PCBs, as the term implies, are made in the most standard and widely used configurations. Generally made of FR4 substrate, these PCBs are of standard thicknesses around 1.5mm. They are quite cost effective and are moderately durable. Since the substrate materials for standard PCBs are all bad conductors, they have copper layer lamination, solder mask, and silkscreen which make them conductive. These can be single-sided, double-sided or multilayered boards. The single sided ones are used in basic devices such as calculators. The layered ones are used in slightly complex devices such as computers. As such, they find application in a large number of simple and complex devices, depending upon the materials used and the number of layers. Most FR4 boards do not have very high heat and temperature resistance, and hence need to be shielded from direct exposure to very high temperatures. So, they have heat sinks or copper-filled vias, which prevent the heat from entering the circuit. You may want to avoid the use of standard PCBs and instead opt for aluminum PCBs in case of applications operating in extreme hot environments, as long as multiple layers are not required. However, if your application requirements are relatively stable, you can very well opt for fiberglass standard PCBs, which are efficient as well as cost effective.

More About Aluminum PCBs

Aluminum PCBs are just like any other PCB, wherein aluminum is used as a substrate. These are widely used in many applications, which operate in harsh environments and extreme temperatures. But they are not used in complex designs wherein too many components need to be mounted. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat; however, these PCBs still have layers of silkscreen, copper, and solder mask. At times, aluminum as a substrate may be used along some other non-conductor substrate such as fiberglass. Aluminum PCBs are mostly either single sided or double sided. Rarely they are multilayered. So, while, they are thermal conductors, layering of aluminum PCBs has its own challenges. They are widely used in indoor and outdoor LED lighting systems. They are durable and help reduce the environmental impact. So, in general, if your application is to be operated in extreme hot temperatures or demand higher heat dissipation, you can opt for aluminum PCBs as long as only one or two layers suffice your requirement.

Are you looking for PCBs for your electromechanical products? If yes, source them from a reliable manufacturer who also offers end-to-end assembling services. Rigiflex is a known manufacturer of custom flex and rigid-flex PCBs, and has a market presence of over 20 years. The company manufactures and assembles standard as well as aluminum PCBs, and caters to diverse clients across industries.