(Also known as Metal backed PCBs, Metal base PCBs, or Metal clad PCBs).

Aluminum and metal core PCBs

Circuit boards with high heat-generating components are susceptible to failure and malfunction if the right materials are not used in their PCB fabrication.

One of the most widely used substrate materials is the FR4 laminate, which is a weak thermal conductor. Therefore, the low thermal conductivity of the FR4 substrate constraints the amount of heat that can be dissipated.

Active components can create hot spots on an FR4 PCB, so it is necessary to use some form of a cooling technique to maintain safe operating temperatures. One method is to use thermal vias under heat-generating components (heat source) to transfer the heat away from the component (top layer) to the bottom PCB layer, where a heatsink would dissipate the heat.

Materials with high heat dissipation save components from overheating, and damage, and a metal core PCB or Aluminum core PCB could be the right choice since it essentially acts as one big heat sink.


Aluminum-metal core printed circuit board layers


The coefficient of linear thermal expansion of Aluminum (23 x 10-6 per °C) is much higher when compared with an FR4 PCB substrate (10 x 10-6 per °C). And, the high thermal conductivity of Aluminum allows it to dissipate heat away from components efficiently. Also, the metal core of a printed circuit board permits a more uniform distribution of heat throughout the PCB.

In addition to the thermal management advantages of Aluminum PCBs, there is the dimensional stability, strength, and durability that they have.
Also, metal core PCBs offer superior EMI shielding, thereby making aluminum PCB an ideal choice in a setting where there is electrical interference or noise.

One of the other benefits of metal/aluminum core PCBs is their environmental friendliness since they are recyclable.

The operation of a circuit generates heat, the amount of which depends on the power, device characteristics, and circuit design. So, to avoid failures or malfunction, the PCB should operate in and maintain a safe temperature range. While many circuit boards will work without additional cooling, there are instances where a metal or Aluminum PCB is necessary for optimal heat dissipation and proper operation of the board.