The World of Metal Core PCB: A Comprehensive Guide

Metal Core PCB, or MCPCB, has rapidly gained popularity in recent years due to their superior heat dissipation capabilities. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of Metal Core PCB, discussing their advantages, applications, types of metal bases, and more.

What is a Metal Core PCB (MCPCB)?

A Metal Core PCB is a type of printed circuit board that uses a metal substrate as its core, instead of the traditional FR4 or other insulating materials. The most common metal core used is aluminum, but other metals like copper and steel can also be used. The primary purpose of using a metal core is to provide efficient thermal management, ensuring that electronic components remain cool and operate efficiently.

Metal Core PCB

Advantages of Metal Core PCB

  1. Improved Heat Dissipation: The most significant advantage of MCPCBs is their ability to dissipate heat more effectively than traditional FR4 PCBs. The metal core helps to spread the heat generated by electronic components, reducing hotspots and improving overall performance.
  2. Greater Thermal Expansion Compatibility: MCPCBs can better accommodate the thermal expansion and contraction of components, reducing the risk of mechanical stress and failure.
  3. Increased Durability: Metal core PCB are inherently more robust and resistant to damage, making them ideal for use in harsh environments or applications that require high mechanical strength.
  4. Reduced Size and Weight: Due to their improved thermal management capabilities, MCPCBs often require fewer cooling components, resulting in a more compact and lightweight design.

Applications of MCPCB

MCPCBs are ideal for various applications where efficient heat dissipation is crucial, such as:

  1. LED lighting systems
  2. Automotive electronics
  3. Power supplies and converters
  4. High-power amplifiers
  5. Industrial controls and automation systems

Types of Metal Bases Utilized in MCPCB

There are several types of metal bases used in MCPCBs, including:

  1. Aluminum: The most common metal base, aluminum offers excellent thermal conductivity, lightweight, and cost-effectiveness.
  2. Copper: Copper provides superior thermal conductivity but is more expensive and heavier than aluminum.
  3. Steel: Steel offers high strength and durability but has lower thermal conductivity compared to aluminum and copper.

Various Base Metals and Their Properties

  1. Aluminum: Thermal conductivity: 1.0-2.0 W/mK; Lightweight; Cost-effective
  2. Copper: Thermal conductivity: 3.8-5.0 W/mK; Higher weight; Expensive
  3. Steel: Thermal conductivity: 0.4-0.5 W/mK; High strength and durability; Lower heat dissipation

How to Make Metal Core PCB

The process of manufacturing MCPCBs is similar to that of traditional PCBs, with a few key differences:

  1. The metal core is first prepared by laminating it with a thermally conductive dielectric layer.
  2. The circuit pattern is then etched or printed onto the dielectric layer.
  3. Electronic components are mounted and soldered to the board, either through surface mount or through-hole techniques.
  4. Any necessary thermal vias or heat sinks are added to improve heat dissipation further.

Thermal Conductivity of Metal Core PCB

The thermal conductivity of a metal core PCB depends on the type of metal used as the core material. Aluminum MCPCBs typically have a thermal conductivity of 1.0-2.0 W/mK, while copper MCPCBs can have a thermal conductivity of up to 5.0 W/mK.

Metal Core PCBs Materials and Thickness

MCPCBs come in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 0.8mm to 3.2mm. The choice of thickness depends on the specific application and requirements, such as mechanical strength, thermal management, and space constraints. Thicker boards offer better heat dissipation and mechanical strength but may also increase the overall weight and size of the final product.

Metal Core PCB vs FR4 PCB

There are some significant differences between Metal Core PCB and traditional FR4 PCB:

  1. Thermal Management: MCPCBs are superior in terms of heat dissipation, making them suitable for applications with high power density and strict thermal management requirements.
  2. Cost: MCPCBs are generally more expensive than FR4 PCBs due to the cost of the metal substrate. However, their improved thermal performance may allow for a more compact design and the elimination of additional cooling components, potentially offsetting the higher cost.
  3. Durability: MCPCBs are more robust and can better withstand harsh environments, mechanical stress, and high temperatures compared to FR4 PCBs.
  4. Thermal Expansion: MCPCBs offer better compatibility with the thermal expansion and contraction of electronic components, reducing the risk of stress-related failures.
  5. Weight: MCPCBs are typically heavier than FR4 PCBs due to the metal core. However, the overall weight of the final product may be reduced if fewer cooling components are needed.


Metal Core PCBs offer numerous advantages over traditional FR4 PCBs, especially when it comes to thermal management. With improved heat dissipation, greater durability, and better compatibility with thermal expansion, MCPCBs are increasingly becoming the go-to choice for high-power applications and those that require efficient cooling. By understanding the different types of metal cores and their properties, you can make an informed decision when designing your next PCB project.

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