Heavy Copper PCB Applications

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What are the applications of Heavy Copper PCB and how they are different from Standard PCB

There are several types of PCBs – single sided, double sided, or multi-layered. Single sided means the copper circuitry will be on one side of the board only, while double-sided means both the top (component side) and the bottom (solder side) will have circuitry.  Heavy Copper PCBs are designed with thicker copper traces and a higher copper weight than standard PCBs.  These types of PCBs find use in the applications where high thermal resistance is required.

The heavy plating of copper makes this type of circuit board more stable for high speed and high frequency applications, it can also be easily deployed for use in high temperature, reducing the risk of thermal damage to the components. Standard PCBs often have copper weights in the range of 1 oz/ft² (35 µm) or 2 oz/ft² (70 µm). In contrast, Heavy Copper PCBs can have copper weights ranging from 3 oz/ft² (105 µm) and higher.

It’s important to note that the choice to use Heavy Copper circuit boards depends on the specific requirements of the application. Designers and engineers evaluate factors such as power requirements, thermal management needs, and the overall reliability of the electronic system when deciding to implement Heavy Copper PCB technology. When designing or manufacturing Heavy Copper PCBs, it’s important to consider the specific requirements of the application and ensure that the PCB fabrication process can handle the increased copper thickness. At CCI Canadian Circuits, we use specialized techniques and equipment to achieve the desired copper weight and maintain the integrity of the  Heavy Copper PCB.

There are wide applications of Heavy Copper PCBs across a spectrum of industries where electronic devices are required have high current carrying capacity and efficient heat dissipation.

Here are some key characteristics and applications of Heavy Copper PCBs:

1. Increased Current Carrying Capacity: The primary advantage of heavy copper is its ability to carry higher currents. Thicker copper traces reduce the resistance and, consequently, the heat generated during the flow of electrical current.

2. Thermal Management: Heavy Copper PCBs are often used in applications where efficient heat dissipation is crucial. The additional copper mass helps in spreading and dissipating heat, making them suitable for high-power applications.

3. High Power Electronics: Heavy Copper PCBs find applications in high-power electronic devices such as power supplies, inverters, motor controllers, and other industrial equipment where substantial current loads are common.

4. Durability and Reliability: The increased copper thickness also contributes to the mechanical strength and durability of the PCB, making it more resistant to mechanical stress and environmental factors.

5. Complex Designs: Heavy Copper PCBs are beneficial in designs with high current density, complex power distribution networks, and applications that demand a high level of reliability.

6. Military and Aerospace Applications: Due to their reliability and robustness, Heavy Copper PCBs are used in military and aerospace applications where reliability is critical.

Here are some common industries where Heavy Copper printed circuit boards are used:

  • Power Supplies
  • Inverters and Converters
  • Automotive Electronics
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Renewable Energy Systems
  • Medical Electronics
  • Telecommunications Infrastructure
  • Consumer Electronics
  • LED Lighting Systems

The manufacturing process of Heavy Copper PCBs is somewhat similar to that of standard PCBs, but there are additional considerations due to the increased copper thickness. Here is a general overview of the manufacturing process for Heavy Copper PCBs:

1. Design and Layout: The design phase involves creating the PCB layout using computer-aided design (CAD) software. Designers must consider the increased copper thickness and the specific requirements of the application.

2. Substrate Material Selection: The choice of substrate material is critical. Heavy Copper PCBs often use materials with high thermal conductivity to facilitate efficient heat dissipation. Common substrate materials include FR-4, high-temperature FR-4, and metal-core substrates.

3. Copper Cladding: The base substrate is clad with copper on one or both sides. The thickness of the copper layer is significantly higher than that of standard PCBs. The copper weight is specified in ounces per square foot (oz/ft²) or grams per square meter (g/m²).

4. Lamination: The copper-clad substrate is then subjected to a lamination process. This involves stacking the substrate with its copper layers and pressing them together under heat and pressure to bond the layers.

5. Drilling: Precision drilling is performed to create holes for through-hole components and vias. The drilling process must account for the increased copper thickness to ensure clean and accurate holes.

6. Electroless Copper Deposition: A thin layer of electroless copper is deposited onto the substrate’s surface and hole walls. This step helps create conductive paths within the holes.

7. Image Transfer and Etching: The PCB layout is transferred onto the copper surface through a photoresist or other imaging process. The unwanted copper is then removed through etching, leaving behind the desired copper traces.

8. Plating: Copper plating is performed to increase the thickness of the copper traces. This step is crucial for achieving the desired heavy copper weight. Multiple plating steps may be required.

9. Final Etching: Additional etching may be performed to refine the copper traces and remove excess copper.

10. Surface Finish: The PCB’s surface is finished with a suitable surface treatment, such as HASL (Hot Air Solder Leveling), ENIG (Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold), or OSP (Organic Solderability Preservatives).

11. Solder Mask and Silkscreen: The solder mask is applied to protect the copper traces and define areas for soldering. Silkscreen printing is done to add labels and component indicators.

12. Quality check and Final Inspection: The finished Heavy Copper PCB undergoes a thorough inspection to ensure that it meets the design specifications and quality standards.

The manufacturing process for Heavy Copper PCBs requires specialized equipment and expertise to handle the challenges associated with thicker copper layers. We are an experienced PCB manufacturer who have proven track record in manufacturing highly reliable and high-quality Heavy Copper to the desired specifications of our clients.

To find out more about our Heavy Copper manufacturing PCB capabilities, contact us.

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