Aluminum Flex LED PCB: All You Need To Know

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Oakley Mae

Do you know what an aluminum flex LED PCB is, and if yes, what are its applications?

One sure thing is that the electronic industry is expanding fast and has welcomed a new era of flexible circuit board development.

It’s from such circuit boards that the development of compact electronics has become possible.

However, flexible circuit boards still present challenges forcing engineers to focus on developing more efficient alternatives. 

And this is where aluminum flex LED PCBs come into the equation.

These boards focus on eliminating such challenges and increasing performance in high-power applications.

Interestingly, one major application of aluminum flex PCB is designing light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Engineers use a thermal heat sink and a ceramic base to bond the LED chips on the circuit board. 

Let’s explore aluminum flex LED PCB, focusing on applications, stack-up details, and features.

Table of Contents

What’s Aluminum Flex PCB?

This aluminum-based circuit board has undergone special treatment to curl, bend, and acquire a 3D shape.

And like all other aluminum circuit boards, a flexible option also has solder masks, copper circuit layers, aluminum substrate, and dielectric layers. 

The difference between a rigid and flexible aluminum PCB is that the latter has an aluminum substrate that is countersunk and physically grooved to bend to a certain degree.

Generally, aluminum flex circuit boards have a thickness between 0.8 mm to 1.2 mm.

And to bend with ease, they come with a single component-mounted side. 

Furthermore, flexible aluminum circuit boards use softer aluminum substrates.

And for the best performance, we recommend a copper thickness of about 25μm. 

Applications of Aluminum Flex PCB for LED

(A white circuit board LED lights)

The aluminum flex PCB for LEDs generate much heat, and cooling them using traditional methods is nearly impossible.

Therefore, manufacturers employ design strategies like thin dielectric conductive materials to make the circuit boards more efficient in heat transfer. 

And once this is achieved, it becomes possible to use the circuit boards in lighting projects.

Aluminum flex LED PCB applications include airport runway landing lights, military lighting applications, automotive headlights, highway tunnel lighting, photovoltaic lighting, and street lighting.

Additionally, you can use them for high-growth plant lighting, hospital operation room lighting, traffic lighting, and flashlights.

In all these applications, aluminum flex LED  PCBs perform better than rigid boards.  

Aluminum Flex LED PCB Features

SMD LEDs on the aluminum printed circuit

(SMD LEDs on the aluminum printed circuit)

Aluminum flex LED PCBs have certain features that make them perfect for lighting projects, and they include the following:

Lightweight: Aluminum is very light, with about one-third of the steel weight, thus contributing to less PCB noise.

However, the low weight won’t affect the material quality, and to get a high-quality material, you must modify its alloy composition.

The lightweight feature also contributes to developing compact and light electronics like wearables. 

Excellent Thermal Conductivity: Generally, aluminum has a high thermal conductivity of about three times steel.

Therefore, aluminum makes the best material for heating and cooling applications.

Manufacturers use aluminum flex LED PCBs and light LED heat sinks in computer motherboards.

Surprisingly, the more an electronic dissipates heat, the more efficient it becomes. 

High Electrical Conductivity: Aluminum is among the best conductors of electricity.

As a result, they’re the most common material in electrical transmission lines. 

Recyclability: Manufacturers love aluminum because it’s 100% recyclable. And after recycling, it still retains the original product identity.

Therefore, it’s among the most cost-effective production materials. 

Non-corrosive: Naturally, aluminum has a thin oxide layer that protects it from environmental exposure.

Therefore, cases of exposure are rare in aluminum flex LED PCB. 

Benefits of Aluminum Flex LED PCB

The use of light-emitting diodes is increasing by the day.

Generally, manufacturers and users prefer them for their environment-friendliness and improved longevity.

But you might be wondering why you should use aluminum flex LED PCB. Below are some aluminum PCB for LED benefits:

Consumes Lower Power

Manufacturers are now designing low-power consuming but high-functionality products.

Aluminum flex LED PCB fall under this category and are known for producing high-quality lights.

For example, LEDs are at least six or seven times more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

Some users who switch from traditional to LED lighting report reducing their energy consumption by over 80%. 

Longer Lifespan

Aluminum flex LEDs can last for at least three years of constant use.

This translates into a lifespan of about 25000 hours.

Therefore, expect them to last more than 25 times the lifespan of traditional lighting bulbs.

Consequently, buying and installing new bulbs will save money, time, and effort. 

Higher efficiency

If you have ever used traditional bulbs, then you know that they emit a lot of heat.

According to experts, these bulbs convert almost 90% of their energy into heat.

On their part, LED cuts this by almost 20%.

As a result, a higher energy percentage goes into lighting your home. 

Aluminum Flex PCB for LED Stack-Up Details

A light-emitting diode flexible printed circuit board

(A light-emitting diode flexible printed circuit board)

Aluminum Circuit Board for LED Copper Traces Layer

The copper circuit or trace goes through etching to create a circuit board.

Generally, aluminum flex PCB for LED with the same trace width and layer thickness as an FR-4 material will carry more electric current. 

Dielectric Layer

The dielectric layer is responsible for the main technology behind the aluminum circuit board for LED.

In most cases, the layer provides the surface for adhesion, insulation, and heat conduction. 

Any components with excellent thermal conductivity will spread heat quickly during operation.

As a result, you’ll realize some purposes like the loading power improving.

Also, it enhances durability and improves output power. 

Substrate Layer

Aluminum offers the best option as far as the cost and technical characteristics are concerned.

And as long as the heat transfer is higher, employing mechanical properties, electrical properties, and other requirements becomes easy. 

FAQs

What are the different types of aluminum PCBs?

We have three types of aluminum circuit boards depending on the application.

First, we have the aluminum through-hole, which involves pre-drilling the aluminum and back-filling the hole with a dielectric. 

Secondly, we have flexible aluminum circuit boards that offer high insulation, thermal conductivity, and excellent flexibility.

Therefore, you can change the circuit board into different shapes, thus fitting it into tighter spaces. 

Finally, we have hybrid aluminum circuit boards common in RF frequency applications.

Also, they offer excellent thermal performance when you employ them in standard FR-4 products. 

Are aluminum flex PCBs better than copper flex PCBs?

The simple answer here is that it depends on your intended application case and what you consider a top priority when looking for a PCB.

For example, aluminum circuit boards are cheaper than copper-based boards.

And you can use both circuit boards in applications like LED lighting and electronic communication equipment. 

However, copper offers a higher conductivity rating than aluminum.

Therefore, copper is better when you prioritize conductivity, while aluminum is better when you prioritize cost. 

Final Remarks

Whether you’re a circuit board manufacturer, engineer, or end-user, understanding aluminum flex LED PCBs can help handle your electronics.

And this guide has provided all the relevant information relating to these boards. 

The aluminum option is more cost-effective when we compare aluminum boards with copper boards.

However, you’d want to consider copper boards if you care more about high conductivity.

All in all, aluminum flex LED PCBs are excellent options with higher efficiency and longer lifespan.