High-Quality Metal Core PCBs with Competitive Pricing

  • Aluminum Substrate, Copper Substrate & Iron Substrate
  • Single-layer, Double-layer & Multilayer
  • High Thermal Conductivity Material
  • Normal stack-up & Thermoelectric Separation
  • ISO9001:2015 Certified & UL Listed
  • 100% E-testing, AOI Inspection & Visual Inspection

What is a Metal Core PCB?

A metal core PCB is a printed circuit board with a metal substrate to be a substitute of FR4 which is the most commonly used PCB laminate. MCPCB always contains three layers: base metal substrate such as aluminum, copper etc., then a dielectric and a copper layer to etch traces. These metal substrate are always used to dissipate heat from electronic components. The most commonly used substrate is Aluminum, but there are also Copper, Iron and other alloys. 

Metal Core PCB Materials and Thickness

The base laminate used in MCPCB are mostly aluminum which is widely used in LED and lighting industry. But there are also other materials such as copper, iron normally.

The standard thickness of metal core PCBs is 1.0 to 1.6mm, but can be thicker and thinner as well according to the function and usage.

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    Advantages of MCPCB

    Metal core PCBs are made of special substrate materials that are specially formulated to improve the heat dissipation mainly. MCPCBs also have other advantages that other type of materials do not have.

    Excellent in Heat dissipation

    Electronic products will generate a lot of heat during use, especially high-power products, such as LEDs, power supplies, etc. If the heat cannot be dissipated in time, it will affect the life cycle of electronic products. The metal core substrate has very good thermal conductivity, which is much better than the FR4 laminate which we used normally.

    High Temperature Resistant
    The metal substrate is made of metal, so it can withstand very high temperatures, usually much higher than the withstand temperature of electronic components :120°C.
    Good Dimensional Stability
    The dimensional stability of metal core printed circuit boards is better than other PCBs such as FR4 material. When the aluminum MCPCB is heated from 25°C to 120°C(the max. Temperature of electronics component can withstand), the observed dimensional change less than 2%.
    Cost Effective
    Since the base metal substrate are made of aluminum, copper, iron etc, which are very common metal material. So it is cost effective every for consumer electronics such as LED, lighting, power etc.

    Applications of Metal Core Printed Circuits

    MCPCB boards are ideal for various applications such as indoor and outdoor lighting, power supply, automotive lighting etc, such as:

    • LED applications of the automotive system
    • Photovoltaic power generation
    • Street safety applications, such as lighting, street lighting, etc.
    • Road light, traffic light,street light, road signs etc.
    • Audio and video equipment
    • Backlight unit applications
    • Hybrid/motor control applications
    • Power converters: power supply, high voltage regulator
    • Lighting in homes, workplaces
    • Power converters, power supply

    Metal core PCB manufacturer Attentions

    Thermal conductivity is the key for metal substrates. Different materials have different thermal conductivity. Therefore, before making metal circuit boards, it is necessary to confirm that the thermal conductivity of the metal substrate is consistent with the requirements of the customer’s product.

    Metal core PCBs are normally designed as single copper layer, so generally we can refer to single-sided PCBs. But multilayer metal substrates are also becoming more common. The production process of the multi-layer board metal base is different and more complex. Alos, thermoelectric separation structure can realize the combination of multi-function and heat conduction.
    Because the hardness of the metal material is much greater than that of FR4 and other materials, it is different from ordinary FR4 in terms of drilling and forming. And punching is also common in the production of metal substrates.

    Thermoelectric Separation Metal Substrate PCB

    For some ultra-high-power products and equipment, ordinary metal substrates still cannot meet the heat dissipation requirements of products. In this way, a thermoelectric separation metal substrate with better performance emerges as the times require. In this way, the heat does not pass through the circuit part, but is directly conducted to the metal substrate. The thermal conductivity of this thermoelectric separation metal substrate can reach more than 300W/(m·K).


    Layer counts of MCPCB

    Most metal substrates have only one layer of wiring, that is to say, they are all single-sided PCBs. A layer of metal substrate, plus dielectric layer and copper plane to etch trace. However, with the development of electronic products, there are more and more double layer or multi-layer metal PCBs.
    The single-sided metal PCB consists of three parts: the bottom layer is a metal substrate, such as aluminum, copper, iron, etc., followed by an insulating substrate layer, and then the top layer is a copper plane, which is used to etch the circuit.
    The double-sided or multi-layer board is to make an ordinary double layer PCB or multi-layer PCB first, and then heat press the ordinary double layer or multi-layer board to the metal substrate. But there are also production methods that the metal substrate in the middle, so it is necessary to drill a hole larger than the actual hole first, then plug the holes by epoxy, and then do drilling again and electroplating. This process is relatively complicated.

    Viasion is a Leading Metal Core PCB Supplier

    Things You Should Know About Metal Core PCB

    Metal Core PCBs, also short for MC PCBs are one of the most widely used PCBs today in consumer electronics, industrial, automotive etc.   


    Basic introduction of MCPCBs

    The basic layers of MCPCB includes:

    In all these layers, the most important factor is the metal core layer, it will affect the parameters of the PCBs greatly. So we need to make sure the proper material are used.

    Classification of MC PCBs

    • Single-sided metal core printed circuit board
    • Double-sided MCPCB
    • Multi-layer MCPCB
    • Thermoelectric separation substrate

    Technical Specifications of Metal Core PCB

    Technical specifications of MCPCBs consist of types, processes, substrates, the thickness of the board, dimensions of the shape, the via diameter standard of the final product, the minimum circuit width, the minimum spacing, the degree of warping, solder mask, storage conditions and shelf life of products, the packaging method of products, etc.


    Design for the Metal Core PCBs


    A metal backing on a PCB can work like a large grounding layer or a large heat sink. If the board requires the use of high-speed/high-frequency circuit blocks, using the back metal plate as a larger grounding layer can provide some shielding. It can also provide some planar capacitance if a power plane is used on the MCPCBs.
    In addition, the metal core can be used as a large heat sink, especially if the MCPCB is exposed to the outside. In this case, it is best not to ground the back side when connecting the top side to a standard power supply. This will prevent ground loops. This will also dissipate heat directly into the very large heat sink, which helps to reduce surface temperatures.

    Other aspects of DFM in MCPCB design differ little from standard PCBs, although CAD tools are not used to design these boards. Power electronics front ends need to follow some minor rules, notably IPC-2221 (creepage and release rules), as well as other standards for defense and aerospace. We should follow these metal core PCB design guidelines to get perfect MCPCBs.

    Process of Metal Core PCB Manufacturing

    Metal core PCBs of different types and different requirements should be manufactured according to different processes. Yet the basic process is the same. Generally, the steps of film plate making, graphic pattern, chemical etching, through-hole, and copper foil processing should be carried out by MCPCB manufacturer. The following manufacturing process of the single-sided MCPCB is taken as an example.

    The manufacturing process of the single-sided metal core PCB

    cutting → drilling → pattern→ etching → inspection → solder mask → (hot air leveling) → silkscreen → pounching → testing → inspection.

    Double layer or muti-layer metal core PCB manufacturing process is more complex, normally a 2 layer or mutilayer circuit boards should be produced first.

    Metal Core PCB Prototyping Steps

    Checking the information

    Before production, the PCB manufacturer will check the information provided by the customer to make the board, including the size of the board, process requirements, the number of products, and other related data. The next production step will be carried out only after the manufacturer reaches an agreement with the customer.

    According to the information provided by the customer, we cut down small pieces on the substrates that meet the requirements.
    Drill the required holes at the corresponding position on the MC PCB.
    PTH holes plating
    A thin layer of copper is chemically plated through holes. No need this step for single layer metal core PCB.
    Patterning the graphic
    Pattern the graphic on the production film to the board.
    Pattern plating

    More copper is plated on the bare copper skin or hole wall of the circuit graphics to reach the required thickness of the copper layer.

    Removing the film

    The anti-plating covering film layer is removed with NaOH solution so that the non-circuit copper layer is exposed.


    Remove the non-circuit copper with a chemical reagent.

    Solder mask
    Transfer the graphics of the solder mask film to the board, mainly to protect the circuit and to stop the circuit from being covered with solder paste when components are soldered.

    Recognizable characters are silkscreen printed on the board.

    Surfact Finish

    The pads uncovered by solder mask should be protected by a thin layer of metal, such as tin and gold. The most commonly used in MCPCB is HAL.

    Stamp the shape required by the customer with a mold or gong out the shape with a CNC gong machine.
    E-testing is performed to detect the functional defects caused by open circuits, short circuits, etc.

    Metal Core PCB Components Mounting Guidelines

    1. The requirements of cleaning boards during assembling MC PCB: the surface of the board should be clean without tin beads, component pins, and stains. There should be no dirt left by the soldering, especially at the solder joints on the plug-in side. The following components should be protected: wire, connection terminals, relays, switches, mylar capacitors, and other devices easy to corrode when the board is cleaned. And it is strictly prohibited to use ultrasonic to clean relays.

    2. All components are not allowed to exceed the edge of the MCPCBs after being assembled.

    3. As the pins of the plug-in components are scoured by the tin flow, some of the plug-in components will have a tilt after the soldering, so the technicians are required to make appropriate corrections for the components whose location is beyond the silkscreen frame.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    The answer is No. Although most of MCPCBs are single layer, but there are also double sided metal core PCB, multilayer metal core PCB. We can also produce thermoelectric separation MCPCBs.

    A typical metal-clad PCB contains the following three parts:
    1. metal base, which can be aluminium, copper, iron etc.;
    2. dielectric for electricity isolation;
    3. copper trace for electronic functions.

    Although both metal clad PCB and FR4 boards are all rigid PCBs, and both of them are widely used. But they are different. Their main differences are:

    1, Materials used are different: metal based PCB uses metal core, such as aluminium, copper and other alloy, while FR4 PCB used only glass fiber;

    2, Different usage: metal clad PCBs are always used in heat dissipation applications, such as high power PCB, LED PCB etc. But FR4 printed circuit boards are widely used in most of electronic devices.

    The thermal conductivity of MCPCB board range from 1W/m·K to 400W/m·K, depends on the material parameters.