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How Do You Manage Thermal Dissipation in High-Power PCB Assys?

Dissipation in High-Power PCB Assys

Heat management is an important consideration when designing high-power pcb assy. The goal is to transport and dissipate heat from active components as quickly as possible to ensure that their operating temperature remains within an acceptable range. There are several thermal cooling methods available for PCBs, ranging from exotic substrate materials to cooling fans and more. However, one of the most effective and cost-efficient is to use thermal design techniques. This includes everything from selecting the right copper thickness and width to using thermal vias.

In addition, the layer stackup can play an important role in heat control. This is because different resins and materials offer varying thermal conductivity. Some, such as polyimides, have very low thermal resistance and can help dissipate heat more efficiently. However, they must be carefully considered with the specific performance requirements and constraints of each PCB application.

Another effective cooling method is to use heat sinks. These devices remove heat from a PCB component and transfer it into a cool medium, such as air or water. They work on the principle that heat flows from hotter areas to cooler ones, and that the amount of energy transferred is proportional to the temperature difference.

PCBs should be designed to minimize the number of power-producing components and traces on the board, as well as to ensure that they are spaced far apart. This helps to prevent thermal hot spots and distributes heat evenly across the entire surface of the circuit board. It is also recommended to use a thermal pad to ensure that the thermal interface material is properly attached to the components and to the copper trace.

How Do You Manage Thermal Dissipation in High-Power PCB Assys?

The metallization and copper thickness used on a PCB also have significant impacts on its thermal properties. Thick copper traces have lower thermal resistance and can dissipate more heat. They can also reduce the voltage drop and speed up signal propagation. However, thick copper traces are more expensive and difficult to route.

In addition, using a heat sink is another effective way to manage thermal dissipation in high-power PCBs. They are able to absorb and dissipate more heat than smaller parts, and can even cool down components in the case of a failure. In addition, they can improve the reliability of a power supply by allowing it to run for longer periods.

Other thermal management methods include using copper coins, which are small pieces of copper embedded in a component. They take advantage of copper’s superior thermal conductivity to pull heat from the area directly under the generating component and transfer it to a cooling medium. They are often used in conjunction with other thermal dissipation methods, such as a thermal pad or paste and thermal vias.

In addition, designers should always consider the Orientation of the LED in their circuit boards when considering their thermal management strategy. Vertical orientation is ideal as it allows the most efficient convection of heat to the ground plane, while horizontal is worst. Also, opting for 2 oz rather than 1 oz copper when possible can double the lateral thermal conductivity of the component side copper plane, thereby reducing the resistance of the LED.


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