LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future

Reading time ( words)

Dave_Lackey.jpgProbably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well. All you have to do is look around you can see evidence of this everywhere from holiday lights in your home and Jumbotrons at sports arenas, to highway and business signage. The lighting industry is now dominated by LED technology.

Our understanding of, and status as experts in LED technology did not come easy. As a matter of fact, it took a number of years before we were able to learn and process all of the basic facets of this technology. In this column, I’d like to share some of the things we have learned.

First, it is critical to work closely with your LED customers. You must have a complete understanding of the parameters of their end product in order to advise them on the best way to design the circuit board for maximum efficiency and heat dissipation. This means that you have to know exactly how much heat the end product is going to be exposed to, including how much the product itself will be producing. By knowing this you the fabricator can determine not only which material to use to fabricate the printed circuits, but also advise the designer on the basic construction of the PCB. I have seen a number of instances, for example, where by choosing the right thermal laminates we were able to avoid having a metal-backed heat dissipation shield completely.

Secondly, we learned that we have to work with our vendors—particularly our laminate vendors—to not only make sure that they have the right thermal products on the shelf today, but also to help them in the development of future new products. Right now, for example, my company has just UL-approved six different new thermal control laminates to be used on our LED, metal back, RF and heavy copper products. It is not only important to let our vendors know what our needs are and will be, it is as critically important to listen to them as well. After all they are the experts of their own products.

Speaking of vendors, we also worked very closely with our solder mask suppliers, seeking their expertise on the best black, and more importantly, white inks to use. This was not easy challenge since these products are seeing a lot of heat, which tends to affect the color of inks. We worked with our vendor on the challenges we had with white solder mask, which tends to turn yellow with heat. But I am glad to say that by working together this problem was solved to the point where we are now getting excellent results using white solder mask on our thermal products.

We are now at a point in our company where we are building literally thousands of LED PCBs every single day, most on them on a quick turn basis, which makes us one of the industry leaders in this technology. But like everything else worth doing we had to meet a lot of challenges to get there.

The key to our success in LED technology comes from working very closely with our customers to get a good understanding of what their end products will look like, and how they will have to perform once out in the field. By keeping an ongoing discourse with vendors, both parties can learn from one other and together, forge a true technology partnership to build the best PCBs possible.

Dave Lackey is vice president of business development at American Standard Circuits.



Suggested Items

What’s Driving Price Increases for CCL and Prepreg?

01/20/2021 | Mark Goodwin, Ventec International Group
Demand for copper foil is increasing from both PCB and battery production for e-mobility, leading to an upward price pressure for copper foils as post lockdown pent-up demand starts to exceed capacity. Lead times are stretching and prices increasing, particularly for heavy copper foils (2 oz./70 micron and above) as capacity is repurposed to maximize square-meter output for lightweight foils to increase capacity for lithium battery production.

EIPC Technical Snapshot: PCB Surface Finishes

12/28/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
For the third in a series of Technical Snapshot webinars, EIPC chose to focus on PCB surface finishes, comparing specific properties, examining corrosion behaviour and discussing selection criteria for low-loss, high frequency applications.

Prices of Copper-Clad Laminates Continue to Rise

12/18/2020 | I-Connect007 China Team
Forces within and outside the PCB industry have led to concerns over rising prices for raw materials of copper-clad laminates (CCL). Recently, two major explosions at epoxy resin plants in China had a great impact on domestic resin suppliers. Prices have risen steadily in 2020, with leading CCL manufacturers announcing price increases of 20-30% recently. As the cost of raw materials such as electronic copper foil, resin and glass fiber have risen, the cost for manufacturing CCL has taken off as well.

Copyright © 2021 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.