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PCB | April 07, 2009

IMS PCBs score in LED applications

Whether for automotive, architectural or general lighting – LEDs are increasingly used on PCB with IMS (Insulated Metallic Substrates) technology. PCBs with insulated metal substrates are not really new; their high thermal conductivity make them predestined for usage in lighting technology with LEDs.
With an increasing packing density and degree of miniaturization on the PCB, as well as an increased use of components with high heat generation – high-power LEDs or conventional relays – many PCBs reach their limits. The low thermal conductivity of the materials used (less than 0.3 W/mK) can not distribute the heat evenly and are unable to conduct away heat from the PCB. The results are hotspots, which in turn lead to Heat Sinks not functioning optimally. To not exceed the permissible operating temperatures of the components, we need to conduct away the heat at the best possible rate. Otherwise, malfunctions will occur – a shift in colour spectrum with the LEDs, a shortened life span and in extreme cases even damage or total loss of components, assembly group of end product.

Concepts for heat emission are often sought-after, because in many cases the use of base materials with improved thermal conductivity values is not sufficient enough. Due to this, other areas of thermal management such as design, development concepts and new ablative materials also see increased research and development.



Using IMS as a circuit carrier, LEDs can operate at lower temperatures
A proven technology to reduce heat efficiently and at a low cost – a technology used for years – is to use IMS (Insulated Metallic Substrates): PCBs with insulated metal substrates. AT&S is a specialist in this area and is selling its IMS PCBs under the acronym TC-PCB (Thermal Conductive PCB). They are developed and manufactured at the company’s facility in Klagenfurt, Austria. PCBs with IMS technology can be used in LED lighting, power conversion applications and automotive applications (e.g. in engine control units). The advantages of IMS PCBs are quite obvious. The better heat distribution and heat emission enables to increase power density to increase – simultaneously to an optimised and extended usage of the PCB itself. This results in new application fields in an ever expanding field of lightning technology.

With using IMS as a circuit carrier, LEDs can operate at a lower temperature, which allows a higher efficiency. It reduces energy consumption, which in turn reduces heat emission. In addition, the life span of LED-based light bulbs is very much higher that that of conventional light bulbs or energy saving bulbs. This results in lower operating and maintenance costs, which reduces the costs compared to conventional lighting systems significantly.

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