Are you aware that all electronic devices and systems depend on printed circuit boards to operate? Various printed circuit boards vary by rigidity, fabrication style, or manufacturing material in each. Anodized aluminum PCBs are one of the most famous examples of printed circuit boards since 1970. The following information explains more about these anodized aluminum printed circuit boards.
What are Anodized Aluminum PCBs?
Anodized aluminum PCBs are printed circuit boards with a thin layer of aluminum oxide on their surface. In addition, this layer serves as a barrier to protect the aluminum beneath it from oxidation and other forms of corrosion. Moreover, anodization is the technique used when putting the anodized aluminum oxide layer on the printed circuit board. Additionally, this procedure involves sending an electrical current through the aluminum, forming an oxide layer on its surface. By adjusting the voltage of the electrical current, we can manipulate the thickness of the oxide layer. Equally important is that the anodized aluminum PCB has a thin solder mask layer over the oxide layer. The solder mask layer prevents the PCB’s exposed metal surfaces from corrosion and oxidation. Since their introduction in the 1970s, anodized aluminum printed circuit boards (PCBs) have risen to prominence in the electronic industry.
The following are among the most noticeable characteristics of anodized aluminum PCBs:
Good thermal conductivity
Due to the presence of the aluminum oxide layer, anodized aluminum PCBs have enhanced thermal conductivity. Furthermore, this layer serves to disperse heat away from critical components, hence improving the performance of the PCB as a whole.
The aluminum oxide layer added to the surface of an anodized aluminum PCB is highly resistant to wear and strain. Consequently, anodized aluminum PCBs are considerably more durable than other types of PCBs available on the market.
Good soldering properties
The aluminum oxide layer on an anodized aluminum PCB can enhance the PCB’s solderability. It is, therefore, easier to connect components dependably.
Proper electrical insulation
The aluminum oxide layer added to an anodized aluminum PCB also functions as an effective electrical insulator, protecting electrically vulnerable components.
Superior chemical resistance
Anodized aluminum PCBs are exceptionally resistant to corrosion and other chemical damage. They are, therefore, suitable for usage under challenging situations.
Anodized aluminum PCB assembly procedure
The following is the procedure for assembling anodized aluminum PCBs:
The process begins with washing the anodized aluminum PCB. In this case, we will need to utilize a solvent to clean the anodized aluminum PCB. The solvent cleans the surface of the anodized aluminum PCB by removing dirt and oil. Then, we will rinse the anodized aluminum PCB using water. With the clean anodized aluminum PCB, it is time to dry it. The anodized aluminum PCB is now ready for the next step in the anodized aluminum PCB assembly procedure.
The second step is the actual assembly process of the anodized aluminum PCBs. In this case, a fixture holds the anodized aluminum PCB in a fixed position awaiting solder pasting. Then, employ a soldering iron to apply solder paste and the anodized aluminum PCB. The soldering iron also heats the anodized aluminum PCB and solder to achieve a solid union. Then, using molten solder, we now solder the components of the anodized aluminum PCB and allow them to cool and solidify. Finally, we detach the anodized aluminum PCB from the fixture, which is ready for use.
Anodized aluminum PCBs are increasingly becoming the favored option for various electrical applications. Anodized aluminum is an ideal substrate for printed circuit boards in multiple applications, from medical gadgets to military gear. Here are a few of the benefits that make anodized aluminum PCBs the material of choice for many electrical designers and manufacturers:
1. High thermal conductivity
Thermal conductivity is among the essential characteristics of any PCB material. Many applications, therefore, consider this crucial factor, particularly those involving high-power components or where PCBs must work in harsh temperatures. The thermal conductivity of anodized metal is 237 W/mK, which is unusually high, indicating that components installed on an anodized aluminum PCB can dissipate heat rapidly and effectively. Consequently, this is a significant advantage over other PCB materials, such as FR-4, which have substantially lower thermal conductivity ratings.
2. Long-Lasting and Reliable
Anodized aluminum is a highly resilient material resistant to various environmental variables. It is not prone to deterioration or corrosion due to exposure to ultraviolet light. In addition, anodized aluminum PCBs can endure severe temperatures, making them excellent for use in outdoor or industrial applications. This endurance means that anodized aluminum PCBs have a longer useful life, saving money over the product’s lifetime.
3. Thin and lightweight
Anodized aluminum is substantially lighter than other PCB materials, such as FR-4. Consequently, this can be a considerable advantage in applications where weight is a crucial factor. In addition, in tiny applications, the availability of anodized aluminum in extremely thin gauges can save space.
Anodized aluminum PCBs are typically more cost-effective than other varieties. Additionally, several variables, such as the lower cost of raw materials, make these PCBs more cost-efficient. Additionally, we can manufacture anodized aluminum more straightforwardly than other materials.
Anodized aluminum is a recyclable material, making it an eco-friendly option for PCB production.
Due to its many shortcomings, anodized aluminum printed circuit boards (PCBs) are not popular in the electronics sector. The following are some of the most significant disadvantages of anodized aluminum PCBs:
- Anodized aluminum PCBs are more expensive than FR4 boards and other types of PCBs since they require a costly and time-consuming specialized production procedure.
- They have poor thermal conductivity and are, therefore, unsuitable for applications where heat dissipation is crucial.
- Anodized aluminum PCBs are not RoHS compliant. Hence they are not suitable for applications that require RoHS compliance.
- Due to their fragility, anodized aluminum printed circuit boards (PCBs) are challenging to handle. Additionally, they are difficult to solder, which might cause issues throughout the assembly process.
- Due to their increased vulnerability to mechanical damage, anodized aluminum PCBs are less durable than other PCB types.
Due to the numerous advantages of anodized PCB assembly, they are applicable in the following areas:
- LED lighting is one of the most common uses of anodized aluminum PCBs. As a result, LED lights are gaining popularity in various indoor and outdoor settings. Anodized aluminum PCBs are an excellent option for usage in LED lights due to their durability, resistance to corrosion, and heat.
- The anodized metal coating and the anodized aluminum PCBs are well-suited for outdoor electrical applications.
- Furthermore, since the anodized aluminum printed circuit boards are resistant to high temperature and heat, they are suitable for high-temperature applications.
- Moreover, in the automotive industry, anodized aluminum PCBs are also prevalent. Extreme heat and vibrations frequently subject automotive electronics to demanding conditions. PCBs made from anodized aluminum are ideally suited for usage in vehicle electronics due to their endurance.
- Additionally, anodized aluminum and PCBs are applicable in fields such as military electronics, aerospace technology, and medical electronics.
The above details explain the anodized aluminum printed circuit boards. Additionally, these PCBs are unique and have many advantages over other typical printed circuit boards. However, despite these merits, the PCBs also have some limitations that make them less suitable for some electronic applications. In conclusion, anodized aluminum PCBs are a viable option for some specific electronic applications, but with some few exceptions.