Thermal Management

A PC board produces heat that needs to be controlled. Thermal management are the tools and technologies used to maintain a system within its operating temperature range. This is especially the case in lighting devices, processors, power supplies, adapters, or electric engines that need to produce a lot of torque.

Heat can be a problem in a system and engineers need to find a solution to control the temperature. Why? The answer could be summed up in one word: reliability. Many components are made with silicon and overheating is destructive for this material. The optimum temperature is defined by the suppliers. An increase of 20 ° C reduces the life of the component by 50%. As a result, the service life of the device, which affects reliability, raises warranty issues and ultimately reduces the benefits to the manufacturer. Having a fault on a device is not a good thing for anyone and that is why the temperature needs to be controlled.

What kind of impedance design can we meet on PCB?


Increasing the gaps between the lines of a PCB can be a good option for controlling heat in the circuit. But the market trend is to reduce the size of the devices, miniaturize the components, the size of the boards, etc. This solution is not often easy to use in the current trend.


A heatsink is attached to the board or component and provides high heat dissipation. The metal removes heat from the circuit and gives a larger area of contact with the environment (fins) to transfer heat.

Thermal Vias / Path

Thermal Vias are drilled under the component through the board. Vias, which can be plated and not plated, brings fresh air and evacuates heat. Plated vias are more efficient because copper can accumulate more heat.

Copper Inlay/Embedded

Copper inlay are large pieces of copper placed inside the vias. This copper mass keeps the temperature down longer because the more mass, the longer it takes to heat. For example, a small pot of water will take less time to boil than a large one. The copper inlay also acts as a radiator and gives more surface contact with the local environment. Copper can also be buried inside the board. This is called embedded copper.

Liquid-Cooled Systems

In some complex systems, such as powerful servers or computers, engineers can use a liquid-cooled circuit that works just like an automotive cooling system. The fluid circulates in a closed circuit, removes heat from the board and is cooled in a radiator in contact with a fan or at room temperature.

Heavy Copper

Most PCBs are made for low voltage or low power application, but the need for high power devices is growing. Heavy Copper technology is designed to increase current carrying capacity, temperature resistance, reduced products size without the risk of failure. When standard PCBs have traces of copper thickness ranging from ½ oz/ft2 to 3 oz/ft2, Heavy Copper may have traces of up to 20 oz/ft2.

The typical test coupon is a PCB approximately 200 x 30 mm with exactly the same trace construction as the main PCB. It has traces that are designed to be the same width and on the same layer as the controlled traces on the main circuit. This is the best way to assure a good result. The test coupon avoids any additional pads or any changes which can influence the PCB impedance. In cases where the laminate thickness is specified, the manufacturer will adjust the trace width to achieve the value of impedance. This coupon will be tested and checked with appropriate testing equipment. 

Any questions?

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