We’re all familiar with LED (light emitting diode) lights. But do you know about the component present at the heart of PCB (printed circuit board) lighting? LED PCB is one of the revolutionary technologies that have made LEDs useful for various consumer and industrial lighting applications.
LEDs generate a lot of heat, and keeping that heat under control is crucial for maintaining the structural integrity of the components. Fortunately, LED PCB technology has an enhanced ability to disperse heat away from the LED. Keep reading to learn more about the circuit boards used in LEDs and how they function.
What is an LED PCB?
A PCB, or a printed circuit board, is the baseboard on which components are laid to create a circuit. An LED, or light emitting diode, is a conductor that transfers an electrical current into light. By soldering a series of LEDs into a PCB, a functional lighting device is made.
The basic construction of an LED PCB requires the following components:
- A PCB
- LED chips
- A heat sink
The heat sink is vital as LED chips are notorious for creating large amounts of heat. However, it can be difficult to cool with conventional methods. Hence, PCB assemblers rely on metal core PCB for dissipating heat.
Aluminum is often used to fabricate LED PCBs. The thin layer of thermally conductive dielectric material present in aluminum PCBs can transfer and dissipate heat more efficiently than conventional rigid boards.
Surface-Mount Device LEDs
By soldering all the components of a circuit to the surface of a PCB, the board will be naturally thinner. LED chips are not very thick themselves, and connections via surface-soldered wiring can create very thin PCBs.
This setup is known as an SMD (Surface-Mount Device). A single LED light fixture comprises multiple LED PCBs, as they do not produce enough light individually. Soldering multiple LED PCBs together is the best way to create a powerful light source with minimal parts. They are also more efficient for it.
These types of PCBs can be used in several ways to reduce the size of the products they help build. Without the addition of lightbulbs or raised circuitry, SMD LEDs keep devices sleek. What’s more, their wider surface area allows for higher heat dissipation. Many modern devices, such as cell phones, calculators, and tablet computers, utilize SMD-styled PCBs. This allows them to be thin, light, and not overheat during use.
Benefits of LED PCB
There are multiple benefits to using purpose-built PCBs in LED lightning. Some of them include:
- Smaller size, less weight – LED PCBs benefit from being smaller than traditional PCBs and requiring less circuitry to run. As they are generally significantly thinner, they are much lighter and require less securing to hold them in place.
- Easier integration – requiring only a basic circuit, LED PCBs can be integrated into any surface or device. They can be placed flush to a surface without affecting the overall shape or weight of the area they are attached to. Be sure to ask your EMS solutions partner about the possibilities.
- Efficient power consumption – requiring only enough power to run the circuit board itself takes much less power to run.
- Controllable color and brightness – each chip can be calibrated and controlled to emit different strengths of light. Modifications can also allow for different colored LEDs to be placed in the circuit.
- Better heat dissipation – as the heat generated by the LEDs is sunk through the PCB core, they do not build up heat as much as other lighting options.
- Long usage life – due to how the lights are formed using numerous LED chips, the lifespan of a single LED is significantly higher than that of a regular bulb. The chips are far less likely to burn out and are not burst by sudden fluctuations of energy.
For these reasons, LED PCBs have become much more popular than traditional fixtures. They are much more ideal for modern housing and lighting design because they allow for discreet installation and many facets of control.
Applications of LED PCB
Due to their energy efficiency, design flexibility, and low build cost, LED PCBs have become a common part of many major industries. Some examples of this are:
The Medical Industry
Many aspects of surgery and medical examination require a high degree of visibility. Therefore, LED PCBs have become a staple in constructing important tools used by medical professionals. Integrated into small torches, they aid general practitioners in lighting small parts of the body like ears and noses. They are also leveraged for internal diagnostic tools such as endoscopic cameras, and they help create light for operating tables, too.
The Automotive Industry
LEDs have helped improve the power of all lights found within vehicles. They offer better illumination for headlights, indicators, and fog lights while also lowering the cost of construction. Interior and dashboard lights are also more controllable, with various brightness and color settings available. The longevity of LED lighting also greatly lessens the need for replacements or burnouts during emergencies.
As temperature control is vital for running computers, LED PCBs and their heat dissipation have become effective for helping build computers. Including LED PCBs rarely adds strain to a PC’s general heat creation. LEDs are used for indicator lights on other PCBs and power sources. Also, LED display screens and indicators are becoming more popular in PC maufacutring, giving users more insight into the function of their machines.
The heat transfers of LED displays and indicators have helped advance the functionality of mobile communications devices. Often, overheated screens will lead to further damage to the circuitry of the device itself. LED PCBs have helped to drastically reduce the number of malfunctions found in these devices. Their low cost and malleable nature make them much easier to work with, allowing for more functional designs.
LED PCBs have revolutionized the construction of many devices and machines. They have made products much more portable by allowing for sleeker, thinner designs and lessening the degree of heat damage. Their cheap costs and long life make them integral for constructing affordable machines in many industries.
Long gone are the days of unwieldy machinery. The future is sleek, cheap, and bright.