PCB Heat Management Processes and Systems


Research has shown that out-of-control heat causes over half of all electronic system failures. Assuming that we can carry out good heat management, we can drastically drive down the number of electronic system failures.

As electronic gadgets keep on being scaled down, the heat demands in these frameworks increment as more features are pressed into more modest gadgets. This is particularly obvious in printed circuit boards (PCBs) that work at high current-carrying capacities. High output power systems, for example, Li+ ion cells utilized in electric vehicles, require an integrated power management system that is based on PCBs. Designers and producers should carry out innovative methodologies to oversee heat produced in a high current PCB design.

Thermal resistance is the distinction in temperature between two shut surfaces partitioned by the absolute heat flow between the surfaces. The level of heat resistance regularly relies upon PCB configuration factors. Utilizing surface mount parts affects positively by reducing thermal resistance. area and thickness of the copper foil on the PCB and the thickness and material utilized for the PCB have a more noteworthy impact. Essentially, more extensive and thicker materials disseminate more heat. However, constraints exist due to the standard utilization of materials and due to item details.

Printed circuit board thermal management techniques to reduce overheating

For effective thermal performance, PCB designers ought to consider the following heat management techniques;

  1. Marking thermal hot spots and high-current traces

  • To manufacture a thermally steady PCB, thermal impacts should be contemplated during the planning stage itself. The initial phase in the thermal plan is to distinguish the areas of interest.
  • Heat modeling and simulation strategies are utilized to track down areas of interest. Additionally, current flow examination should be done alongside it, since high-current follows cause generation of heat.

  • The legitimate statistical course of action of parts and high-current follows empowers even dissemination of heat. High-current follows should be steered away from thermally touchy parts, for example, sensors and Op-amps.
  1. The thickness of copper and width of traces

Consideration of width of traces for proficient PCB thermal management.

  • The thickness and width of the copper pads or traces assume a critical part of the PCB heat management plan.
  • Copper traces thickness ought to be satisfactory to give a low impedance path for current going through it.
  • This is on the grounds that the opposition of copper traces and vias represent huge power loss and thermal generation especially when they carry high current density. Along these lines, adequate trace width and thickness are prescribed to diminish thermal generation.


  1. Pad design for printed circuit board (PCB) thermal management.

  • Very much like trace thickness, pad thickness is additionally significant. Heat is disseminated straightforwardly towards the top copper layer. In this way, the top copper pad should have adequate thickness and surface area to give sufficient heat dispersion.

  • Assuming that the PCB configuration has heat sinks in it, they are normally mounted on the base copper pad. Then, at that point, the base copper pad ought to have adequate inclusion to permit the ideal thermal transfer to the heatsink.
  • The parts pin are bound to the PCB upheld by pads. The part is joined with the pad which brings about exceptionally low thermal resistance from the PCB. An exceptional welding pad, that is thermal pad is utilized on the circuit board. This pad is just associated with slender bridges to the copper-encompassing pour.
  • The patch glue used to join the part footprint with the thermal pad ought to be negligible.
  • An excessive amount of solder paste under the thermal pad can bring about the drifting of parts on a pool of liquid bind during reflow. At the point when this occurs, the part bundle will move. The answer to the drifting package issue is to improve the patch glue or solder paste volume.
  1. The setting of high-power components in PCB

  • For better thermal dispersal, high-power parts, for example, processors and microcontrollers ought to be put at the focal point of the PCB. Assuming that a powerful part is mounted close to the edge of the board, it will amass heat at the edge and raise the temperature. In any case, on the off chance that the gadget is put at the focal point of the board, heat will disperse over the surface in every direction. Hence the surface temperature of the PCB would be lower and disperses without any problem.

  • Likewise, ensure you have put high-power parts from delicate gadgets and keep an appropriate distance between 2 high-power gadgets. Attempt to put high-power parts uniformly across the PCB.
  1. PCB thermal vias layout

  • Thermal vias are heat-directing copper barrels that run between the top and lower parts of the board. Such vias are great heat conductors that move heat away from basic electronic parts. These vias are ordinarily used to work with fast heat dissemination away from surface mount gadgets (SMD).
  • Assume there is no space for a cooling framework on top of the PCB, as on account of a coordinated sensor, indicator, or a loaded board with various parts. The most straightforward method for scattering heat would be through thermal vias to the cooling system (heat sink/ heat pipes).
  • The number of warm vias under BGAs or processors ought not to be set in stone by the designers considering the heat dispersal reach and surface area. Standard thermal via parameters are as referenced below:
  • The distance across is 12 mil (0.3 mm) put on 25 mils (0.64 mm) lattice spacing.
  • Standard copper plating thickness is 1 mil (25 μm) with no via fills.
  1. Heat sink

  • The heat sink is a cooling technique that moves dispersed heat from PCB parts into a cooling medium. Heat sink deals with the principle of conduction which expresses that heat moves from an area of high thermal resistance to an area of low thermal resistance.
  • The heat additionally moves from high-temperature regions to low-temperature regions and how much heat flow is straightforwardly relative to the temperature contrast. The heat sink draws heat away from the PCB to blades that give a bigger surface region to quicker thermal dispersion.
  • PCB designers can pick a reasonable heat sink for their design in light of a few elements. For instance, the thermal resistivity of material utilized, the speed of cooling liquid inside the sink, the warm point of interaction material utilized, the number of blades and the space between blades, and the mounting method utilized.
  1. The integration of heat pipe

  • Heat pipes are cooling gadgets suggested for higher temperatures applications, for example, in rockets, satellites, and aeronautics. The heat pipes are for the most part accessible in an empty round and hollow shape, yet it very well may be made into any shape advantageously.

  • The heat dispersed from different gadgets is moved to the fluid inside the heat pipe and disintegrates the fluid. The vaporized fluid condensate at the condenser end and gets back to the evaporator through the wick structure by capillarity. This cyclic interaction guarantees the disseminated heat away from the PCB.
  • PCB designers ought to consider a heat pipe that covers their heat source and ought to have the option to twist according to your plan needs. There is a wide scope of heat pipe working liquids accessible, from cryogens to fluid metals. Working liquid determination relies upon the temperature scope of the circuit and the liquid’s substance similarity with the container and the wick of the heat pipe.
  1. Use of thicker printed circuit boards.

  • For more modest gadgets, cooling techniques like a heat sink, heat pipes, cooling fans are impossible by any stretch of the imagination. In such cases, the main choice is to build the thermal conductivity of the board and spread the created heat. Thick boards with a similarly bigger surface region can scatter heat rapidly.
  • The thermal conductivity of a PCB is resolved in view of the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of the materials utilized and their thickness.
  • Designers should concentrate entirely on picking material for each layer in the PCB stackup. At the point when the coefficient of thermal expansion of the different materials utilized in various layers is bungled, (repeated thermal cycling) weakness happens to decrease the thermal conductivity. Copper plating in vias and solder balls are more defenseless against harm under high thermal cycling.
  1. Incorporated cooling techniques

  • Integrated cooling techniques are utilized to accomplish higher coefficients of thermal conductivity contrasted with customary heatsink and fan arrangements. The idea is to blow a cooling agent through vias straightforwardly to the lower part of the processors or BGAs or any heating parts.

  • The number of vias ought to be determined by the PCB designer, depending upon the thermal criteria of the mounted part. A solitary via is viewed as first, more can be added on request which relies upon the speed of the cooling liquid and the surface area of the part.
  • There are additionally different sorts of integrated cooling strategies, for instance, the inboard cooling strategy delineated previously. In this technique, a hotness exchanger is fused inside the actual board. Since no outer hotness sink or cold plate is required, the

  • PCB gathering steps and the heaviness of the result is decreased. However, these coolers require an exceptionally high warm through-thickness around the cooling channels.
  1. The soldering concentration.

  • The soldering thickness of component joints ought to be even and surrounding to decrease heat accumulation on the part leads. Additional consideration should be given while fastening close vias. There is an opportunity for the patch to overfill the opening prompting bumps on the lower part of the board and this diminishes the contact area of the heat sink.
  • PCB planners have two choices to keep away from the flood of a bind. The first thing is to diminish the breadth of the via underneath to 0.3mm. The more modest the vias, the surface strain of the fluid bind inside the via is better, ready to counter the power of gravity on the solder.
  • The subsequent choice is the interaction called tenting. It includes covering the stack of the via with a patch of soldering mask to keep the solder from streaming down to the via.
  1. Thermal simulation of printed circuit boards

  • A definite thermal simulation serves to exactly track down the temperature of a thermal hotspot in a PCB. Thermal simulation is the color scale guide of temperature in the heating area acquired under various circumstances. The unit of temperature in the simulation is degrees celsius(°C). The color scale maps are acquired by computing the temperatures of thousands of points from the circuit boards.

The reason why you should perform thermal simulation

  • To find hot areas of interest to stay away from the gamble of gadget failure.
  • Distinguish the conceivable dependability of dielectric material with different CTE values
  • Further develops item unwavering quality.
  • Warm reproductions can diminish the expense of execution by decreasing designing deferrals, field disappointments, and item emphasis.
  • Further developing execution and correspondence between the designing and electrical groups.
  1. Bigger PCB housing

  • Finally, a bigger PCB housing framework can be utilized for cooling too. Screws used to mount the PCB can fill in as effective heat flow paths to the framework body when the screws are thermally associated with spreader and ground planes.
  • The number of screws ought to be increased with the eventual result of unavoidable losses when contrasted with transfer impact and cost.
  • Metal PCB hardening plates can give an extra cooling region when joined with the heat spreading plane. For applications where the PCB is encased in a housing or other fenced-in area, a cavity filler material gives an improved thermal execution over an air-filled enclosure.
  • Cooling solutions, for example, fans and heat sinks are likewise normal ways of cooling a framework, yet regularly require extra space or design adjustments to upgrade cooling potential.


Common PCB cooling systems

  1. Fans for PCB cooling

  • Most electronic PCBs depend on cooling fans, with sizes ranging from 10-inch blowers to 8 mm miniature fans. A couple of heat plan conditions can limit the choice options. Early framework prototypes can assist with refining fan determination.
  • The intricacy of airflow implies that picking the right fan might require experimentation. A best practice is to begin the thermal plan from the start of the hardware prototyping.
  • Fans move the air by making a pressure differential. If the air is hindered, pressure develops, and no air moves. Assuming the fan is out in the open, there is no pressure across the fan, and the airflow is amplified. The working point is somewhere close to these limits.
  • One huge limitation of using fans as a method of PCB cooling is that some fans produce a lot of irritating noise during operation.
  1. Heat sink

  • A heat sink and fan (HSF) is a functioning chilling solution used to cool PCB. As the name proposes, it is made out of a passive cooling unit and a fan.

  • There are 2 types of heatsink namely; active and passive.
  1. Active heat sink

  • Active heat sinks use the PCBs power supply and may incorporate a fan. Now and then these kinds of heat sinks are alluded to as (HSF), heat sink, and fan. There are additionally fluid cooling frameworks, which have become famous lately.
  1. Passive heat sink

  • This type of heat sink is one that has no mechanical parts. Subsequently, they are 100 percent solid. They are made of an aluminum finned radiator that scatters heat through convection. For passive heat sinks to work to their full limit, there should be a consistent wind current getting across the fins.

  1. Liquid cooling system

  • A fluid cooling system is a method used to keep a PCB processor’s temperature low involving water as the cooling medium. This cooling system gives effective cooling and assists with limiting the clamor produced by higher processor speeds.

Types of liquid-cooled systems

  1. Integrated cooling systems

  • This cooling system, similar to its name, comes included as a component of a PCB housing.
  • As all of the fluid cooling gear is gathered inside the housing, presumably this is the least demanding choice to work with.
  • This is because it will normally give you the most room accessible inside the housing without having any outside parts to manage.
  1. Internal cooling systems

  • This cooling system has the water-cooling parts set inside the PCB housing.
  • This is because most PCB housings are not planned with this sort of system ordinarily, things may be somewhat clogged. As a benefit, this establishment permits you to keep your beloved case and to move the completed item around with less difficulty.
  1. External cooling systems

  • In this system, the radiator, supply, and pump are assembled remotely in a different unit.
  • As a functioning technique, the fluid coolant is siphoned into the PCB case, and in a return section, a return line pumps the hot coolant that was sent cold out of the case and into the supply.
  • The benefit of the external cooling system is that it bears the cost of the inside working space of a coordinated framework as well as can adjust to use with any ordinary case.
  • It takes into account a huge radiator and has more cooling power than some other incorporated solutions.
  • The drawback is that an exterior cooling framework isn’t quite as versatile as integrated or interior frameworks.

Step by step instructions to Identify Thermal Problems with Your PCB

Designers can utilize a wide scope of procedures to distinguish possible issues. Well-known approaches incorporate the utilization of thermal analysis instruments, visual assessments, and infrared cameras.

  1. Direct Thermal Analysis

  • Playing out a warm investigation lays out how the parts and PCB will act at various temperatures and conditions. The investigation furnishes creators with a thought of the hotness age and moves inside the circuit.
  • Architects can then utilize the analyzed results and reenactments to concoct strategies that will assist them with better heat management.

  1. Visually Inspecting the Circuit Board without Power

  • The visual investigation is a simple method for tracking down indications of overheating, by looking at burned or partially damaged parts, dry joints, arcing, and so on.

  • A portion of the apparent signs incorporates protruding parts, burnt parts, and stained spots on the PCB. Notwithstanding the visual investigation, a smell from the board can likewise highlight heating issues.
  1. Utilize Infrared Cameras

  • Test specialists can utilize IR cameras to assess powered prototype boards for thermal issues and distinguish issues imperceptible to the naked eye. As well as showing regions where there is an overabundance of heat, the cameras can once in a while distinguish fake or damaged parts whose heat signature contrast from those of genuine parts.

  • Thermal imaging cameras can likewise distinguish where the tracks have a lacking solder, hence more heat dispersal.


PCB thermal management procedures rely upon various elements including how much heat the parts and circuit disperse, the climate, the general plan, and the enclosure. Assuming the heat generated is low, the circuit can work without extra cooling. However, if the circuit creates higher measures of heat, there should be a cooling instrument to remove the heat.

To give thermally optimized PCBs, producers ought to consider all that impacts temperature right from the concept stage and all through the plan and assembling stages.