Metal-Insulated Substrates: The Choice for Extremely Heat-Sensitive Projects

The term “IMS” stands for “Insulated Metal Substrate,” which combines an insulating layer and a metal base. The insulating layer can be made from materials such as ceramics or polyimide, while the metal base is typically composed of aluminum or copper. This combination not only meets the circuit’s insulation requirements but also provides enhanced heat management capabilities. Due to its integrated metal layer, it is also known as MCPCB. In comparison, the thermal conductivity of IMS PCB is 8 to 12 times that of traditional FR-4 PCB. This advantage makes it highly suitable for high-temperature or high-power operating environments.

Top IMS PCB Manufacturers

FS Technology has a 20-year history in the PCB and PCBA industry. With extensive experience and a wealth of past cases, we have accumulated valuable insights into our clients’ underlying needs. Through continuous service and experience, we have gained a clear understanding of what our clients require and are committed to optimizing our processes to produce flawless IMS PCB.

Most clients seeking IMS PCB, are urgently looking for improved heat dissipation solutions for their projects. Many projects are related to LED, industrial, or automotive electronics. Clearly, these fall within FS Technology’s service domain. For automotive applications, we provide the industry-required IATF16949:2016 standard. In the industrial sector, we excel in producing control boards for industrial equipment.

With FS Technology’s services, you will not only complete your production work but also gain access to additional options to accelerate your project and ensure a great experience.


The advantages of IMS PCB are primarily focused on thermal management and excel in various high-power applications. However, their cost is slightly higher than traditional PCB. So is it worth paying more or is it really needed?

Advantages of IMS PCB

Thermal Management

During the operation of electronic devices, applying voltage to provide the required current is essential. However, this process generates a significant amount of heat within the circuits. According to the law of conservation of energy, energy is transformed from one form to another, and it doesn’t simply disappear. In electronic circuits, the heat generated is typically categorized as waste heat, representing an energy loss. This waste heat can originate from the flow of current in the circuit, the operation of power components, and more. In any case, it signifies energy dissipation, sometimes accounting for up to 75% of the total energy consumption. Apart from energy losses, the accumulation of heat, if not effectively dissipated, directly affects the circuit’s performance and may even lead to component damage. The gradual worsening of this issue can have adverse effects on the safety and brand reputation of electronic devices. When facing such problems, IMS PCB is a more effective solution.

IMS PCB is renowned for its internal insulation layer, which significantly reduces thermal resistance, allowing heat to freely transfer between different layers of the PCB and ultimately dissipate into the surrounding environment. Generally, the thermal conductivity of IMS PCB ranges from 0.8 to 3 W/°Ck. The following figure compares the thermal performance of FR4 and Insulated Metal Substrate.

Thermal profile of FR-4 PCB
IMS PCB heat dissipation level

Electromagnetic Shield

Electronics are frequently used in daily life, but when different electronic devices are in proximity, they can generate electromagnetic radiation, leading to mutual interference between the devices. To address this, electronic manufacturers and design engineers often employ conductive materials to achieve electromagnetic shielding. Another effective method is the use of IMS PCB, which features a conductive metal base in its structure. This can effectively prevent electromagnetic radiation from radiating outward, thus reducing the likelihood of interfering with other devices or the surrounding environment.

Highly Reliable

Compared to traditional substrate materials, insulated metal substrates demonstrate higher reliability. This reliability is evident in various aspects, including mechanical strength, resistance to physical impacts, and fire resistance. This is understandable since IMS PCB incorporates metal materials, allowing them to withstand more external pressure and impacts. Concerning fire resistance, while FR4 materials possess self-extinguishing properties and are relatively good fire-resistant materials, they still fall slightly short compared to insulated metal substrates. Due to the unique properties of metals, they are less susceptible to heat and ignition sources.

However, for applications that prioritize lightweight design, IMS PCB might not be the optimal choice, as they tend to be relatively heavy. In such cases, a trade-off may be necessary, considering other materials or design options to meet the specific requirements of the application.

Application of IMS PCB

When other conditions are equal, metal substrates often come at a higher price. However, when dealing with high-power applications, we are compelled to leverage the heat dissipation capabilities of metal substrates. IMS PCB presents a compromise, meeting heat dissipation requirements while reducing costs. So, which applications are suitable for this type of PCB?

Firstly, the field of lighting, particularly high-power LED spotlights, faces the challenge of heat dissipation in these applications. The most common solution is to use aluminum-based boards. While aluminum PCB offer excellent heat dissipation and reliability, they are expensive and difficult to process. For instance, companies like FS Technology can only manufacture 4-layer aluminum PCB. IMS PCB serves as an excellent alternative, addressing the drawbacks of aluminum PCB in terms of price and manufacturing difficulty while providing good thermal conductivity to enhance circuit heat dissipation performance.

IMS PCB also excels in automotive electronics, applicable to various components, such as power steering, engine control circuits, and headlights. In automotive electronics, circuit boards need to face more extreme environments, including vibrations and physical impacts during travel, heat accumulation in tight interior spaces, and the threats posed by various chemical solutions. When dealing with a combination of threats, this versatile material is a good choice.

Beyond automotive electronics, electronic applications in fields like industry and power are also exposed to different environmental challenges. Using IMS PCBs as the main control boards helps protect the critical components from threats during device operation.

Moreover, there are more applications suitable for IMS PCB, such as solid-state relays and large-scale computers. These devices share a common characteristic: dense circuit and component layouts. During device operation, heat is challenging to dissipate effectively into the external environment, and IMS PCB can facilitate this process.

IMS PCB Thermal Management Process

As you’ve gathered from the previous content, the key focus of IMS PCB is thermal management. So, how does it execute this process, or in other words, how does it assist in achieving effective thermal management? Let’s delve into this now!

When it comes to thermal management of circuit boards, thermal resistance is a crucial factor. Thermal resistance reflects how easily a material conducts heat at high temperatures, so lower thermal resistance implies higher thermal and heat dissipation capabilities.

Compared to common epoxy resins, metal materials exhibit significantly lower thermal resistance, making IMS PCB an excellent thermal management solution. The metal base in IMS PCB provides stronger support for the circuit board, and the dielectric layer possesses both heat dissipation functionality and dielectric strength. This enables PCB designers to create more compact PCB. Compact and high-density PCB often generate more heat, but the metal base in IMS PCB helps dissipate heat more effectively, thus enhancing the board’s thermal performance and extending its lifespan.

In IMS PCB, aluminum or copper is typically chosen as the metal layer for thermal control, with a thickness of around 1.6 mm or 1.0 mm. Aluminum is often a more cost-effective choice, but the actual selection depends on design requirements. However, it’s worth noting that in high-temperature environments, designers may consider using heat dissipation holes to enhance the board’s heat dissipation capacity. Nevertheless, the efficiency of heat dissipation holes in IMS PCB is generally lower as they need to penetrate the conductive metal, which might raise thermal insulation concerns. Therefore, in such cases, excessive use of heat dissipation holes is not recommended, as the thermal conductivity of the metal base itself is already quite remarkable.

FS Technology is your premier partner for IMS PCB supply. We possess outstanding PCB manufacturing capabilities that can meet the requirements of various PCB projects. If you’d like to gain a deeper understanding of FS Technology, feel free to get in touch with us directly. Our customer service team is available around the clock, ready to answer any questions you may have. If you’re interested in visiting our automated digital factory in person, we warmly welcome your visit!

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