Flexible PCB LED Strips Guide

Due to the numerous advantages of LED lighting, such as high efficiency, long lifespan, and compact size, its applications in the field of electronics are rapidly expanding. Typically, LED utilize PCB as a structured platform to support and connect key components like LED chips and power sources. While conventional applications often use aluminum-based boards as the main structure for their heat dissipation capabilities, this is not suitable for applications with diverse shapes and curved designs. Therefore, flexible PCB LED strips have emerged to provide more flexible solutions for innovative designs.

flex pcb led

Table of Contents

Introduction to Flexible PCB LED Strip

First, let’s understand the concept of flexible PCB, which is an innovative circuit board constructed with substrate materials like PET, PI, or polyimide film. As the name suggests, it exhibits flexibility, allowing it to bend and fold into various shapes easily. Depending on the manufacturer’s capabilities, flexible PCB can be single-layer, double-layer, or multi-layer structures. However, in the application of flexible PCB LED strips, a simple and efficient single-layer or double-layer structure is commonly used.

Foldable flexible PCB board

Specifically, flexible PCB LED strips refer to flexible PCBA boards equipped with LED components, providing the LED lights with the ability to bend and fold, making them adaptable to various surfaces, including curved and non-linear ones. Compared to traditional LED, LED strips have a broader range of applications, such as ambient lighting in bars or decorative lights during festivals.

flexible led pcb

Types of Flexible PCB LED Strips

Flexible PCB LED strips are mainly classified into two packaging forms: SMD) and COB. Each has unique advantages and applications.

COB flexible pcb led strip VS SMD flexible pcb led strip

SMD LED Strips:

SMD, or Surface Mount Device, involves securely fixing LED chips to the surface of the flexible PCB using solder paste. This traditional packaging form has lower manufacturing costs, making it suitable for large-scale production and compact designs. However, individual SMD LED chips may have relatively lower light output, requiring an increase in the number of LED for projects requiring higher illumination. Additionally, due to the dispersion of LED chips across the entire flexible PCB, additional heat dissipation design may be necessary. Overall, SMD flexible PCB LED strips are suitable for large-scale production and perform well in general and decorative lighting.

COB LED Strips:

COB, or Chip-on-Board, is a more advanced technology that involves cutting a light-emitting wafer into hundreds of smaller chips, which are then directly integrated onto the flexible PCB using a special bonding method. This results in flexible PCB LED strips with higher light density and more uniform light output, along with excellent heat dissipation performance. The drawback is the higher cost and manufacturing complexity, making COB LED strips more suitable for professional lighting and certain special applications.

Designing Flexible PCB LED Strips

In the design of flexible PCB LED strips, besides meeting the multifunctional requirements of the project, a key focus should be on effectively addressing heat dissipation issues. As mentioned earlier, LED convert energy into heat, and the heat dissipation of flexible PCB LED strips directly affects circuit performance and may even cause delamination of the substrate under high thermal stress.

To effectively address this challenge, a key measure is to control the PCB copper thickness. Although copper remains an essential material for arranging circuits in flexible PCB, it is common to use a standard 1 oz PCB copper thickness design to save costs. However, in the design of flexible PCB LED strips, it is strongly recommended to increase the copper thickness to 2oz or even 3oz to gain significant benefits:

Moderately increasing copper thickness helps reduce circuit resistance, thereby improving the overall efficiency of the circuit.

Copper thickness directly determines the current-carrying capacity of the circuit, crucial for high-power flexible PCB LED strips.

Copper is not only an excellent conductor but also an outstanding heat conductor. Increasing copper thickness effectively enhances the heat dissipation capability of flexible PCB, improving the overall system’s reliability.

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