Ultimate Guide to LED PCB Circuit Board

As you stroll through today’s brightly lit bustling streets, you can’t help but marvel at the world’s transformation: the dark streets of the past are long gone. The days of “pitch-black” streets in the ’70s and ’80s have been replaced by the dazzling modern cityscapes. But have you ever wondered what drives this change? The answer lies within the PCB inside the LED lights. This crucial component not only provides robust structural support for the LED but also extends its lifespan through efficient heat dissipation. In this article, TechSparks will delve into this fascinating topic and uncover the secrets of the LED PCB.

Lighting up the streets with LED PCBs

Union of LED and PCB

As usual, TechSparks starts by introducing the concepts of LED and PCB.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) is a solid-state semiconductor device. When current passes through the LED, electrons within the semiconductor are excited. When these excited electrons return to their normal state, they emit photons (light particles). Compared to traditional light sources like incandescent and fluorescent lamps, LED have the advantages of lower energy consumption, longer lifespan, and the absence of harmful substances, making them widely used.

PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is a thin board made of insulating material, on which conductive traces are printed or etched to achieve mechanical support and electrical connection.

Round LED PCB circuit board

Most modern LED lights now rely on PCB, which provides physical support for LED and offers several benefits, such as:

  • Heat Management: LED generate a lot of heat during operation. Metal-core LED PCB can manage this heat more effectively, preventing internal components from being damaged due to heat accumulation.
  • Compact Design: With circuits arranged on a single plane, complex wiring is reduced, making the design of LED lights more compact and lightweight.
  • Reliability: Fixed components on the PCB reduce the complexity of soldering and connections, improving the overall reliability of LED lights.
  • Stable Electrical Connection: PCB ensure stable electrical connections for LED, guaranteeing the proper flow of current and normal operation of LED.

Applications of LED PCB Across Industries

LED light circuit boards are used in various industries, with the most evident examples being billboards and display screens. You can see them in large shopping malls, traffic signs, airport flight information displays, etc. The application of LED PCB greatly improves the brightness and diversity of these display devices, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of information dissemination.

Additionally, LED PCB shine in the lighting industry, gradually replacing traditional incandescent and fluorescent lamps. LED lights are lighter, have a longer lifespan, are free of harmful substances, and reduce unnecessary light scattering, making them the preferred choice for modern home lighting. This not only makes them convenient for users but also helps reduce light pollution.

Our everyday electronic devices, such as smartphones, TVs, and computer monitors, also rely on LED PCB which provide clearer image quality and display effects, enhancing the visibility and convenience of these devices.

Surprisingly, LED PCB are also widely used in the medical field. For example, surgical room shadowless lamps and diagnostic equipment displays use LED PCB technology. Their reliability, accuracy, high brightness, and low heat ensure smooth image analysis and surgical procedures.

Types of LED PCB Board

In Terms of Layers

Depending on the application requirements, LED circuit board can be divided into single-layer, double-layer, and multi-layer circuit structures. However, since most LED applications are relatively low-end and do not require complex circuit structures, single-layer and double-layer can meet most needs while maintaining cost-effectiveness. In high-demand fields such as medical and aerospace, even with higher manufacturing costs, multi-layer LED PCB are chosen due to their focus on reliability, efficiency, and equipment space utilization, rather than just cost.

In Terms of Materials

Since LED generate a lot of heat during use, metal substrates are typically used for effective heat dissipation. This helps transfer heat from the LED to the substrate and dissipate it. Among these, aluminum substrates are the most popular and common choice due to their excellent heat dissipation performance and relatively low cost.

Aluminum LED PCB with stronger heat dissipation capability

Additionally, you might encounter something called Flexible LED strip PCB. Essentially, these are interconnected circuit boards made of polyester film or foil, providing additional flexibility to achieve certain specific functions.

Flexible PCB strips for LEDs

Which One Do You Need?

When selecting an LED PCB board, it’s crucial to balance the project’s specific requirements and costs. For instance, you need to consider the power and heat generation of the LED project when choosing the layout and materials for LED components. For high-power LED projects, the density is usually higher to meet efficiency requirements, but this also generates more heat, making aluminum LED PCB an ideal choice.

For projects that require high performance and compact design, SMD (Surface Mount Device) LED might be a good option. These components are smaller and have higher brightness compared to traditional LED, making them suitable for high-density PCB layouts.

LED light PCB boards are often designed in circular or other irregular shapes to meet aesthetic needs. However, these irregular shapes may increase manufacturing costs because they exist as panels during production, leading to some waste in unused areas. Therefore, when choosing the shape and size of the PCB, it’s essential to balance aesthetics and cost.

Manufacturing LED PCB

Turning a concept into reality is no simple task, requiring a perfect design to start with. You need to organize your requirements based on your actual application, including quantity, type, power, etc., and then choose the best materials and layout design based on these needs. After completing the LED light PCB circuit diagram design, the most important step is inspection to avoid discovering design flaws after production, which could incur significant costs. You can accomplish this in design software, with most mainstream design software offering useful functions like design rule checks and electrical rule checks.

After designing, you need to compile manufacturing files for production. For commercial projects, starting with prototype manufacturing is crucial to identify functional and design accuracy, allowing you to resolve issues before they become costly.

The LED project follows the standard manufacturing and assembly processes, from substrate processing, etching, lamination, drilling, etc., to produce the LED PCB bare board, and then through SMT and THT to complete component assembly. The entire process involves multiple complex and precise steps. Therefore, it is recommended to carefully select manufacturers, understanding their hardware facilities and quality control measures before confirming cooperation is crucial. Consider factors such as whether it’s a smart factory, advanced equipment, and routine inspections like visual inspection, AOI inspection, and SPI inspection integrated into the production line. If you feel overwhelmed by this, TechSparks’ prepared “Top PCB Manufacturers in the World” might be of help.


With the increasing demand for LED, LED PCB technology is continually evolving, bringing forth new technologies and innovations, with SMD LED being a prime example. Unlike traditional through-hole LED, this technology uses a mounting method that attaches components directly to the PCB, completing the assembly process.

Advantages of SMD LED:

  • Smaller size optimizes PCB surface utilization and internal space of devices.
  • Direct soldering onto the PCB surface reduces mechanical stress, increasing durability and shock resistance.
  • The entire production process uses automated equipment, improving production efficiency and reducing errors from manual operation.

Common SMD LED Sizes:

SMD LED come in various sizes, with the most common models being 2835, 3528, 5050, and 5730. These numbers represent the size of the LED chips. For example, a 2835 SMD LED measures 2.8mm x 3.5mm. Here are some characteristics of common SMD LED sizes:

  • 2835: 2.8mm x 3.5mm, typically used in general lighting applications.
  • 3528: 3.5mm x 2.8mm, widely used for decorative lighting and backlighting.
  • 5050: 5.0mm x 5.0mm, suitable for high-brightness lighting needs, often used in LED strips.
  • 5730: 5.7mm x 3.0mm, offers higher brightness and efficiency, suitable for high-brightness lighting solutions.

By understanding and applying SMD LED PCB technology, you can achieve higher efficiency and better performance in your projects. Regardless of your needs, selecting the appropriate SMD LED model and optimized PCB design is crucial.

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