Key Takeaways

  • Copper’s high electrical conductivity ensures efficient current flow in PCBs.

  • Its ductility allows for intricate patterning and flexibility in PCB design.

  • Copper’s thermal conductivity enables effective heat dissipation from electronic components.

  • Its corrosion resistance protects PCBs from environmental degradation and prolongs their lifespan.

  • Copper’s solderability facilitates reliable connections between components and traces on PCBs.

  • Its availability and cost-effectiveness make copper an ideal choice for large-scale PCB manufacturing.

Why PCBs Use Copper

Copper is the predominant material used in printed circuit boards (PCBs) due to its exceptional electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. Its unique characteristics enable PCBs to function as efficient and reliable conductors of electrical signals and power.

Electrical Conductivity

Copper’s electrical conductivity is an essential property for PCBs. It ensures that electrical current can flow through the traces and components on the board with minimal resistance. High conductivity minimizes power loss and maintains signal integrity, which is crucial for reliable circuit operation.

  • Copper’s electrical conductivity is approximately 59.6 x 10^6 siemens per meter (S/m).


Copper’s ductility, or ability to be drawn into thin wires without breaking, is a significant advantage in PCB fabrication. It allows for the creation of intricate patterns and fine traces on the board’s surface. This flexibility enables designers to optimize the conductivity and layout of the circuit while minimizing space requirements.

  • Advanced PCB manufacturing techniques, such as high-density interconnect (HDI) and multilayer PCBs, rely on the ductility of copper for precise patterning.

Thermal Conductivity

Thermal conductivity refers to a material’s ability to transfer heat. Copper’s high thermal conductivity efficiently dissipates heat generated by electronic components on the PCB. This prevents overheating, which can degrade components and shorten the lifespan of the PCB.

  • Copper’s thermal conductivity is approximately 401 W/mK at 20°C.

Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion is a major concern for electronic devices, as it can impair connectivity and reliability. Copper’s inherent corrosion resistance makes it an ideal choice for PCBs. It effectively withstands environmental factors such as moisture, temperature fluctuations, and acidic or alkaline substances. This ensures the long-term performance and durability of PCBs.

  • Copper’s corrosion resistance is enhanced by protective coatings, such as solder mask and conformal coatings, which further extend the lifespan of the PCB.


Solderability refers to the ability of a material to form strong and reliable solder joints. Copper’s excellent solderability facilitates the secure attachment of components and other conductive elements to the PCB. This ensures electrical connectivity and mechanical stability.

  • Copper’s solderability is due to its low melting point, which allows it to readily form bonds with solder.

Availability and Cost-Effectiveness

Copper is widely available and relatively inexpensive compared to other conductive materials. This makes it a cost-effective choice for large-scale PCB manufacturing. The abundance and affordability of copper contribute to the widespread adoption of PCBs in various electronic applications.

  • The global copper market is projected to grow to over 30 million tons by 2024.

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