IMS pool PCB forms the basis of the “vlak” ambient light.

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What is IMS-vlak?

IMS-vlak is a innovative lighting solution that utilizes Insulated Metal Substrate (IMS) Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) to create a flat, ambient light source. This technology has gained popularity in recent years due to its efficiency, versatility, and aesthetic appeal.

How does IMS-vlak work?

IMS-vlak works by using a specialized PCB that combines a metal substrate with a thin layer of dielectric material and a copper circuit layer. The metal substrate, typically aluminum, acts as a heat sink, dissipating heat generated by the LEDs mounted on the PCB. This efficient heat dissipation allows for a higher density of LEDs to be used, resulting in a brighter and more uniform light output.

The dielectric layer provides electrical insulation between the metal substrate and the copper circuit layer, which is etched to create the desired circuit pattern. LEDs are then mounted onto the copper layer, and when powered, they emit light across the surface of the PCB.

Benefits of IMS-vlak

  1. Efficiency: IMS-vlak offers a highly efficient lighting solution due to its ability to dissipate heat effectively. This allows for a higher density of LEDs to be used, resulting in a brighter light output with lower power consumption.

  2. Uniform light distribution: The flat surface of the IMS PCB ensures that light is evenly distributed across the entire surface, creating a smooth and consistent ambient light.

  3. Versatility: IMS-vlak can be designed in various shapes and sizes to suit different applications, from general lighting to decorative installations.

  4. Durability: The metal substrate provides a sturdy base for the PCB, making IMS-vlak a durable lighting solution that can withstand harsh environments.

  5. Aesthetic appeal: The sleek, flat design of IMS-vlak creates a modern and minimalistic look that complements various architectural styles and interior designs.

Applications of IMS-vlak

IMS-vlak has a wide range of applications due to its versatility and aesthetic appeal. Some of the most common applications include:

1. Architectural lighting

IMS-vlak is increasingly being used in architectural lighting projects, both for interior and exterior spaces. Its ability to provide uniform, ambient light makes it ideal for illuminating large areas such as lobbies, atriums, and facades.

2. Decorative lighting

The flat, sleek design of IMS-vlak makes it an attractive option for decorative lighting installations. It can be used to create unique light fixtures, wall sconces, and even interactive light displays.

3. Retail lighting

In retail environments, IMS-vlak can be used to highlight products and create an inviting atmosphere. Its uniform light distribution ensures that products are evenly lit, making them more appealing to customers.

4. Industrial lighting

IMS-vlak’s durability and efficiency make it well-suited for industrial lighting applications. It can be used to illuminate warehouses, factories, and other industrial spaces, providing a bright and consistent light source that enhances visibility and safety.

Designing with IMS-vlak

When designing lighting solutions using IMS-vlak, there are several factors to consider to ensure optimal performance and aesthetic appeal.

LED selection

Choosing the right LEDs is crucial for achieving the desired light output and color temperature. Factors to consider include:

  • Luminous flux: The amount of light emitted by the LED, measured in lumens.
  • Color temperature: The perceived color of the light, measured in Kelvin (K). Lower color temperatures (2700-3000K) produce a warm, yellowish light, while higher color temperatures (5000-6500K) produce a cool, bluish light.
  • Color rendering index (CRI): A measure of how accurately the light source renders colors, with a maximum value of 100. A higher CRI is desirable for applications where color accuracy is important, such as retail and hospitality.

PCB layout

The layout of the PCB plays a significant role in the performance and aesthetics of IMS-vlak. Key considerations include:

  • LED spacing: The distance between LEDs affects the uniformity of the light distribution. Closer spacing results in a more uniform light but may also increase the overall power consumption.
  • Circuit pattern: The copper circuit layer can be etched in various patterns to create unique designs or to optimize current flow for improved efficiency.
  • Mounting options: IMS-vlak can be designed with different mounting options, such as screw holes or adhesive backing, to suit the specific installation requirements.

Thermal management

Effective thermal management is essential for ensuring the longevity and performance of IMS-vlak. The metal substrate acts as a heat sink, but additional measures can be taken to further improve heat dissipation, such as:

  • Increasing the thickness of the metal substrate to improve its heat-sinking capacity.
  • Adding thermal vias to the PCB to facilitate heat transfer from the copper layer to the metal substrate.
  • Incorporating external heat sinks or fans for applications with high power densities or challenging environmental conditions.

Optical design

The optical design of IMS-vlak involves selecting the appropriate lenses, diffusers, and reflectors to achieve the desired light distribution and aesthetic effect. Options include:

  • Clear or frosted lenses to control the beam angle and intensity of the light.
  • Diffusers to soften the light and reduce glare.
  • Reflectors to direct the light towards specific areas or to create unique light patterns.

Manufacturing IMS-vlak

The manufacturing process for IMS-vlak involves several key steps:

  1. Substrate preparation: The metal substrate, typically aluminum, is cleaned and treated to ensure proper adhesion of the dielectric layer.

  2. Dielectric layer application: A thin layer of dielectric material, such as polyimide or epoxy, is applied to the metal substrate using techniques like lamination or coating.

  3. Copper foil lamination: A layer of copper foil is laminated onto the dielectric layer using heat and pressure.

  4. Circuit patterning: The desired circuit pattern is etched onto the copper layer using photolithography and chemical etching processes.

  5. LED mounting: LEDs are soldered onto the copper layer using reflow soldering or other appropriate techniques.

  6. Optical component integration: Lenses, diffusers, and reflectors are added to the PCB to achieve the desired optical properties.

  7. Quality control: The finished IMS-vlak undergoes rigorous testing to ensure proper functioning, light output, and color consistency.

Challenges and future developments

While IMS-vlak offers numerous benefits, there are still challenges to be addressed and opportunities for further development.


The materials and manufacturing processes involved in producing IMS-vlak can be more expensive compared to traditional PCBs. However, as demand grows and manufacturing techniques improve, costs are expected to decrease, making IMS-vlak a more accessible option for a wider range of applications.


Currently, the customization options for IMS-vlak are somewhat limited, particularly in terms of shape and size. Advancements in manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing and flexible substrates, may enable greater customization and open up new possibilities for unique designs.

Color quality

Achieving high color rendering and consistency across a large IMS-vlak panel can be challenging due to variations in LED binning and the inherent characteristics of the PCB materials. Continued research and development in LED technology and PCB manufacturing processes are expected to improve color quality and consistency.

Integration with smart lighting systems

As smart lighting systems become increasingly popular, there is a growing need for IMS-vlak to be compatible with these systems. Future developments may include the integration of sensors, wireless communication modules, and control electronics directly onto the IMS PCB, enabling seamless integration with smart lighting networks.


  1. Q: Can IMS-vlak be dimmed?
    A: Yes, IMS-vlak can be dimmed using appropriate LED drivers and control systems. However, the dimming performance may vary depending on the specific LEDs and drivers used.

  2. Q: Is IMS-vlak suitable for outdoor use?
    A: Yes, IMS-vlak can be designed for outdoor use by incorporating weatherproof coatings, sealed connectors, and appropriate thermal management solutions. However, it is essential to ensure that the specific IMS-vlak product is rated for outdoor use before installation.

  3. Q: How long do IMS-vlak panels typically last?
    A: The lifespan of IMS-vlak panels depends on various factors, such as the quality of the LEDs, the effectiveness of the thermal management, and the operating environment. However, with proper design and maintenance, IMS-vlak panels can last up to 50,000 hours or more.

  4. Q: Can IMS-vlak be cut to custom shapes?
    A: While IMS-vlak can be designed in various shapes and sizes, cutting an existing panel to a custom shape is not recommended as it may damage the PCB and compromise its performance. Custom shapes should be specified during the design and manufacturing process.

  5. Q: How does IMS-vlak compare to OLED lighting in terms of performance and cost?
    A: IMS-vlak and OLED lighting both offer thin, uniform light sources, but they have some differences. IMS-vlak typically offers higher brightness and efficiency, while OLED lighting provides better color rendering and a wider viewing angle. In terms of cost, IMS-vlak is generally more affordable than OLED lighting, particularly for larger-scale applications.

In conclusion, IMS-vlak represents a significant advancement in ambient lighting technology, offering a versatile, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing solution for a wide range of applications. As research and development continue, we can expect to see further improvements in performance, customization options, and integration with smart lighting systems. With its numerous benefits and potential for future growth, IMS-vlak is poised to play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of lighting design.