What Is Copper Clad Laminate CCL

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Introduction to Copper Clad Laminate (CCL)

Copper Clad Laminate (CCL) is a fundamental material used in the production of printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). It consists of a thin layer of copper foil bonded to a dielectric substrate, typically made from glass epoxy or composite materials. The copper layer serves as the conductive pathway for electrical signals, while the dielectric substrate provides insulation and structural support. CCL plays a crucial role in the electronics industry, enabling the fabrication of PCBs for various applications, including consumer electronics, telecommunications, automotive, and aerospace.

Composition of Copper Clad Laminate

Copper Foil

The copper foil used in CCL is typically made from high-purity, electrodeposited copper. The thickness of the copper foil can vary depending on the specific application and the desired electrical properties of the PCB. Common copper foil thicknesses include:

Thickness (oz/ft²) Thickness (μm)
0.5 oz/ft² 17 μm
1 oz/ft² 35 μm
2 oz/ft² 70 μm
3 oz/ft² 105 μm

The copper foil is treated with a surface finish to enhance adhesion to the dielectric substrate and to protect the copper from oxidation. Common surface finishes include:

  • Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG)
  • Organic solderability preservative (OSP)
  • Hot air solder leveling (HASL)
  • Immersion tin
  • Immersion silver

Dielectric Substrate

The dielectric substrate in CCL provides electrical insulation and mechanical support for the copper foil. The most common dielectric materials used in CCL are:

  1. FR-4: A glass-reinforced epoxy laminate, widely used due to its excellent mechanical and electrical properties, as well as its cost-effectiveness.
  2. High Tg FR-4: A variant of FR-4 with improved thermal stability, suitable for high-temperature applications.
  3. Polyimide: A high-performance polymer with excellent thermal and chemical resistance, used in demanding applications such as aerospace and military.
  4. PTFE: Polytetrafluoroethylene, known for its low dielectric constant and low dissipation factor, is used in high-frequency applications.

The dielectric substrate is available in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 0.2 mm to 3.2 mm, depending on the specific application requirements.

Manufacturing Process of Copper Clad Laminate

The manufacturing process of CCL involves several steps to ensure a high-quality, reliable product:

  1. Preparation of the dielectric substrate: The dielectric material is cut to the desired size and shape, and any necessary pre-treatment is performed to enhance adhesion to the copper foil.

  2. Copper foil preparation: The copper foil is cleaned and treated with a surface finish to improve adhesion and protect against oxidation.

  3. Lamination: The prepared copper foil is placed on top of the dielectric substrate, and the assembly is subjected to high temperature and pressure in a lamination press. This process bonds the copper foil to the dielectric substrate, creating a solid, unified material.

  4. Cooling and inspection: After lamination, the CCL is cooled and inspected for any defects, such as delamination, blistering, or impurities.

  5. Cutting and packaging: The CCL is cut to the desired size and shape, and then packaged for shipping to PCB manufacturers.

Properties of Copper Clad Laminate

The properties of CCL are essential for ensuring the proper functioning and reliability of PCBs. Some key properties include:

  1. Dielectric constant (Dk): The dielectric constant is a measure of the material’s ability to store electrical energy. A lower Dk value is desirable for high-frequency applications, as it reduces signal propagation delay and minimizes signal loss.

  2. Dissipation factor (Df): The dissipation factor is a measure of the material’s tendency to absorb electrical energy and convert it into heat. A lower Df value is preferred, as it minimizes signal loss and improves the overall efficiency of the PCB.

  3. Thermal expansion: The coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) should be closely matched between the copper foil and the dielectric substrate to minimize stress and warping during temperature fluctuations.

  4. Thermal conductivity: A higher thermal conductivity helps dissipate heat generated by electronic components, improving the overall thermal management of the PCB.

  5. Peel strength: The peel strength is a measure of the adhesion between the copper foil and the dielectric substrate. A higher peel strength ensures that the copper foil remains securely bonded to the substrate, even under stress or environmental factors.

Applications of Copper Clad Laminate

CCL is used in a wide range of industries and applications, including:

  1. Consumer electronics: CCL is used to manufacture PCBs for smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other consumer electronic devices.

  2. Telecommunications: PCBs made from CCL are essential components in telecommunications equipment, such as routers, switches, and base stations.

  3. Automotive: The automotive industry relies on CCL for the production of PCBs used in various vehicle systems, including engine control units, infotainment systems, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

  4. Aerospace and defense: High-performance CCL materials, such as polyimide and PTFE, are used in the production of PCBs for aerospace and defense applications, where reliability and durability under extreme conditions are critical.

  5. Medical devices: CCL is used in the manufacturing of PCBs for medical devices, such as diagnostic equipment, patient monitoring systems, and implantable devices.

  6. Industrial automation: PCBs made from CCL are used in industrial automation systems, including process control, robotics, and machine vision.

Future Trends in Copper Clad Laminate

As technology advances and the demand for high-performance electronics grows, the CCL industry is constantly evolving to meet new challenges. Some of the future trends in CCL include:

  1. High-frequency materials: The development of advanced CCL materials with lower dielectric constants and dissipation factors to support the growing demand for high-frequency applications, such as 5G networks and millimeter-wave radar.

  2. Embedded components: The integration of passive components, such as resistors and capacitors, directly into the CCL substrate, enabling the production of more compact and efficient PCBs.

  3. Eco-friendly materials: The development of environmentally friendly CCL materials, such as halogen-free and lead-free laminates, to address the growing concerns over the environmental impact of electronic waste.

  4. Flexible and stretchable laminates: The development of flexible and stretchable CCL materials to support the growing demand for flexible and wearable electronics.

  5. 3D printing: The use of 3D printing technology to create custom CCL structures and shapes, enabling the production of complex, high-density PCBs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the difference between CCL and PCB?
    CCL is the raw material used to manufacture PCBs. It consists of a copper foil bonded to a dielectric substrate, while a PCB is the final product that includes etched copper traces, Solder mask, and other components.

  2. How do I choose the right CCL for my application?
    The choice of CCL depends on several factors, including the desired electrical properties, thermal requirements, and environmental conditions. Consult with a CCL manufacturer or PCB designer to select the most suitable material for your specific application.

  3. Can CCL be recycled?
    Yes, CCL can be recycled. The copper foil can be separated from the dielectric substrate and recycled, while the substrate can be ground down and used as a filler material in other products.

  4. What is the shelf life of CCL?
    The shelf life of CCL depends on the specific material and storage conditions. Most CCL materials have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months when stored in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight.

  5. How do I store CCL to mAXImize its shelf life?
    To maximize the shelf life of CCL, store it in a cool, dry environment with a temperature between 10°C and 30°C and a relative humidity below 50%. Keep the CCL away from direct sunlight and sources of heat or moisture.


Copper Clad Laminate (CCL) is a vital material in the production of printed circuit boards, serving as the foundation for the electronic devices and systems that power our modern world. By understanding the composition, manufacturing process, properties, and applications of CCL, engineers and designers can make informed decisions when selecting materials for their projects. As technology continues to advance, the CCL industry will play a crucial role in enabling the development of new, innovative electronic solutions.