The demand for effective thermal management solutions in electronic equipment is on the rise as a result of rapid technological progress. These solutions aim to ensure that system devices operate at an acceptable temperature level to reduce the risk of damage and ensure the longevity of components. The traditional method of dealing with this problem was to attach an external heatsink to the component that generated the excess heat. However, with miniaturization leading to ever-smaller and denser products, there is a need to come up with new thermal management solutions.
Heat energy is produced when electrical current is not transferred correctly and so needs to be managed in order to prevent system damage. Consequently, dissipating the excess heat inside or outside the circuit boards is the preferred method to move heat away from components. This is often done in combination with active solutions such as external heatsink ventilation or liquid cooling.
CHALLENGES FACING ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS
Current challenges facing electronic engineering include how to quickly dissipate heat efficiently in miniature electronics and to decrease the thermal resistance of the board itself. Thermal interface materials like thermal compounds are key at small sizes since they increase the thermal conductivity of the component and reduce the thermal resistance of the board to the ambient environment.
Thermal Management Solutions
Another important factor in the development of effective thermal management solutions is the design of the printed circuit board itself. It’s crucial not only to be aware of the different applications methods and thermal management basics (3D heat dissipation, air=evil, thermal conductivity & diffusivity values, etc.) but also, to analyze and replace every single element that it’s negatively contributing to the global thermal management challenge.
And plastics are one the best thermally insulating materials & commonly used in power electronics. For that reason, Coolmag we have developed, a brand new PA6 based flame retardant thermoplastic compound: CoolmagPlast.
Thermal Conductive Designs
The COOLMAGPLAST combines thermal conductivity and electrical insulation in standard pellet form suitable for thermoplastic injection molding and other processes (e.g., extrusion), allowing design freedom in applications previously restricted to common plastics and even metals, like coil bobbins, battery packs or electronic enclosures.
COOLMAGPLAST is lightweight, net-shape moldable and allows design freedom in applications previously restricted to metals and ceramics and has a quadruple functionality:
- Heat Transfer, reduction of hot spots and minimizing the average temperature of systems.
- Electric Isolation
- Mechanical protection.
- Flame and fire protection
Measuring Thermal Conductivity
Understanding thermal conductivity is crucial for the conductive designs used in optimizing thermal management. High thermal conductivity means that heat will be transferred more rapidly, allowing sensitive electronics to cool faster.
While there are many ways to measure thermal conductivity, it is critical that the sample is being measured at representative conditions. Since thermal conductivity is dependent on factors such as temperature, pressure, and humidity, it must be measured at the same conditions it will experience in end use. For more information on thermal conductivity measurement, method selection, and the importance of representative measurement, read this blog on What is Thermal Conductivity? How is it Measured?.