July 8, 2020

Heat Management Principles for Heat Sink Design

All copper and aluminum heat sink designs follow these simple principles when looking for a heat management solution.

Heat transfer for electronics

Conduction for Heat Sink Design

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of conduction is:

the transfer of heat between two parts of a stationary system, caused by a temperature difference between the parts.

In the terms of a heat sink design, a good example of a conduction-based heat sink design is any design that uses heat pipe technology. The heat sink absorbs heat from the processor unit which is then conducted away from the processor through the heat pipe itself. Away from the processor, the heat dissipates and the heat sink is ready to manage more heat until the circuit reaches equilibrium.

Convection for Heat Sink Design

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of convection is:

the transfer of heat by the circulation or movement of the heated parts of a liquid or gas.

This is what is happening at the top of a heat sink with long fins. The air surrounding the fins heats up as the metal of the fins conduct the heat upwards. The heated air then rises and is replaced by the cooler air being pushed downward.

Radiation for Heat Sink Design

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of radiation is:

the complete process in which energy is emitted by one body, transmitted through an intervening medium or space, and absorbed by another body.

Radiation is how the heat sink transfers the heat within the system. For example, a high-power processor creates heat, which is absorbed by the heat sink. The heat sink emits the heat, either through a heat pipe or the air itself. The more surface area your heat sink has, the better it will be at radiating heat.

Active vs. Passive Heat Sink Designs

Active heat sink designs, such as those that incorporate a fan in the heat sink itself, manage heat far more efficiently than a passive heat sink design. Passive heat sink designs must rely on the slower process of conduction and convection happening among the fins of the heat sink. It works the same as an active heat sink, but the presence of the fan moves the heat away a lot faster. Active heat sink designs are not always popular though. Some electronic products don’t want to have the extra weight that an active heat sink’s fan produces or the noise that the fan generates.

Get World-Class Heat Sink Design at Getec Industrial

Our heat sink designs are world-class, and we use these heat transfer in electronics principles in every heat sink design we produce. Give us a call at 888-999-8499, contact us online, or send us an email at sales@getecna.com to speak to one of our advanced thermal solutions experts today.