April 8, 2021

What to Look for in a High-Quality Electronic Heat Sink Design

One of the most daunting challenges an electronics engineer faces is how to handle excess heat for electronic devices. The heat generated by the speed of computations of today’s electronic devices is considerable and must be managed using heat sinks. But what makes a high-quality heat sink for electronics?

Careful Measurement of the Heat to Be Managed

Accurate measurement of the waste heat generated by the electronic device’s computations is essential before making any other decisions about the heat sink design used for thermal management. An excellent team of thermal solution engineers should measure this precisely and make design suggestions for the device based on these measurements.

Damaged computer components and motherboard as the result of a poor heat sink design

Select the Heat Management Approach

Once you know the amount of waste heat that an electronic device generates, you can then begin looking at thermal management solutions that can dissipate that heat. But this approach will depend on several factors such as

  • Noise– If your electronic device needs to be quiet, your solution will need to use a passive heat radiation or convection process to manage waste heat. If the amount of heat the electronic device generates is considerable, you may need an active heat sink that uses a fan to help manage the excess heat. And fans make noise.
  • Weight – For some electronics such as cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers, weight is an essential factor that must be considered when selecting a high-quality heat sink design. Copper is two times more efficient than aluminum when it comes to transferring heat but weighs three times as much as an equivalent amount of aluminum.
  • Cost—As of March 2021, the price of copper is $4.08 per pound, and aluminum is (on average) $0.41 per pound. So copper costs about ten times as much as an equivalent amount of aluminum. If you need to keep production cost or final pricing low to be competitive, you’ll need to make tough decisions about whether copper or aluminum is the best choice for the heat sink design for your electronic device.

What Happens if Waste Heat Is Not Managed Properly?

If you are lucky, the electronic device uses some sort of breaker to prevent the components from getting overheated and shuts down the device. While this is inconvenient for the device’s users, it beats the alternative. Melting the area around the heat sink, damaging the surrounding components, and possibly starting a fire.

Getec Industrial Delivers High-Quality Heat Sinks for Electronic Devices

Getec has provided heat sink designs for industries such as consumer electronics, aviation, communications, LED lighting, medical equipment, and much more for over 30 years now. To learn more, call us at 888-999-8499, contact us online, or send us an email to sales@getecna.com to get in touch with a Getec heat sink design specialist.