Heat Sinks – Gabrian https://www.gabrian.com Gabrian site Fri, 03 Dec 2021 23:42:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.gabrian.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/cropped-image002-32x32.jpg Heat Sinks – Gabrian https://www.gabrian.com 32 32 6 Heat Sink Types: Which One is Best for Your Project? https://www.gabrian.com/6-heat-sink-types/ Sun, 02 Dec 2018 19:01:11 +0000 http://www.gabrian.com/?p=5662 The post 6 Heat Sink Types: Which One is Best for Your Project? appeared first on Gabrian.


6 Heat Sink Types: Which One is Best for Your Project?

Whether you’re designing computers, LED lighting, or other electronics, you need to think about heat sinks. Heat sinks absorb and dissipate the heat from these devices, helping to keep them cool.

Today we’ll talk about some different types of heat sinks, how they’re made, and their applications.

Generally, heat sinks are grouped by the manufacturing process used to create them, i.e. extruded, machined, etc. We will discuss 6 below. But, first, it’s important to understand that all heat sinks fall into two categories.

The Two Major Heat Sink Categories

All heat sinks can be broken down into two major categories… active and passive. What is the difference between active and passive heat sinks?

Active Heat Sinks

These generally have a fan or blower of some kind. The most common type is a ball bearing motor fan. These provide excellent performance, but they consist of moving parts and are on the expensive side.

Passive Heat Sinks

These have no mechanical components. They only use the convection process to dissipate thermal energy. Because they have no moving parts, they are more reliable. But they should still have continuous air flow across their fins.

Example of an Active Heat Sinks

Example of an Active Heat Sink

It’s also important to keep in mind that heat sinks can be made from different materials. There are two materials generally used to make heat sinks.

Heat Sink Materials: Aluminum vs. Copper

Heat sinks are usually made from aluminum or copper. Each has its own advantages. Let’s talk about the main differences between them.

Aluminum Heat Sinks

Aluminum is the most common material for heat sinks. In particular, extruded aluminum heat sinks fit the needs of most projects. The metal is lightweight and has relatively good thermal conductivity.

Copper Heat Sinks

Copper has even better thermal conductivity than aluminum. It’s drawbacks, though, are weight and cost. The metal is sometimes used where the importance of thermal conductivity outweighs weight savings.

Copper Heat Sink Fins

Copper Heat Sink Fins

When discussing the different types of heat sinks, we generally classify them based on their manufacturing process.

6 Heat Sink Types (By Manufacturing Process)

Each heat sink manufacturing process has its own advantages and drawbacks. There are a number of different ways to make heat sinks. Let’s take a look at 6 common heat sink types.

#1 – Extruded Heat Sinks

The majority of heat sinks are made from extruded aluminum. The process is useful for most applications. Extruded heat sinks come at a low cost and custom specifications can be easily manufactured. The performance of extruded heat sinks can range from low to high. Their main downside, though, is that dimensions are limited by the maximum width of extrusion. Learn more

#2 – Bonded Heat Sinks

These are normally used for applications that require large-sized heat sinks. One benefit of these is that the base material and fin material can be different. Also, a combination of aluminum and copper fins can be used instead of just one fin material. This allows you to improve thermal performance while adding a minimal amount of weight. Bonded-fin heat sinks generally offer moderate performance and come at a high cost.

#3 – Skived Heat Sinks

Heat sinks produced through this method are normally made from copper. They are produced from a solid block of metal. These heat sinks offer high design flexibility and you can achieve high fin-density. This creates more surface area and opportunity for heat dissipation. They offer medium to high performance, but their drawbacks are generally high weight and directional sensitivity.

#4 – Stamped Heat Sinks

In this process, metal fins are stamped and then soldered onto the base. These are generally used for low-power applications. The advantage of stamped heat sinks is their very low cost due to ease of production automation. However, the biggest drawback is low performance.

#5 – Forged Heat Sinks

Forged heat sinks are made by compressing aluminum or copper and have many applications. Heat sinks can be cold forged or hot forged. These offer medium performance and can be made at low cost for high volumes. However, they offer limited design capabilities.

#6 – CNC Machined Heat Sinks

These offer high thermal conductivity, and you can achieve the most complex geometries with this process. This means you have plenty of flexibility in your design. But, they come at a high cost and the production time for each piece can make them less-than-ideal for high volumes.

Choose the Right Heat Sink Type for Your Needs

Heat sinks help absorb and dissipate the heat generated by electronic devices. You need to be sure you choose the appropriate type based on your design needs and volume requirements.

Remember that sometimes active heat sinks are required for enhanced heat dissipation. But passive heat sinks with no moving parts can be used as well.

Also, when it comes to materials, aluminum offers weight and cost savings, while copper allows the highest level of thermal conductivity.

From extrusion and bonding to forging and machining, there are a number of different manufacturing options available. Each has its advantages and drawbacks.

If aluminum extrusion or CNC machining happen to fit your needs, we can help.

Learn more about our high-quality Asian manufacturing services below.

Heat Sink Extrusion Services

CNC Machining Services

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Copper vs. Aluminum Heatsinks: What You Need to Know https://www.gabrian.com/copper-vs-aluminum-heatsinks/ Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:30:39 +0000 http://www.gabrian.com/?p=5461 The post Copper vs. Aluminum Heatsinks: What You Need to Know appeared first on Gabrian.


Copper vs. Aluminum Heatsinks: What You Need to Know

Electronic devices can generate a lot of heat. So, heatsinks play an important role in helping to cool them.

You may be aware that aluminum is the most popular metal for heatsinks, but that copper is also sometimes used. You may also realize that copper has better heat conductivity.

So it’s natural to wonder, “If copper has better heat conductivity, why is aluminum so much more common?”

Let’s look at a few different factors that come into play here.

Copper vs. Aluminum Heatsinks: Let’s Compare

Take a look at the following tables. In them, you can see the three main factors that might influence the decision to use aluminum over copper for heatsinks.

Aluminum vs. Copper: Heat Conductivity

As you can see in this table, copper is more conductive than aluminum. In fact, aluminum only has 60% of the thermal conductivity that copper does. That’s one point for copper.

MetalThermal Conductivity [BTU/(hr·ft⋅°F)]

(Source: Engineer’s Edge)

Aluminum vs. Copper: Weight

If you look at the density of the two metals, you’ll notice that aluminum has only about 30% of the density of copper. That means significant weight savings. One point for aluminum!

MetalDensity - ρ - (kg/m3)

(Source: The Engineering Toolbox)

Aluminum vs. Copper: Cost

Take a look at this third table and you’ll see that aluminum is much cheaper than copper. In fact, it comes in at about one-third the cost. That is a significant cost savings. One more point for aluminum.

MetalPrice in USD per Metric Ton (20 April, 2018)

(Source: London Metals Exchange)

Aluminum is Popular for a Reason, But Copper Has Its Place

As you can see, cost and weight savings are key factors in the popularity of aluminum for heatsinks.

Copper heatsinks are available on the market. They can be used in instances where higher heat conductivity outweighs the available weight savings.

Also, significant cost savings can be had by producing heatsinks through aluminum extrusion. Most heatsinks are produced this way.

Die casting and CNC machining can achieve more complex geometries. But, extruded aluminum heatsinks can meet the needs of most projects. If you’d like to learn more about our aluminum extrusion capabilities, visit our extruded aluminum heatsinks page.

Heat Sink Extrusion Services

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Anodized Aluminum Heatsinks: What You Need to Know https://www.gabrian.com/anodized-aluminum-heatsinks-what-you-need-to-know/ Wed, 15 Aug 2018 07:59:12 +0000 http://www.gabrian.com/?p=6633 The post Anodized Aluminum Heatsinks: What You Need to Know appeared first on Gabrian.


Anodized Aluminum Heatsinks: What You Need to Know

Heat sinks play an important role in electronic and mechanical devices. They act as passive heat exchangers, transferring heat from hot components to a fluid medium (usually air).

There are different types of heat sinks. Some are made from copper and some are made from aluminum. But, most commonly, heatsinks are made through the process of aluminum extrusion. And those extruded heat sinks are also commonly anodized.

Why is this the case? What benefits does anodization offer? Let’s first talk about how anodization works and then the benefits it offers.

What is the Anodization Process?

Anodization is an electrochemical process.

Unlike painting or powder coating, there is nothing applied to the aluminum’s surface. Instead, anodization thickens the naturally-occurring oxide layer on the surface of the metal that protects it from corrosion.

How does the anodization process work?

Your extrusions are placed in an electrolytic bath. A low-voltage, high-amperage direct current passes through them.

Aluminum Being Dipped in Tanks

The oxide layer thickens and a porous surface develops. Thickening the oxide layer has its benefits.

What are the Benefits of Anodizing Heat Sinks?

There are a number of general benefits to anodizing aluminum extrusions. Some of the key benefits of anodized heat sinks are:

  1. Improved Corrosion Resistance
  2. Improved Wear Resistance
  3. Increased Electrical Isolation
  4. Improved Surface Emissivity

Corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and electrical isolation improve because of the thickness of the oxide layer.

Black Anodized Aluminum Heatsink

Black Anodized Aluminum Heatsink

Emissivity improves as a result of its microscopic texturing and increased surface area.

The unfinished surface of aluminum can be measured at an emissivity of approximately 0.05. The emissivity of an anodized aluminum surface can be measured at around 0.85.

This is a significant difference. But the improved radiation heat transfer will have a more pronounced effect (percentage-wise) on heat sinks that are smaller. It will also have less overall impact on active heat sinks (which utilize a fan).

Does Color Impact Heat Sink Performance?

Another benefit to anodizing aluminum extrusions is the ability to add colored dyes.

The porous oxide layer can be filled with dye that gets locked in and is resistant to fading.

Anodized heat sinks can be dyed in colors like blue, green, black, and so on. It is important to note, however, that the only real impact of color is a visual one. Regardless of the color, heat transfer will not be affected.

Blue Anodized Heatsink With Pins

Blue Anodized Heatsink With Pins

The main benefit of these dyes is their visual appeal.

It’s also important to note that you should never paint or powder coat heat sinks. These coatings will act as an insulator. They will negatively impact heat transfer.

Should You Choose Anodized Heat Sinks for Your Project?

Anodization improves the corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and electrical isolation of a heat sink.

It will increase surface emissivity as well. The increase in emissivity makes a more pronounced difference in small, passive heat sinks.

If your heat sink is large, the improved radiation heat transfer makes less of a difference. In an active heat sink especially, the difference will be minimal.

Active Heatsink - Blue Anodized

Active Heatsink – Blue Anodized

Another reason to anodize is to improve the appearance of the heat sink with colored dyes. This can be useful for marketing purposes.

You should weigh the costs of anodizing vs. the benefits it offers. And remember to never paint or powder coat your heat sinks.

Heat Sink Extrusion Services

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Which Aluminum Alloys are Best for Extruded Heat Sinks? https://www.gabrian.com/which-aluminum-alloys-are-best-for-extruded-heat-sinks/ Sun, 08 Jul 2018 03:42:55 +0000 http://www.gabrian.com/?p=6051 The post Which Aluminum Alloys are Best for Extruded Heat Sinks? appeared first on Gabrian.


Which Aluminum Alloys are Best for Extruded Heat Sinks?

Heat sinks are used in CPUs and graphics processors. They’re found in everything from lighting equipment to automotive equipment.

When you’re designing a heat sink, there are compromises you need to make.

You need to find the right balance between factors that affect performance. Keep in mind that performance can be affected by things like:

  • The material used
  • Protrusion design
  • Air velocity, and
  • Surface treatment.

When it comes to material choice, aluminum is the most common. It’s also worth noting that the most common manufacturing process for heat sinks is extrusion.

Let’s talk about why you might choose aluminum over copper (another common choice). And then we’ll talk about the most appropriate alloys you might choose from.

Why Use Aluminum Instead of Copper?

We’ve talked before about the benefits of both aluminum and copper in heat sinks.

It’s important to note that copper has higher thermal conductivity levels. In fact, copper’s thermal conductivity is about 60% higher than that of aluminum.

However, aluminum is versatile, lightweight, and low-cost. And it’s thermal conductivity is still good. This ends up making it suitable for most applications.

There are different types of aluminum heat sinks. But, extrusion is the most popular manufacturing process.

Aluminum Heat Sink Fins Pointing Left

Aluminum Heat Sink Fins

Heat sinks can be extruded in high volumes at a relatively low cost. If you’re designing extruded heat sinks, you may wonder which alloy you should choose for your extrusions.

Which Aluminum Alloy Should You Use for Your Heat Sinks?

If your first thought is to find the alloy with the highest thermal conductivity, think again.

For example, 1050 aluminum offers a thermal conductivity value of 229 W/m•K. However, this alloy is mechanically too soft for heat sinks.

You should generally look at the 6000 series alloys for heat sinks. These alloys are widely available, are fairly strong, and tend to extrude well. The following chart shows a comparison.

AlloyThermal Conductivity Values (W/m•K)

Alloys like 6061 and 6063 are some of the most common in the 6000 series. They are common for extrusion in general. And either one will actually work quite well for heat sinks.

Making the Right Choices for Your Project

Whichever alloy you choose, remember that there is more to heat dispersal than alloy choice.

The difference in thermal conductivity between 6000 series alloys is relatively minimal. So, maximizing the surface area of the heat sink and optimizing airflow over it are key to enhancing performance.

In your design, be sure the heat sink conforms as tightly as possible to the hot component and leaves the smallest possible gap. This will help ensure the success of your project.

Heat Sink Extrusion Services

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