Heat sinks are passive parts frequently employed in electrical equipment to disperse extra heat produced by electronic components. The primary purpose of an extruded heat sink is to dissipate the heat from an electronic component into the surrounding air, keeping the temperature of the component within a limit that is safe for performance.
With high-performance electronic devices, where a lot of heat is produced because of the powerful processing, heat sinks are very useful. Extruded heat sinks are also required in electrical machines in the circuit where large currents are present and heat is produced by power loss, such as in power sources and motor controllers.
A substance with high heat conductivity, mostly aluminum or copper, is generally used to build heat sinks, and to transfer heat from the circuit to the heat sink. No doubt that copper has more heat conductivity, but the most common material used in extruded heat sinks are aluminum.
So here we will take a look at some factors that explain why aluminum is preferred over other materials.
Because of its excellent thermal conductivity, lightweight, and cheap prices, aluminum is a commonly used material for heat sinks. The aluminum metal alloy is forced through a die to form a particular shape to construct an aluminum extrusion heat sink.
Some factors that make aluminum popular for use in heat sinks are:
- Due to its lightweight, aluminum is a great material for portable electronic gadgets like laptops and smartphones and other applications where weight is an issue.
- Natural oxide coating on aluminum offers great corrosion resistance. This layer defends aluminum from elements that can corrode other metals, such as moisture and humidity.
- Aluminum is an environmentally favorable material for heat sink applications since it is largely recyclable. Recycling aluminum can help cut down on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions because it uses less energy than generating new aluminum.
- Because it is a soft metal, aluminum is easy to process and mold into various designs. This gives more design flexibility to heat sink applications.
- A wide variety of additional materials, such as coatings, and thermal interface materials, are compatible with aluminum. Aluminum extrusion heat sink integration into current designs and systems is made simple by this.
Heat sinks sometimes use copper as their material. Out of all the metals, copper has the highest heat conductivity. Having corrosion resistance and a high melting point, copper is a strengthened, long-lasting substance. Compared to other heat sink materials, copper is usually more expensive.
Copper is also a useful material used for heat sink applications and has its properties. Here are some of the pros of using copper as a heat sink material:
- As copper has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal, it is a great choice for applications involving heat transmission. This means that heat can easily be transported from the heat source to the environment around it.
- Because of its strength and durability, copper is a good choice for applications involving high temperatures or physical pressures. To maintain long-term thermal performance, copper heat sinks are less prone to warp or bend over time.
- Copper is ideal for usage in cases involving large temperatures due to its high melting point. Copper heat sinks are therefore able to resist high temperatures without losing their heating value.
- In some applications, copper’s attractive and unique appearance may be a desirable quality. Copper heat sinks can be polished or painted to improve their appearance or left in their natural state.
Both copper and aluminum have benefits and drawbacks when used as heat sinks. The specific requirements of the application, along with factors like budget, weight, thermal properties, and manufacturing restrictions, will determine whether aluminum or copper should be used as the heat sink material.