Category Archives: heat sink clip

Blow Torch, ATS Heat Sink Attachments

This video shows a flame test of the ATS heat sink clips superGRIP and maxiGRIP. These are used in the ATS clipKIT. It shows that the clips do not ignite, a key requirement in Telecomm applications and for general safety.

For more on ATS’s clipKITS, visit

ATS maxiGRIP and superGRIP Heat Sink Attachments

Advanced Thermal Solutions John O’Day and Len Alter showcase the patented heat sink attachments maxiGRIP and superGRIP. With its patented and discrete design, these heat sink attachments are well worth it for being your only choice for a cost-effective, high performing thermal solution.

Getting the Maximum Performance from Heat Sink Clips

As power levels for board components have risen, thermal engineers have been forced to design larger and more innovative heat sinks than ever before. Along with the thermal challenge has come the mechanical challenge of attaching these heat sinks to the components in a reliable fashion.

One of the most popular methods uses some form of clip. These are low in price and easily applied. Smart engineering has led to clip systems that provide strong, even pressure well beyond the working life of the component. They hold their heat sinks tight even when dropped or shocked, but they can be unclipped manually whenever it’s necessary.

Clips that attach directly to the component provide an advantage over other clip types, (e.g. z-clips) in that no holes are required in the PWB. The ATS maxiGRIP is an example of such an attachment. maxiGRIP uses a plastic frame clip that attaches directly to the component and provides a mounting platform for a custom spring clip (Figure 5).

The frame clip is installed, using a special tool which expands all four sides of the clip simultaneously, allowing the clip to be placed directly over the component package (A keep out area is usually required). Once released, tabs on each side engage and secure the clip to the component, creating a secure mounting platform for the spring clip. The spring clip, which is designed to provide a very precise load, is then installed to hold the heat sink in place, maintaining continuous pressure at the heat sink component interface. The maxiGRIP assembly has a big advantage over other heat sink attachment methods in that it allows for the use of high performance phase change interface materials.

Extensive FEA and shock and vibration testing of the maxiGRIP assembly have been done to provide a carefully engineered heat sink attachment solution with a high-level of reliability.

How to Select a Heat Sink: Why Thermal Management is a Challenge

Today we are kicking off a series of articles on how to select a heat sink for an OEM project. The principles are the same for overclockers building their own systems with one difference. In OEM projects, mechanical engineers usually (but not always) have a chance to simulate the design before hand and suggest changes to chassis and layout to help with airflow.

So, let’s get started with some basics. First, why is thermal management a challenge? There’s a few reasons and many of these are only getting worse if you consider them from the world of thermal engineering.

First on our list is higher frequency circuits. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors notes that, “projected power density and junction-to-ambient thermal resistance for high-performance chips at the 14 nm generation are >100 W/cm2 and <0.2°C/W, respectively.” In other words, semiconductors are simply getting hotter as their clock speeds are increased.

Second, generally, semiconductors are being assembled into smaller packages. The packages are smaller, the circuits are denser and this combination means that they are warmer.

Third on our list of why thermal management is a (growing) challenge is low acoustic noise requirements. End users don’t want to be deaf just for using electronics. The result is many specifications that set a reasonable acoustic range for their equipment, often in the 100LFM to 400LFM range. This relatively low airflow is great for end users but creates a real challenge for mechanical engineers and systems integrators trying to create a solid system that meets end users needs and still operates at its optimal levels.

Fourth, circuit designers determine component placement. On the surface of this, this is how it should be. Electrical engineers have alot of pressure on them to reduce board latency and design for performance. While they often consider the thermal needs of the systems and circuits, it’s not their primary design point. For mechanical engineers that is what we do and so our challenge is the balancing act of working with EE’s to insure great placement, but also great airflow.

Fifth and finally, thermal management is a challenge because EMI shielding. Higher frequency components require better shielding and that shielding can restrict airflow.

When we pick this topic up next, we’ll cover why temperature is so important to manage. If you have any questions in the mean time about heat sinks or thermal management, contact us and lets see how can make your next project a success! Email us at ATS thermal , call us at 781-769-2800 or visit our heat sink catalog at


ATS noted in Wikipedia under “Heat Sink” for our clip technology

A reader of our blog wanted us to know that ATS is cited in Wikipedia in their heat sink entry, under heat sink clips. We’re noted for our innovative maxiGRIP Heat Sink Clip.

What makes maxiGRIP so special that we’d get noted?  Well a few things including:

  • maxiGRIP, when used with a heat sink, makes it possible to put to best use thermally efficient phase change thermal interface material.
  • maxiGRIP uses a stainless steel heat sink clip, resulting in a bond that withstands MIL-STD Shock and Vibe levels
  • with maxiGRIP you do not need ANY holes in your PCB, creating more usable space for traces

There’s more to the story, and our friends at Digikey have posted up one of our presentations to give you all the details, you can see it by clicking over to, “maxiGRIP Heat Sink Clip at Digikey”  You may also purchase maxiGRIP products at Digikey.