Tag Archives: PCB

Picking the Right Heat Sink Attachment to Avoid Costly PCB Damage

The design of a printed circuit board (PCB) is a complicated process that requires engineers to consider a number of different issues before the board is ready to move beyond prototype and into production. Engineers must think about the physical constraints of a board on component size and placement, the electrical interaction between components, the signal loss through wires and traces, and the thermal management of each component and the system as a whole. [1]

Heat Sink Attachment

ATS maxiFLOW heat sink with superGRIP attachment on a PCB. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

With all of that to consider, it is no wonder that many designs go through several iterations before moving into the production stage. Since the process is already complex and there is a certain amount of trial-and-error in designing a PCB, engineers will look for ways to avoid unnecessary rework that will add significant cost to the project in terms of both time and money.

As noted in a previous article, the type of heat sink attachment technology that an engineer chooses will impact the ease with which a design can be reworked and the amount of damage to the board that will be caused if a change needs to be made.

Push pins, threaded standoffs and z-clips require holes or anchors be drilled into a board, which leaves permanent damage if a component needs to be moved to a new location and could also impact signal routing. There is even the possibility of a short in installation, which also would damage the board. [2]

Non-mechanical attachments such as thermally conductive tape and epoxy are not guaranteed to provide the optimal thermal management because there is “risk of die damage and poor thermal performance due to uneven heat sink placement,” according to a case study from the Altera Corporation. [3]

The case study also said that thermal tape and epoxy have “high risk of damaging the device or PCB” when compared to mechanical attachment technology coupled with thermal interface material (TIM) or phase change material (PCM). In fact, to remove a heat sink attached with epoxy requires an even temperature of 115-120°C.

As the video below shows, removing thermal tape from a heat sink (even one that is not attached to a board) requires a lot of work and tools. If the heat sink is attached to a component, the process to remove it could damage the board or other devices in the vicinity:

A recent chart from NEMI (National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative) indicated that the cost of assembly can be very high per I/O (input/output) on the PCB – considering some of the new BGAs have hundreds of I/O and there are dozens of BGAs on the board, the cost can be prohibitively expensive to put together a board irrespective of the product sector. [4] Obviously, full reworks necessitated by the use of damaging heat sink attachments raise those costs exponentially.

Heat Sink Attachment

Board assembly roadmap from NEMI showing the conversion costs by product sector. [4]

Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) has created a mechanical attachment technology that makes rework easy and allows engineers to make changes to the design without damaging the PCB or the components. superGRIP™ is a two-part attachment system with a plastic frame clip that fastens around the edge of the component and a metal spring clip that fits between the fins of the heat sink and quickly and easily attaches to the frame.

As the video below demonstrates, superGRIP™ can be installed and removed with common household tools and will provide a steady, firm pressure to ensure optimal thermal performance of the heat sink and the reliability of the device:

The advantage of superGRIP™ is not limited to its ease of use and the time and money that will be saved in reworking a PCB design. The pressure strength and security of the superGRIP™ attachment system allows the use of high-performance phase change materials that can improve heat transfer by as much as 20 times over standard thermal tapes. [4]

superGRIP™ comes with Chomerics Thermflow T-766, a foil PCM with a thickness of 0.0035 millimeters that has an operating range of -55°C to 125°C. According to Chomerics, the T-766 and other traditional non-silicone thermal interface pads “completely fill interfacial air gaps and voids. They also displace entrapped air between power dissipating electronic components. Phase-change materials are designed to maximize heat sink performance and improve component reliability.” [5]

Chomerics added, “Upon reaching the required melt temperature, the pad will fully change phase and attain minimum bond-line thickness (MBLT) – less than 0.001 inch or 0.0254 mm, and maximum surface wetting. This results in practically no thermal contact resistance due to a very small thermal resistance path.”

The combination of frame and spring clip provides uniform force over the heat sink and ensures no movement to optimize the impact of the PCM, while not damaging the solder holding the BGA component in place on the board. ATS engineers designed the attachment technology so that the in-plane and normal forces of both the frame and the spring clip hold the heat sink without stressing the solder even through NEBS (Network Equipment Building Systems) shock and vibration testing. [6]

Save time, save money, and avoid unnecessary headaches during the design phase by using ATS superGRIP™ technology.

[1] http://www.electronicdesign.com/boards/11-myths-about-pcb-layout
[2] “How the maxiGRIP™ attachment system impacts component mechanical behavior,” Qpedia Thermal eMagazine], May 2008.
[3] https://www.altera.com/content/dam/altera-www/global/en_US/pdfs/literature/an/an657.pdf
[4] http://thor.inemi.org/webdownload/newsroom/Articles/CA0599.pdf
[5] https://www.qats.com/cpanel/UploadedPdf/ATS_superGRIP_Launch_Release_

[6] http://vendor.parker.com/852568C80043FA7A/468ea5de5ac341d385257d39005641c7/

[7] “How the maxiGRIP™ attachment system impacts component mechanical behavior,” Qpedia Thermal eMagazine, May 2008.

For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) thermal management consulting and design services, visit www.qats.com or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.

Choosing the Right Heat Sink Attachment for Densely Populated PCB

In 1965, Fairchild Semiconductor Director of R&D and soon to be Intel co-founder Gordon Moore wrote “The Future of Integrated Electronics,” which was intended as an internal paper to define the most cost-effective number of components per integrated circuit. As he looked ahead to the next decade, Moore argued that the number of components per chip would double every year.

The paper was edited and published by Electronics in 1965 as “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits”. Ten years later, Moore, then with Intel, spoke at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting and showed that his initial prediction was correct and estimated that the rate of increase would slow to “a doubling every two years, rather than one.”

Heat Sink Attachment

superGRIP heat sink attachment technology offer minimal addition to component footprint on densely packed PCB. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

This prediction has now become widely known as Moore’s law. It has become a tenet of the electronics community and continues to propel the industry forward at a time when the number of transistors on a chip (which was around 65,000 in 1975) now exceeds one billion. [1]

These high-powered components are common on printed circuit boards (PCB) in every day electronics from mobile devices to computers to automobiles. Recently, the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA) announced that it will spend $200 million on the Electronics Resurgence Initiative to seek new materials and manufacturing techniques in expectation that Moore’s law will come to a natural end. [2]

Not only are the components themselves getting higher-powered, but increased demand for functionality in ever-smaller packages has meant that these components are increasingly being squeezed into tighter areas. A 2012 article on Tech Design Forums, based on information from Mentor Graphics’ Technology Leadership Awards, indicated that while PCB size had been “relatively constant,” the “average number of components has quadrupled in 15 years.” [3]

As the forum noted, “Despite attempts by IC (integrated circuit) suppliers to cut power dissipation, as IC speeds and densities increase so does the heat they dissipate. And putting these ICs into smaller and smaller form factors compounds the problem. This causes significant thermal management challenges that must be met at the IC package, PCB and system levels.”

OCM Manufacturing, a low- to mid-volume manufacturer of electronics products, offered a chart that detailed standard spacing of components on a PCB, but also added, “With that said, there are no hard and fast rules for component spacing. Tightly packed components may have very good yield and problems may arise only during rework.” [4]

Heat Sink Attachment

Match each component in the rows with whatever it’s adjacent to in the columns to see the preferred and minimum spacing between those two components, in millimeters. [4] (OCM Manufacturing)

Of course, all of that power will inevitably lead to increased heat across the system. Coupled with the decrease in space between components, which puts constraints on the amount of airflow across a component and leads to heat from one chip being passed on to the next, thermal management is a critical aspect of PCB design to an even greater extent than before. [5]

Heat sinks remain the most cost-effective method for cooling chips. The benefits of heat sinks, the thermal impact of different materials, and the development of new fin geometries are all discussed in depth elsewhere on this blog, but this article asks, “What is the best way to attach heat sinks, especially in a component-dense environment?”

As Dr. Kaveh Azar, founder and CEO of Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS), wrote in ECN Magazine, “An engineer starting the process of thermal management must first determine the cooling needed and then consider the mechanical aspects of attaching the heat sink.” [6]

He added, “The thermal consideration is foremost on our decision tree. Once we have resolved the cooling issue, including the heat sink size and the type of thermal interface material (TIM) needed, we need to ask the question of how this heat sink will be attached to the device or the PCB.”

There are several options for design engineers to consider, but each comes with its own set of challenges. Thermal tape and thermal epoxies [7] would obviously add nothing to the existing component footprint, but tape has proven better for low-powered chips and epoxies require time to cure and are essentially permanent, making potential rework more time-consuming and costly.

Push pins, threaded standoffs and z-clips are mechanical attachment technologies that are common in the electronics industry but all require expanded footprints as well as holes or anchors in the PCB, which may not be available on high-density boards. Holes and anchors also make signal routing more difficult in the design phase and there is a possibility of a standoff or solder anchor causing a short during installation that could result in damage to the board. [8]

To meet this need, ATS developed superGRIP™. The two-part attachment system features a plastic frame clip that fastens securely around the perimeter of the component and a metal spring clip that slips through the fins of a heat sink and locks to the frame clip on both ends. [9]

The system is designed to need minimal space around the component. [10] The frame clip is made of a plastic resin that allows it to be very thin but also very strong, which was demonstrated during shock and vibration testing. The interior frame profile locks securely around the bottom edge and sides of the component package. The horseshoe tabs secure the clip to ensure the proper pressure on the heat sink.

The following chart shows the superGRIP™ clearance guidelines, although custom options are available and may be needed depending on the design:


The required board keep-out region for ATS superGRIP heat sink attachment technology. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

superGRIP™ was also designed and tested to ensure maximum airflow through the heat sink. In a tightly-packed system where airflow is at a premium, superGRIP™ provides the necessary attachment security with only minimal impact on the flow. In addition, the plastic used in the frame clip stays cool in high-heat environments, rather than adding fuel to a potentially combustible situation.


CFD simulations with ATS superGRIP attachment demonstrating its minimal impact on airflow across a system. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

Unlike other attachment technologies, superGRIP™ also requires no separate tooling and can be installed or released with a common tool such as a screwdriver. [11] This makes any potential rework easier. It is important to note the direction of the airflow when placing a heat sink, so it must also be considered when placing the frame clip as well.

[1] http://www.computerhistory.org/siliconengine/moores-law-predicts-the-future-of-integrated-circuits/
[2] http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1331974 and https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2017-06-01
[3] http://www.techdesignforums.com/practice/technique/overcoming-increasing-pcb-complexity-with-automation/
[4] http://ocmmanufacturing.com/resources/resource/dfm-tip-spacing-components-on-a-pcb/
[5] http://www.electronicdesign.com/embedded/engineer-s-guide-high-quality-pcb-design
[6] https://www.ecnmag.com/article/2011/09/know-your-choices-mounting-heat-sinks-hot-components
[7] https://www.masterbond.com/industries/heat-sink-attachment
[8] “How the maxiGRIP™ attachment system impacts component mechanical behavior,” Qpedia Thermal eMagazine, May 2008.
[9] https://www.qats.com/cpanel/UploadedPdf/ATS_superGRIP_Launch_Release_FINAL_with_Photo_0427092.pdf
[10] https://www.qats.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/superGRIP-Clearance-Guidelines1.pdf
[11] https://www.qats.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/superGRIP-Installation-Guidelines.pdf

For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) thermal management consulting and design services, visit www.qats.com or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.

Power Brick: #GoldStandard Heat Sinks for DC/DC Converters

Power Brick

ATS Power Brick heat sinks are the #GoldStandard for cooling eighth, quarter, half, and full brick DC/DC power converters. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) has a line of Power Brick heat sinks (available through Digi-Key Electronics and Arrow) that are specially designed to cool eighth-, quarter-, half-, and full-sized DC to DC power converters and power modules. Power Brick heat sinks feature ATS’ patented maxiFLOW™ design, which reduces the air pressure drop and provides greater surface area for more effective convection cooling.

Power Brick heat sinks are a critical component for the optimal thermal management of electronic devices because DC/DC power converters are used in many applications and across a number of industries, including communications, health care, computing, and more.

DC/DC converters are electronic circuits that convert direct current (DC) from one voltage to another. Converters protect electronic devices from power sources that are too strong or step up the level of the system input power to ensure it runs properly. The process works by way of a switching element that turns the initial DC signal into a square wave, which is alternating current (AC), and then passes it through a second filter that converts it back to DC at the necessary voltage.

As explained in an article on MaximIntegrated.com, “Switching power supplies offer higher efficiency than traditional linear power supplies. They can step-up, step-down, and invert. Some designs can isolate output voltage from the input.”

When converting electrical input to the proper voltage, DC/DC converters operate at a specified efficiency level, with some energy lost to heat. ATS Power Brick heat sinks provide the necessary step of dissipating that heat away from the converter to lower the junction temperature. This will optimize the performance of the component and ensure the longevity of the converter.

Anodization boosts Power Brick heat transfer capability

The pleasing gold color that has made Power Brick one of the most popular lines of heat sinks for DC/DC converters stems from the anodization process that ATS uses for its heat sinks. Anodization, as noted in an earlier blog post on this site, “changes the microscopic texture of a metal, making the surface durable, corrosion- and weather-resistant.”

Surface anodization works by turning the metal into the anode (positive electrode) of an electrolytic circuit. By passing an electric current through an acidic electrolytic solution, hydrogen is released at the cathode (negative electrode) and oxygen is released at the anode. The oxygen on the surface of the metal anode forms a deposit of metal oxide of varying thickness – anywhere from 1.8-25 microns.

The previous article explained, “The advantages of surface anodizing are the dielectric isolation of the cooling components from their electronics environment, and the significant increase in their surface emissivity.”

The emissivity coefficient of an anodized surface is typically 0.83-0.86, which is a significant boost from the standard coefficient of aluminum (0.04-0.06). By increasing the emissivity of the metal, there is also a significant enhancement of the metal’s radiant heat transfer coefficient.

The eye-catching gold color of ATS Power Brick heat sinks is added during the anodization process.

maxiFLOW™ design gives Power Brick an edge

Anodization of heat sinks is a standard practice to ensure that the metal components can withstand the rigors of dissipating heat from high-powered components. The feature that gives an ATS Power Brick heat sink the significant edge on its competitors is its patented maxiFLOW™ fin geometry, which has higher thermal performance for the physical volume it occupies compared to other heat sink designs.

maxiFLOW™ design is a low-profile, spread-fin array, which offers greater surface area for convection cooling. While it offers more surface area, it does not require additional space within the electronics package. This is an important feature in today’s electronics devices, which have an ever-increasing component density and in which space is always at a premium. This is an especially important feature for designers that want to cool DC/DC converters but are limited in the amount of available room.

Independent testing at Northeastern University of various heat sink designs demonstrated that maxiFLOW™ had the lowest thermal resistance for natural and forced convection, particularly when air flow velocity was below two meters per second. For heat sinks with the same base dimensions and fin height, maxiFLOW™ performed the best.

Testing has demonstrated that maxiFLOW™ can produce 20 percent lower junction temperatures and 40 percent lower thermal resistance than other heat sink designs. Utilizing maxiFLOW™ allows ATS Power Brick heat sinks to meet the industry standard base plate temperature of 100°C.
For more information about maxiFLOW™, watch the video below:

Power Brick meets industry standards

In the DC/DC market, there are a number of standard footprints that manufacturers use to offer flexibility for designers in choosing a vendor and in laying out a PCB. ATS has addressed the industry standard footprints with its Power Brick heat sinks. This will facilitate the use of the heat sinks for thermal management.

By optimizing the thermal management and meeting industry standards, Power Brick heat sinks can provide cost savings and reduce MTBF. Rather than having to over-design a system or a layout, engineers can turn to Power Brick as a thermal solution.

It is not only the industry standard footprints that Power Brick heat sinks have matched but also the standard hole patterns, which meet the standards set by the Distributed-power Open Systems Alliance (DOSA) to make assembly easy. The three millimeter holes (and soon 3.5 mm) match up to sizes commonly used in power brick manufacturing to ensure the proper connection for the heat sink (to avoid increasing the thermal resistance) and also to avoid using additional space in the tight confines of a PCB.

For the above reasons, Power Brick heat sinks are the “gold standard” for cooling DC/DC converters. Learn more in the video below:

For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. thermal management consulting and design services, visit www.qats.com or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.


i http://uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?file=automation/dc-converters-overview&id=infozone
ii https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/app-notes/index.mvp/id/2031
iii https://www.qats.com/cms/2010/11/09/how-heat-sink-anondization-improves-thermal-performance-part-1-of-2/
iv https://www.qats.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Qpedia_Oct08_How-Air-Velocity-Affects-HS-Performance.pdf

Industry Tips for Placing DC/DC Converters on PCB

DC/DC Converters

This article outlines industry tips and suggestions about placing DC/DC power converters on a PCB with other components. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

The design of a printed circuit board (PCB) that includes isolated DC to DC power converters is an important consideration to ensure the optimal performance of a system. Engineers have to be concerned with parasitic impedance and capacitance, the effects of the electromagnetic field created by the power converter on nearby components, as well as voltage accuracy, environmental noise reduction, and limiting radiated electro-magnetic interference (EMI).

This electromagnetic effect can cause significant voltage drops and improper design of a PCB could force engineers to make potentially costly changes (in terms of design time and budget), such as additional circuitry or upgrades to external components like power switches and capacitors.(i)

There are many advantages to using DC/DC converters and engineers adding these power bricks to a PCB do not have to be experts on power supply design, since the Distributed-power Open Systems Alliance (DOSA) has defined the industry standards for footprints and pinouts. Engineers know ahead of time how much space to dedicate and how the converter will be connected to the board.(ii)

“The brick typically comprises all the components (apart from filter circuits) required for a switching power supply including MOSFET switches, energy storage components, and switching controller,” writes Steven Keeping of Electronic Products on DigiKey.com. “By selecting a brick, an engineer does not have to worry about the intricacies of switching power supply design. The supplier has done all the work to ensure the unit operates optimally.”

While much of the work has been done by the manufacturer of the DC/DC converter to ensure its proper function, the engineer designing the system still has to consider the converter’s placement on a board carefully.

Parasitic Resistance, Impedance, and Capacitance

The most prominent issue that DC/DC converters can cause on a PCB is parasitic resistance, capacitance, and impedance. The power module creates an electromagnetic field that could disrupt the performance of components within its boundaries. As noted above, this could cause an unwanted voltage drop for the system and force more external power to be pushed through the converter.

According to a report published by members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) from Georgia Tech University, “Short and wide routing traces have lower parasitic resistances and inductances and therefore superimpose less ill-fated effects to the system. As a result, to reduce the parasitic resistance and inductance, the first rule in PCB layout is to place connected power components as close as possible and in a way that their interconnection lengths are minimal.”(iii)

An article on DigiKey.com adds, “The signal traces should not be routed underneath the module, unless they are sandwiched between ground planes, to avoid noise coupling. Similarly, to prevent any coupling, no component should be placed under the module.”(iv)

The IEEE report continued, “Ground planes are effectively close high-speed return paths for average forward signal paths, but arbitrarily increasing the ground plane may not necessarily reach critical nodes. In PCB technologies with more than two layers, middle layers are normally dedicated to ground planes, thereby decreasing their distance to high-current forward switching paths.”

It also recommended using parallel connections for the supply ground, load ground, and measurement instrument’s ground rather than series connectors that are potentially unreliable and that can add impedance between nodes. The report stated, “Undesired noise and high temperature gradients across the PCB usually result when problems with supply ground connections exist.”

DC/DC converters regulate the voltage supply to the system from external power supplies, which makes accuracy a critical component of its performance. In order to ensure the optimal accuracy, it is recommended that the feedback sense terminal is connected as close to the load as possible. It is this voltage that will be converted.

(Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

Radiated Electromagnetic Interference

Another major concern for placing a DC/DC converter on a PCB is the amount of radiated electromagnetic interference (EMI) is emitted from the module. This is limited by industry standards (CISPR in Europe and FCC in the U.S.) but, as converters work by converting input voltage to AC before converting it back to DC at the correct voltage, there is an electromagnetic field that is produced when the converter is in use.

To minimize the effects of this EMI, “High-frequency nodes should be as short as possible. The metal paths act as antennas and their frequency range is directly proportional to their length. High frequency signal-return paths should be as close as possible to their respective forward paths. The two traces will therefore generate equal but opposite magnetic fields, canceling each other and hence reducing radiated EMI.”(v)

Tim Hegarty, writing for EDN Network, said, “A passive shield layer is established by placing a ground plane as close as possible to the switching loop by using a minimum dielectric thickness. The horizontal current flow on the top layer sets up a vertical flux pattern. The resulting magnetic field induces a current, opposite in direction to the power loop, in the shield layer.

“By Lenz’s Law, the current in the shield layer generates a magnetic field to counteract the original power loop’s magnetic field. The result is an H-field self-cancellation that amounts to lower parasitic inductance, reduced switch-node voltage overshoot, and enhanced suppression of EMI. Having an uninterrupted, continuous shield plane on layer 2 underneath and at closest proximity to the power loop offers the best performance.”(vi)

On DigiKey.com, Steve Taranovich of Electronic Products Magazine wrote, “The input of a DC/DC power module is a constant power at low frequencies. As the voltage decreases, current increases. This will present negative impedance at the input source. The converter will oscillate when the combination of the input filter’s impedance and the power module impedance becomes negative, causing a mismatch to occur. One way to prevent this is to ensure that the output impedance of the filter is much smaller than the input impedance of the power module at all frequencies.”(vii)

Another issue related to electromagnetic field is ground bounce, which is produced by changing magnetic flux due to the fast-changing currents. One of the solutions to prevent this problem, which could cause noise in video and audio devices, is to ensure that “true ground” is at the low end of the load and that all the other points are part of the ground return. In a two-layer PCB, Jeff Barrow of Analog.com also suggests, “A well-planned cut in the ground plane will constrain the return current to a minimum loop area and greatly reduce the bounce. Any residual bounce voltage that is developed in the cut return line is isolated from the general ground plane.”(viii)


Industry standard DC/DC converters have made adding a power supply to a PCB easier for engineers in terms of known sizes and connections. The footprint of a power module is known, but engineers still have important considerations to make before deciding where it should be placed. Keeping in mind the effects of parasitic impedance, capacitance, and resistance and ensuring that the electromagnetic interference will not surpass industry standards or affect other components on the board will ensure optimal performance of the system as a whole.

Using the design tips that are listed here, engineers are well on their way to creating an effective PCB layout with a DC/DC converter. Using Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) Power Brick heat sinks will ensure the proper thermal management of the converters and of the board.
Learn more about Power Brick heat sinks at https://www.qats.com/eShop.aspx?productGroup=0&subGroup=2&q=Power%20Brick.

For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. thermal management consulting and design services, visit www.qats.com or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.


i http://rincon-mora.gatech.edu/research/pcb.pdf
ii http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2012/dec/an-introduction-to-board-mounted-dcdc-converter-bricks
iii http://rincon-mora.gatech.edu/research/pcb.pdf
iv http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2012/jul/proper-pcb-layout-minimizes-noise-coupling-for-point-of-load-converter-modules
v http://rincon-mora.gatech.edu/research/pcb.pdf
vi http://www.edn.com/design/power-management/4439749/3/DC-DC-converter-PCB-layout–Part-2
vii http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2011/dec/conducted-and-radiated-emissions-reduction-techniques-for-power-modules
viii https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e3bb/49a1403b2da7d3d77e7024f7be208ee3a732.pdf

Case Study: LED Solution for Outdoor Canopy Array

Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) was approached by a company interested in a new design for an outdoor LED unit that would be installed in gas station canopies. The original unit was bolted together and contained a molded plastic shroud that held the LED array, the PCB, and an extruded aluminum heat sink.

ATS engineers designed an aesthetically pleasing alternative that utilized natural convection cooling, while increasing the number of the LEDs in the array and its power. The engineers met the customer’s budget and thermal performance requirements.

Challenge: Create an outdoor canopy device that would increase the number of LED in the array, increase power to maximum of 120 watts, and increase lumens, while cooling the device through natural convection.

Chip/Component: The device had to hold an LED array and the PCB that powered it.

Analysis: Analytical modeling and CFD simulations determined the optimal fin efficiency to allow air through the device and across the heat sink, the spreading resistance. The weight of the device was also considered, as it would be outside above customers.

Solution: An aesthetically-pleasing, one-piece, casted unit with built-in electronics box for LED array and PCB was created. There was one inch of headroom between the heat sink and the canopy to allow for heat dissipation and the casting would allow heat transfer as well as allow air to flow through the system.

Net Result: The customer was able to add LEDs to the array and increase power. The new unit also simplified the manufacturing process and cut manufacturing costs.

For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. thermal management consulting and design services, visit www.qats.com or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.