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Aluminium has the edge in thermal management

A Norse Precision Castings product story
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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Sep 9, 2004

Although aluminium lies fourth after silver, copper and gold in the league of heat conduction, take into account its economy and ease of production, and it rises to the top.

Although aluminium lies fourth after silver, copper and gold in the league of heat conduction, take into account its economy and ease of production, and it rises to the top.

Recognisable as the most practical of the top four, aluminium has twice the conductivity of zinc and brass, three times that of magnesium and over ten times the figure for stainless steel - one of the worst conductors.

Frequently a problem, rarely an asset, the question of heat and its management often arises late in the design stages of any component or system, but a change in chassis or enclosure material can solve overheating problems quickly and easily.

The solution is often found in the management of the heat extraction.

In the extremes of say outer-space and some aviation systems, heat pipes can be employed but for the majority of industrial applications simple, more economical solutions are needed.

Norse Precision Castings offers a solution to both component and enclosure design.

Sand casting offers prototypes and low- to medium-batch production with a very short lead times and has the particular advantage in the early production stages that design changes to prototypes are relatively easily accommodated and at minimal cost.

The excellent fluidity enables aluminium to form complex three dimensional shapes, which can be used to form substantial conductors of heat without excessive weight penalty.

Add to this the ability incorporate heatsinks onto the outer surfaces of the enclosure at the extra costs of just the additional material and major benefits become significant.

Case examples include a sand-cast housing for mounting printed circuit boards where low tolerance slots provided high contact pressure for heat to be transferred to this frame, and the high frequency radio where the sink is incorporated into the chassis.

Heat is transferred via mounting studs and several pads designed to make contact under the PCB.

On a marine radar VDU, the heat dissipater is build into the back section of only the higher power variant, other models using the lighter weight version of the same chassis.

In such complex shapes, the key lies in accurate pattern making to produce near net shape components.

When post-cast machining is necessary, aluminium cuts easily providing low machine usage times.

The particular processes at Norse Precision also give high quality finish, with accurate repeatability.

Engineers at Norse Precision Castings are always available for technical and applications advise on all aspects of casting in aluminium.

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