Working with a male-dominated team of engineers, I hear my fair share of guy talk. As would be expected from this group, many of their conversations are about their cars –how fast, how much power, and what they can do to improve each of the former.
I got to thinking that the tactics my car-buff colleagues use to increase the power in their cars are not totally unlike the techniques thermal designers use to manage the heat loss generated from their high power electronics.
Instead of adding turbo chargers, overboard cylinder walls, reinforced connecting rods, or nitrous injection to their project, thermal engineers add liquid cooling with refrigerants, high power pressurized fans or heat sinks with copper heat pipes running through them.
Incorporating materials such as these may be necessary, but often these solutions are quite expensive and overcompensate for the desired result. For example, instead of spending the extra $30 per assembly that it costs to integrate a heat pipe into a heat sink, did they consider that spending the extra few cents or dollar on a high-end thermal interface material might just do the job for them?