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Thermal Management Properties of Silicone

( 06/30/2021 ) Written by: Mekiyah Bailey

We hear a lot about thermal management, but what is it, and why is it important? Thermal management is the use of materials to transfer heat away from a hot component to avoid malfunctioning. Electronics, big and small, need thermal management. At the same time, we want products that are faster and more power-dense. However, less space and more power can lead to overheated components with a shorter lifespan and performance issues. 

To help explain the importance of thermal management, we’ve created an in-depth five-part educational webinar series on thermal management. The first two webinars covered an Introduction to Thermal Management and Understanding Technical Terms

We offer multiple chemistries, including urethanes, epoxies, acrylics, and silicones. Our silicone products, highlighted in our third session, perform extremely well in protecting fragile electronics. They offer many advantages, including a broad temperature range, curing with and without heat, and repairability. They also repel water, are flame retardant, and provide exceptional electrical insulation. Silicones are polymer (large molecules built from smaller units) chains that you can find in everyday products, such as shampoo, shoe insoles, medical devices, and more. Types of polymers include linear, branched, or network. 

Our silicones are available in one- or two-component (1K or 2K). 1K products are moisture or heat cured, require no mixing, cool before application, and include greases, gels, and adhesives. 2K products, seen in our gap fillers, are heat cured and allow for multiple mix ratios by weight and volume.  

Silicone Thermal Management Solutions

We offer multiple silicone thermal management solutions, each with unique features and advantages. They include:

  • Potting and encapsulation, which optimize heat dissipations with high thermal conductivity and low viscosity. 
  • Gap fillers, which are more viscous than potting and encapsulating but offer the same excellent thermal conductivity. 
  • Gels, which are constructed for thermal interface material with adhesion and rework capabilities.
  • Greases, which we design for applications where a thermal interface material is required.  

Our CoolTherm portfolio of silicone thermal management products offers varying thermal conductivities and viscosities. The products in this portfolio include SC-1200, SC-1600, and SC-324, among many others. Further, all of these products are UL 94 V-0 rated, meaning they are flame retardant.

How to Dispense Silicone Materials

Different materials require different dispensing methods. Potting and encapsulation, for example, may have to undergo agitation and degassing. Agitation involves remixing the product either by hand, mechanical mixing, or a paint shaker to ensure the filler and chemistries evenly distribute before dispensing the product on the component. Degassing (releasing the air) is needed when agitation introduces gas into the product. 

In potting and encapsulation, high-volume production typically requires an MMD (Meter Mixed Dispensing) unit. Some of these products must be pre-heated, while others may need recirculation to prevent filler settling in the feed lines.

On the other hand, gap fillers do not require rotation or agitation and can be dispensed by cartridge or with MMD equipment. 

There are many types of dispense equipment, and your material’s properties can considerably impact which type you should choose. If you need help selecting MMD equipment or determining the individual components, please contact one of our engineers.

To check out our other in-depth webinars in the educational series, please visit our Thermal Management Virtual Academy page. 


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR MORE BY THIS AUTHOR
Mekiyah Bailey Mekiyah Bailey is an application engineer in the electronic materials group and has been with Parker LORD for over 2 years. Her expertise is in silicone and urethane materials and she runs thermal testing in our electronic materials labs. Her primary focus is finding solutions and communicating results based on a customer’s needs. She also holds a bachelors degree from University of North Carolina Greensboro and a Masters degree in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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