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Thermally Conductive Chemistries: What's the Difference?

( 01/08/2020 ) Written by: Nick Cupelli

With the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs), competition is at an all-time high. Automakers have strict specifications on how components for EVs should be created, so the need for thermal management materials are very unique. Due to a variety of distinct designs in EV battery packs, motors and chargers, materials in multiple chemistries are often looked at to meet specifications and performance needs. Our CoolTherm® portfolio of thermal management materials include products across each of these four chemistries: silicones, epoxies, urethanes, and acrylics.


Silicones offer flexibility in a wide temperature range (-75°C to +200°C), making them among the most versatile chemistries. Silicones come in both filled and unfilled varieties of platinum-cured or condensation-cured materials. They are inherently non-flammable which makes them valuable in applications that require UL 94 V-0 ratings. The right silicone products can also help protect fragile electronic components and modules where high-temperature resistance and permanent flexibility are top priorities. LORD CoolTherm® silicones are best in class for their high thermal conductivity coupled with low viscosity, allowing the material to fill tight spaces in applications to displace air and transfer heat efficiently. If individual components fail in an application, silicones are easily reparable, and can be cut away to replace a broken component and then refilled with new material.


Epoxies provide versatility, durability, adhesion, chemical resistance, and high-temperature tolerance across applications. Epoxies have the greatest range of cure temperatures compared to the other chemistries, from room temperature to +210°C, which can be used to develop strong mechanical properties in applications that experience high operating temperatures. Outgassing is often a concern with other materials, but epoxies form very little or no volatiles during the curing process. Epoxy systems offer a variety of characteristics that vary from extremely flexible to highly rigid materials, are either filled or unfilled, and can also be thermally and/or electrically conductive and flame retardant.


Urethanes are somewhat of a middle ground between silicones and epoxies. They offer properties such as low-temperature performance, repairability, and flexibility, like the typical silicone, but they also offer good adhesion and can act as a water or chemical barrier, like epoxies. Most urethanes also are very low in viscosity, filling fine spaces in applications to increase heat transfer or electrical insulation. In addition, urethanes offer fast working life and gel times at room temperature, so for applications where short cycle time or high throughput is required, urethanes assist in improving production efficiency.


Acrylics are primarily used to bond metals, composites, and thermoplastic materials. They require little to no surface preparation or primers and cure very quickly at room temperature. High quality acrylics deliver impact resistance, excellent low- and high-temperature performance, desirable in-service fatigue life, and high structural strength in bonded assemblies.

LORD is proud to offer multiple chemistries in our CoolTherm® portfolio to give our customers flexibility and options. Our dedicated Applications Engineers assist with material selection, application, processing, dispensing, and any other needs you may have related to CoolTherm® materials. For more information on thermal management materials, download our eBook or visit our CoolTherm® product page.

Nick Cupelli

Applications Engineer, Electronic Materials for LORD Corporation, started his professional career with LORD in 2015 after graduating from Pennsylvania State University. Nick began in the LORD Career Foundations Program and has held manufacturing, sourcing, business development, and research positions at LORD prior to his current position as an Applications Engineer.

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