What is Heat Sink?

Heat sinks guarantee longer life for various devices including light fixture. Usually, these are crafted with the help of materials having high thermal conductivity.

For instance, copper, aluminum, etc. The role of these components is to conduct heat from the heated devices and divert it to their extremes. After the heat touches the extremes, it finally reaches the air flowing overhead.

The entire process is extremely crucial for the longevity of the devices that heat up on continual use. And, it is pretty evident that heat sinks are not just a spare part, but contribute hugely to the entire internal design of these devices.

Hence, researchers tried to find the potential of 3D printing in designing the better version of heat sinks that we already have.

In a recent study from two different contributors, a lot of facts were analyzed. Bringing the gist of all: can we 3D print the heat sink? The answer is yes. But, what would it entail and how can we do that?

Experts from the USA, along with the researchers from Europe tested few designs to conclude that the 3D printed heatsinks aren’t just lighter and smaller but way more successful. Conventional heatsinks cannot have such benefits at all.

There are two projects working for the same cause, jointly proves that one can easily 3D print heat sink. One project was done at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the other was accomplished by the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

One of the studies deems that the 3D printed aluminum heat sinks can not only match but can even supersede the thermal conductivity belonging to the standard heatsink made with aluminum.

The later has come up with genetic algorithms using the freedom of complex shapes possible with 3D printing for designing heat sinks. These are sure to perform better than their conventional counterparts.

3D Print Heat Sink: Benefits and Limitations

We do know that 3D printing has its own advantages and disadvantages, especially when printing with metals.

And, when it comes to heat sinks, where the performance depends a lot on the design of the component, we must look for the pros and cons of establishing a connection between 3D printing and the manufacturing of heat sinks.

Limitations

We already talked a lot about the benefits. However, there are a few limitations as well. And, you must not ignore them.

Did we ever think why the lighting industry is still far behind when accepting 3D printing for heat sink manufacturing compared to the early adopters, aerospace, and automotive niche?

This is because 3D printing does provide better precision and offers lightweight results, but lacks speed.

Build times can be very high for printing with metals than it takes to build parts with plastic polymers. Plus, you may have to test multiple designs to finally find the one that suits your needs.

This would again complex the entire process, making the workflow tedious and time taking.

The other constraint is the cost of metal 3D printing. Not every industry can afford a 3D print heat sink. And, mass production is also a question mark as of now.