FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We know that not everyone will be an expert in thermal & electrical polymer technology -
That's what we're here for!
With that in mind, please find below some answers to questions you may have regarding our various processes and terminologies.
The measure of a material's ability to conduct heat. Materials of relatively high thermal conductivity are commonly used for heat sink applications, whereas materials of low thermal conductivity (insulating) are used for thermal insulation.
WHAT IS THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY?
A material made of long, repeating chains of molecules. Common examples are plastics and rubbers.
WHAT IS A POLYMER?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THERMOPLASTIC & THERMOSET POLYMERS?
Thermoplastics - The individual molecular chains are not strongly cross-linked, allowing the material to be repeatedly melted and solidified (think of candle wax or water/ice).
Thermosets - The individual molecular chains are tightly cross-linked, meaning once the material is hardened into a form, it will no longer melt or flow (think of boiling an egg).
HOW CAN POLYMERS BE MADE THERMALLY CONDUCTIVE?
Varying levels of highly thermally conductive additives are mixed into polymers during extrusion to create conductive compounds.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STANDARD POLYMERS & THERMALLY CONDUCTIVE POLYMERS?
Typically, polymers show a very low level of thermal conductivity (around 0.1-0.3 W/mK). Specifically designed thermally conductive polymers can show thermal conductivity levels up to 50-100x this.
DO THERMALLY CONDUCTIVE POLYMER COMPOUNDS NEED TO BE ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE?
No, specific additives can be utilised which enhance thermal conductivity of the base polymer but maintain electrical insulation.
HOW DOES THE PERFORMANCE OF A THERMALLY CONDUCTIVE POLYMER COMPARE TO A TYPICAL HEAT SINK METAL?
Actual thermal conductivity values of thermally conductive polymers will never approach those of metals such as copper or aluminium. However, in convection limited situations (free air cooling), well designed polymer heat sinks have been shown to operate just as efficiently as comparative metal components.
HOW DO YOU MAKE ADHESIVES & PAINTS THERMALLY CONDUCTIVE?
The same additives which are employed to enhance thermal conductivity of plastics can also be utilised in adhesives and paints.
WHAT IS A BOTTLENECK IN TERMS OF THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY?
Heat flow through a ‘sink’ into the surrounding air is limited by convection. In applications involving natural convection, this is often insufficient to keep up with the additional heat dissipated through higher conductivity metals and hence creates a bottleneck in the heat flow away from source. In these cases, metals provide little or no overall thermal benefit over a thermally conductive polymer solution, which conducts less heat but is able to keep up with the natural convection rate.
WHAT IS GRAPHENE?
True graphene is a 2D single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms. It is the strongest compound discovered, the best conductor of heat at room temperature and also the best conductor of electricity known. The challenge lies in utilising graphene as an additive and transferring these properties to the final material.