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John O | September 2017

What are the benefits of pin fin heat sinks in thermal management

a recent article presented by advanced thermal solutions, inc. (ats) looked at pin fin heat sinks, which have been a standard heat sink geometry for many years, to get a better understanding of the benefits that the design brings to the thermal management of electronics.


pin fin heat sinks attached to a pcb with ats maxigrip heat sink
attachment system. (advanced thermal solutions, inc.)


as component-density has risen and the power demands of systems has increased, engineers are looking for heat sink geometries that work in tight spaces, but that can also provide the necessary cooling power.


for many designers, one method of increasing heat transfer has been using more powerful fans to increase the airflow through a system and that is where pin fin heat sinks are particularly useful.


“in particular, the pin fin heat sink geometry is designed to provide increased surface area for heat transfer, low thermal resistance from base to fins at high airflow (200-plus lfm), and work in environments where the direction of airflow is ambiguous,” the article explained.


increasing the airflow enhances cooling by breaking the boundary layer of still air that surrounds a heat sink, which is aided by the round, aerodynamic shape of the pin fin heat sinks. this enables more airflow to enter the fin array and more efficiently use the additional surface area that pin fin heat sinks provide.


the other primary benefit to engineers is cost.


“for example, the ats family of standard and custom pin fin heat sinks are all available for less than $2.00, with the vast majority of heat sinks available for less than a dollar,” the article added. “this means that engineers can find high-efficiency heat sinks and save money in the budget, which can be put to other design considerations, such as higher-powered fans to increase airflow, better heat sinks attachments, or additional chips and other board components.”


one market that could benefit from cost-savings is the growing maker community, which is usually limited by resources and tight budget restraints. these hobbyists, builders, and engineers need more than online crowdfunding sources to make their designs work.


the article concluded, “pin fin heat sinks can be added at low-cost and provide the necessary thermal performance to push a design process along. for the maker market and its (at times) limited resources, high-efficiency pin fin heat sinks provide thermal performance on a budget with the versatility to fit into a variety of systems and designs.”


read the full article at https://goo.gl/ytfrzf.

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