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56 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2019 or automated? And don't forget those niggling details that tend to get overlooked such as the conditions of the operating environment, which might cause pump-out, for example); migration of the interface material and its effects on the surrounding components or the materials used in the construction of the assembly, which are likely to include sensitive plastics; and special coatings. For guidance on all of this, read on. 2. How do I avoid these pain points? To answer this and the questions raised in the previous paragraphs, let me give you two golden rules that should at least get you on the right path to making informed choices. Rule 1 By all means, read through the technical data sheets, but don't just compare the values on paper. Get some product samples and see how they behave in a real application. A good supplier will be more than happy to accom- modate this type of request, and some may even offer in-house test facilities to help you make the right decision. I cannot stress enough the importance of this test-before-you-buy approach. If a thermal management product is not tested before use, the end performance of your product might be very different to what you expected. If you value your reputation in the market, it is vital to ensure that the desired efficiency of heat transfer can be achieved and retained over the expected lifetime of your product. Rule 2 Taking a cue from the property market, it's all about application, application, applica- tion! Make sure the product chosen matches your production needs, and don't forget those rework requirements, which will slant your choices towards specific material chemistries. Also, don't be reticent in seeking advice. Speak to your thermal management materials sup- plier about your key requirements both in the application and final use to ensure the best combination of properties are present in your final material choice. 3. How do I know that my thermal management choice is the best solution for the job? The most common way to evaluate the perfor- mance of a thermal management product is to check the thermal resistance between the com- ponent and heat sink with and without the ther- mal management product applied. Another com- mon method is to measure the device or com- ponent operating temperature with and without the thermal management product applied. As previously mentioned, it is vitally impor- tant to ensure that the thermal management product applied continues to perform satisfac- torily throughout the expected lifetime of the product. To ascertain this, the performance of the device or the thermal resistance between it and the heat sink need to be measured again after accelerated aging or environmental tests that simulate the real-world application condi- tions. This is the only way you be sure that the thermal management product chosen is really suitable for the job. Don't forget, whatever your choice is, you need to consider the application of the thermal management product and the volumes that will be needed for production. Make sure the chosen product also meets your needs in terms of ease of application, and that its dispensing/application rate is compatible with production line speeds. 4. How do I apply a thermal paste? Thermal pastes are designed to be applied as thin, uniform films. They should cover the If a thermal management product is not tested before use, the end performance of your product might be very different to what you expected.

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