Aluminum Bonding and Heat Management in Manufacturing

Abstract CPUThink of the smartphone you hold in your hand, or of your tablet or laptop. The amount of processing power they contain dwarfs offerings from just a few years ago. Theoretically, the parts should be much hotter from doing so many more operations. They are not and one of the biggest reasons why is aluminum soldering and aluminum bonding applications.

Basics of Thermal Management in Manufacturing

Many of the advancements for electronics manufacturing, and other industries that benefit from aluminum soldering, revolve around miniaturization. Parts are smaller, which in some cases mean they are more fragile. In the case of solid-state lighting and LEDs, the advancement in efficiency comes at a price as well: the area of the product where the light is created can hit high temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius at the absolute maximum, according to Cree LED data sheets.

Temperature management goes beyond that, however. One of the best conductors of heat is aluminum. In certain high-tech applications copper also makes sense, as long as the design and product managers can account for both price and weight. What they also have to account for is the coefficient of thermal expansion. Materials that can transmit heat well, like aluminum, also tend to expand relatively quickly. This can lead to deformation or cracking if the component has been mated to another piece that does not expand at the same rate.

Before low-temperature aluminum bonding solders were available, that would mean using polymers and glues to connect the printed circuit boards and other components to heat sinks and enclosures. Now, instead of having these “choke points” where cooling issues can arise, one can use S-Bond and other alloy solders to improve heat transfer.

Sample Applications of Low-Heat Aluminum Soldering

Temperature regulation once the product is in operation is one of the dominant areas where alloy solders will benefit designs. However, the use of products like the S-Bond 140 can also make it easier to develop stronger enclosures and cases, especially those that are made with exotic materials for improved corrosion resistance and tensile strength.

One major area where that is required is shipborne electronics. In recent years, the Navy has sought proposals on improved aluminum bonding solutions for their electronics warfare and radar devices. The research began at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but the major concern for the Navy was the likelihood of significant mismatches in the coefficients of thermal expansion.

Airplane electronics and sensor equipment are also a significant area where aluminum soldering is an important element. This equipment is subject to extreme stresses, especially given the temperatures at cruising altitude. Many manufacturers are now using rarer metals like beryllium and alloys of it. Still with all the different components, it is important to be able to join the materials with little to no risk of damaging any of the internals.

Moving Forward

Aluminum bonding will continue to grow in importance. Some of that will come from the use of exotic alloys in areas that need rapid improvements such as battery technology to improve alternative energy products and of course in vehicles.

Consumers will also see the results of using specialized materials in electronics, like tablets and smartphones, although they might not realize its usage. Being able to directly bond cases to the glass covers in electronics helps to strengthen the overall structure without adding excess weight.

In addition, when smaller enclosures are created for products designed for outside uses, the benefits of aluminum soldering provide more protection without having to worry about the potential inconsistencies with spot welding or other processes.

Learn More about Aluminum Soldering Products from S-Bond

Many engineers may believe that the melting points of alloys used in aluminum bonding is relatively static and may think that they have to design around this temperature “weak point” even when it is not true.

S-Bond’s 140 active solder melts at 135-140 degrees Celsius which enables it to be used near dangerous circuitry and in designs where materials like metals and screens must be joined to protect components from environmental factors. However, S-Bond also works with many customers to design alloys that can be adjusted for strength, melting temperature, corrosion and other elements. Use the contact form or call 215-631-7114 for more information.