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FIMECC’s DEMAPP program result highlight: EXCELLENT THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY OF ALUMINIUM CASTINGS

11 Jul 2012

Electronic components are becoming more powerful and generate excess heat which must be conducted away through the cast aluminium casing. This challenge has been tackled in DEMAPP program by Aalto University and Alteams. Now their systematic research efforts have lead already to a 50% improvement in thermal conductivity of cast aluminium alloys. This significant result is achieved by optimizing the alloy composition, processing conditions and heat treatment.

Electronic components are showing more and more performance all the time. However, they also generate excess heat which must be dissipated away to guarantee stable functioning of the devices. If the electronics e.g. up on the mast of mobile phone base stations overheat, the base station could malfunction. It may cut out entirely or limit the number of calls.

Die casting is an efficient and economical manufacturing process used for the mass production of metal parts. Die cast aluminium parts used as electronics housings need high heat dissipation. A FIMECC research project by Aalto University and Alteams Oy, within the DEMAPP program, has now achieved a more than 50 percent improvement in the thermal conductivity of cast aluminium alloys. As the typical values are around 120 W/mK, the project has achieved values above 190 W/mK. The result is novel, unique and highly significant, as it is the property of ready-made cast parts.

The basis of the achievement is optimization of the alloy composition. Reducing the amount of silicon in the aluminium alloy improves thermal conductivity, but it also makes processing more challenging. Controlling the processing phase is thus of key importance, as well. Both high-pressure casting and so called rheo-casting have been applied during the studies. The third important element is controlled thermal treatment at elevated temperatures. These together lead to high-quality cast aluminium parts with high thermal conductivity.

Both researchers and industry are very excited with the results which show potential to several technical and economical benefits. “The achievement shows clearly the strength of the target-oriented hands-on industry-academia R&D cooperation within DEMAPP and FIMECC”, says Markku Heino from Spinverse, the Program Manager of DEMAPP. These unique results will have an impact in many other applications as well. Improvement in heat transfer guarantees not only high-performance of devices, but also longer lifetime and significant energy and material savings.

More information:
Juhani Orkas, Professor, Aalto University, Tel. +358 50 556 2288, juhani.orkas@aalto.fi
Esa Suikkanen, Development manager, Alteams Oy, Tel. +358 400 979 939, esa.suikkanen@alteams.com
Harri Kulmala, CEO, FIMECC Oy, Tel. +358 40 840 6380, harri.kulmala@dimecc.com
Markku Heino, Program Manager, Spinverse Oy, Tel. +358 40 7191221, markku.heino@spinverse.com

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Markku Heino

Principal Consultant, D.Sc. (Tech.) +358 40 7191221

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