Thermal Insulation: How to Find the Right Heat Management Material
While it is not always apparent to the end user, die cut thermal insulation plays a critical part in the functionality of many of the things we use in our everyday lives. Without thermal insulation, there’s nothing to minimize the transfer of heat in applications. For example, a car without thermal insulation could have heat created by the exhaust enter the cabin and affect any passengers. Conversely, thermal insulation can also keep heat from escaping a space, such as the heat created by an oven. Without the right heat management material, the oven would also heat up a kitchen instead of what’s inside of the appliance.
The products in need of heat management vary greatly, as do the variety of materials used to insulate their components. As a result, it is not uncommon for engineers to over-spec a product, adding cost without gaining value. This can be prevented by bringing JBC in during the design phase of your project. It can also be prevented by knowing exactly what to look for. This post highlights some important factors to consider as you work to determine the material that best meets your needs and budget.
Identify Which Factors Impact Your Choice of Thermal Insulation
Many aspects impact which thermal insulation materials are better suited for a specific application. These factors include where the insulation is used, how it’s meant to function, and any existing issues that can cause these materials to deteriorate or fail to perform. Here are five factors you should consider when investing in thermal insulation:
Forms of heat transfer
There are three forms of heat transfer.
- Radiant transfer – Heat transferred from electromagnetic waves
- Convective transfer – Heat transferred from a surface by way of air or fluid
- Conductive transfer – Heat transferred through physical contact
Each form of heat transfer comes with its own challenges and can dictate the type of material needed for your application. Radiant heat calls for an insulation with an emissive surface to help reflect unwanted heat. And materials used in applications exposed to conductive or convective transfer must withstand contact with heated surfaces without breaking down.
Both weight and density can affect the thermal conductivity of the insulation material. In general, the higher the weight and density, the better insulator it is. However, these materials typically cost more and it’s not always necessary to invest in the heaviest or most dense insulation. As such, you’ll want to weigh your performance needs before investing in a heavier, more dense thermal insulation.
The environment where the insulation will be used plays a big role in which material is best suited for your needs. The following environmental factors should play a part in your choice of material.
- Temperature ratings – Higher temperature insulations are made of materials that won’t break down at extreme temperatures, so it’s key to find a solution that matches your operating range.
- Intermittent vs. constant heat – While some materials will break down when consistently used at a higher temperature, there are lower-temperature rated insulations that may be appropriate for occasional exposure to higher heats.
- Fluids – Certain insulations will absorb moisture and lose thermal performance. If the material will be exposed to fluids, it’s important to use a hydrophobic material or invest in an insulation that’s shielded from moisture.
- Vibration – Vibration can break down insulation over time. As such, parts that will be subject oscillation, shaking, or other continuous movement will require a material that can withstand or absorb regular vibration.
While the main function of thermal insulation is heat management, some options also provide acoustic insulation. Lightweight heat shields, such as JBC’s TABshield®, are an increasingly popular insulation option. This type of shield combines a thin, radiant heat-reflecting foil face with a fibrous core that mitigates noise and minimizes thermal conductivity. These dual properties are an attractive option for numerous applications in the automotive, appliance, and industrial markets.
Common Types of Thermal Insulation
Once you identify which factors will impact your choice of insulation, it’s time to weigh your options. There are a significant number of insulation options for both low and high temperature applications. These are some of the more common types of die cut thermal insulation available.
Ceramic blankets and papers
If you’re in need of high-temperature performance and resistance, ceramic insulation materials are a natural fit. Ceramic blankets are flexible, lightweight, and perform up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while ceramic papers offer similar benefits and are thinner and less dense than blanket solutions.
Woven fiberglass insulation is a common thermal and acoustic insulation option. Fiberglass insulation is available in both flexible and rigid forms and can serve as a cost-effective alternative for high-heat materials like ceramic. One such alternative is ManniGlas®, a glass fiber paper that can insulate up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Needle mats are non-woven insulation products made of silica, fiberglass, or other fibers. These mats are a versatile insulation option, as they are soft and compressible, come in multiple thicknesses and densities, and feature options with many temperature ratings.
These lightweight, compressible insulations are made from hydrophobic synthetic fibers such as polyester or polypropylene. In addition to providing thermal insulation, synthetic blankets can reduce noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) to combine acoustical and thermal management in one material solution.
Select the Right Thermal Insulation for Your Applications
The experts at JBC Technologies bring decades of expertise in converting and precision die cutting flexible thermal insulation materials. We’ve worked with a wide spectrum of diverse materials, which allows us to recognize the right insulation materials for both your application and your budget.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with everything from material selection to design, production, testing, and more.