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By Mark Swanson on  6/28/2018

Thermal Pads and Thermal Films for Heat Dissipation

die cut materials for thermal management

Thermal pads and films dissipate heat away from hot spots in LED lighting, consumer electronics, motors, and other applications. Thermal pads are made of silicone-based materials or specialty waxes with thermally-conductive fillers. Some of these thermal interface materials (TIMs) are reinforced with fiberglass or cloth for increased tear resistance. Thermal films are made of silicones, polyimides, and other thermally-conductive materials with a thin footprint.

Thermal pads and thermal films are replacing thermally-conductive greases in applications such as disk drives, chipsets, communication equipment, and printed circuit board (PCB) protection. These TIMs are also compatible with electronic components and an aluminum housing or chassis. Thermal pads and films aren’t messy like thermal greases or pastes and are easier to handle. Pads and films also support die cutting, a fast, precise, and cost-effective way to get the thermal management solutions that you need.    

Thermal Pads

Thermal pads are die cut from sheets or rolls of silicone-based or paraffin wax materials. They are usually installed on the underside of heat sinks with a thermal adhesive. Thermally conductive pads move heat away from a component, such as a chip or central processing unit (CPU), that requires cooling. They fill the tiny gaps between imperfectly-flat surfaces (the heat source and heat sink) that need to contact each other for optimum heat dissipation.      

Thermal pads are soft, compressible, and can be die cut into precise shapes such as squares, stars, and rectangles.  Elastomeric pads that are made of silicone come pre-cured and won’t contaminate electronic components. Thermal interface pads or gap pads made of specialty waxes are solid at room temperature but become flowable as the device heats up. These phase change materials (PCMs) are designed to offer the performance of thermal greases with the convenience of pre-cured thermal pads.        

Thermal Films

Thermal films are die cut from thin sheets or rolls of silicones, polyimides, and other thermally-conductive materials. They’re designed to fit tight gaps and are often used with motors and high-performance semiconductors. Die cut thermal films usually have a release liner and a heat-activated, pressure-sensitive, or solvent-based adhesive system. Some thermal films cure into a harder material that acts as both a dielectric barrier and a TIM.

Thermal adhesive films can bond large areas or complex parts that require heat dissipation. Like thermal pads, these die cut TIMs are easier to apply than thermal greases or pastes. Some thermal films also meet UL 94-V0 flame ratings. From material selection to precision die cutting, JBC Technologies can provide the TIMs that you need. To get started, contact us.


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