Heat Sink 101: Definition, Advantage, Types, Materials, And How To Make.

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The dependence on technology for everyday tasks requires industries to make their devices, vehicles, and instruments heat-efficient and convenient for long-term usage. A report concludes the yearly generated market share of consumer electronics, predicting the yearly revenue in 2018 below 1000 billion US dollars leading to an expected growth to almost 1,200 billion US dollars up till 2028.

But what is providing heat management to all these devices and vehicles?

A heat sink.

It offers heat-exchanging functions to consumer electronics and multiple other applications throughout the globe.

This article highlights the definition, types, benefits, and more about these amazing components. So you can know more about these super heat transferring components, indirectly optimizing our routine tasks.


What Is A Heat Sink?

The technological devices we use tend to produce thermal energy affecting their efficiency. Heat sink help as a solution. They are the components for regulating the thermal energy of machines, helping them work at optimal temperatures.

According to the design, they expel the heat from a device into the non-conductive thermal transfer fluid, air, and water. Either way, these components passively or actively cool devices using natural or forced convection.


Advantages of Heat sinks

  • Keeping the devices at a consistent and optimum temperature increases their reliability.
  • Works to remove extra heat from the device in the surroundings, ultimately increasing the device’s lifespan.
  • Improve the performance of devices, including CPUs, as a high CPU temperature results in a low and lagging performance.
  • Useful for reducing the cooling fan noise in the device by using natural airflow.
  • Improves the efficiency of components allowing even low-quality and cheaper components to do the necessary work saving the cost.


Types Of Heat Sink

These heat emission components are not confined to a single type; three common types depend on how they expel heat from the system.


1: Passive Heat Sinks

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Most electronic devices are designed with this type for easy management. They use natural airflow, cooling down the components by moving the heat away from the device.


  • They are cheaper and easy to operate.
  • Do not require any electricity to operate.


  • Less effective for devices with extensive heat production.


2: Active Heat Sinks

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They dissipate thermal energy from devices and machines into the air or fluid. Forced convection eliminates heat from a device using an electrically operated fan.


  • Quick and more efficient for eliminating heat.
  • Best choice for multifunctional devices.


  • Produces more noise because of the fan.


3: Hybrid Heat Sink

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Based on the situation, it uses passive and active heat-transferring methods. It will not use a fan in low heat waste, and heat will be transferred away from the device by natural convection.

A fan is automatically turned on if the heat is too high, which allows the heat to be transferred more quickly and efficiently.


  • Works according to need saving cost.
  • Improves the working of the device with a smart choice.


  • Sometimes, it may not use the desired heat sink.


Heat Sink Materials

Good thermal conductivity of any material helps with better heat elimination. Some of the appropriate materials used for its manufacturing include:


1: Aluminum

A commonly used material because of its good thermal conductivity and light weightiness. It is a good option for using common electronic devices because it costs less. Devices like LED lights often have aluminum heat sinks.

2: Aluminum Alloys

Sometimes, working with the pure form is difficult, which is why aluminum alloys are used for better strength. One of the alloys used is aluminum 1050.

3: Copper

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It offers better heat sinking and exchange properties and suits sensitive devices and components. CPU is a sensitive component that needs heat sinking to work efficiently, and that’s why copper heat sinks are used in them.

4: Graphite

It offers a required thermal conductivity that is almost relatable to copper. However, it is much lighter than copper. Sensitive applications requiring lightweight heat elimination components tend to use graphite-made heat sinkers.

5: Diamond

This material offers high-end heat-transferring features. Yet the cost isn’t affordable for most applications, so it is often avoided. However, semiconductor applications often use heat sinks constructed using diamond material to get adequate heat management.


Heat Sink Construction

Heat sink construction is based on different geometries of pins that help with the proper airflow and heat exchange. Depending on the purpose and mechanism, here are some options for heat sink construction.

Plate Pin

The plate pin-constructed heat sinks’ have a simple construction and low cost, making them usable for most electronic equipment.

Copper Round Pin

Some components do not have good airflow, so round pins settled in an estimated pattern are used in some heat sinks to help with efficient airflow. Components having omnidirectional air flow are most suitable for heat sinks constructed with round pins.

Elliptical Pin

A heat sink constructed with elliptical pins allows low-pressure drop, giving a better heat transfer in the whole system. The area behind the heat sink has a quick heat exchange because of the low thermal resistance of elliptical pins.


Methods To Make The Heat Sink

Various methods can be used for their construction considering the type and material. From complex machines like CNC to relatively easy procedures like stamping can all be used for making these useful heat-transferring components.

1: CNC Machining

Where the construction of complex heat sinks is required, CNC machines are used for sure. These machines have multiple functions available, like drilling, milling, and turning, which help to go through the complex parts of a heat sink effectively. A design is made in the CAD software and then transferred to the machine for making the parts.

Different structural parts of the heat sink are designed, including the dressing of the bottom surface and the formation of plates.


2: Extrusion

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Extrusion is used for constructing heat sinks when high production quantity is required. It usually helps with simple designs and cannot handle complex heat sink designs effectively. Yet it’s a quick solution saving the production cost-effectively.

Aluminum 6063 is common for heat-transferring components using the extrusion manufacturing process because of being a good thermal conductor. The material is heated up to 540 degrees centigrade and passed to the mold to make the desired embryo of the component. Once this procedure finalizes, additional finishing like profile groove and other processing is done on heat sinks to complete the production.


3: Die Casting

If you know the injection molding procedure, this one will be easier to understand as die casting is relatable. Aluminum is used for this manufacturing procedure, where it is heated at high temperatures to turn into liquid, and the liquid form is then filled in the molds for making the heat sink components.

After the complete procedure of die casting, a monomer heat sink comes out as a resultant product. Die Casting can make simple, dense, or even complex designs, effectively maintaining quality.


4: Cold Forging

It offers the high precision and accuracy required for making round pin heat sinks. Elliptical pin heat sinks are also manufactured using this procedure because of their intense pressure and low temperature, giving an accurate microstructure to the components.


5: Additive Manufacturing

When a more complex structure of heat sinks is required, additive manufacturing is the best option. It uses advanced methods that are free of traditional boundness. The applications of heat-releasing components made with this manufacturing method are especially in devices that need effective and efficient cooling.


6: Skiving

Skiving takes much of the manufacturing cost, which is why it is used in highly specialized applications. Especially where cost is not an important factor and the purpose is to provide the best heat transfer. Skiving manufactured heat sinks are often used in applications where sensitivity is a greater factor and needs highly precise heat management.


7: Stamping

The stamping procedure is used in highly specialized heat sinks. Stamping-manufactured heat sinks are used in applications where shorter heat sinks do not work; instead, there is a need to make tall ones with heat pipes throughout the structure.


Applications Of Heat Sink

  • CPUs are complex machines producing intense heat when working. Active convection provides an optimum temperature environment for them to work.
  • Various electrical devices and components are prone to produce extra heat that is a waste. The waste is yet transferred through these heat-regulating components.
  • The conversion of AC to DC in power supplies tends to produce waste heat. To maintain the life of these supplies, an efficient release of thermal energy helps them maintain temperature.
  • Electric vehicles get expensively hot when operating and need a heat sink to cool down the vehicle’s components.



Manufacturers will keep adding heat sinks to more appliances and machines to improve functionality and heat release. It means there’s a need for continuous development to improve the heat further sinks’ design.

But for that, you need to understand the basics; this article has explained everything!