Rapid TIM prototyping on production tooling

Thermal Issues Ltd is a progressive player in the Thermal Interface Materials market. The company specialises in the provision of standard and custom pad shapes manufactured from thermally conductive, electrically isolating, EMC-protection and sealing / vibration damping materials from trusted, world-renowned suppliers.

The demand for cooling electronics is increasing; applications are becoming more widespread. From scientific instruments, telecoms, automotive and aerospace the technology now overlaps into the EV industry. The cooling of battery systems has never been more crucial, particularly with electric vehicles displaying amazing torque performance and autonomous capability. There are now vehicles capable at travelling over 200km/h on a race circuit – without a driver! In these circumstances, it is absolutely crucial to have both electrically isolating and thermally conductive materials that are robust, reliable and readily available. Some of these materials offer continuous operating temperatures between -60oC and +200oC, with low thermal impedance and high dielectric strength – ensuring performance in the most extreme environments.

Importantly for both buyers and designers, Thermal Issues has developed a ground-breaking manufacturing process that works directly from digital data. It finally makes production tooling viable for one-offs and low-volume batch runs of custom pads and profiles. The result is a seamless transition from prototype to full production. And there’s no better way to prove a prototype than with production tooling. In addition, the innovative manufacturing process is fast and accurate, making rapid prototyping on production tooling to accuracies of less than 0.25mm a reality.

The same could be said for anti-vibration and sealing gaskets. Since the process lends itself well to most materials, parts can be produced from a wide range selected for their capability and high performance in terms of sealing, expansion and environmental stability requirements.

Thanks to its digital innovations, the company was also the first to introduce a business model that does not charge for tooling or set up. “In fact, we have never charged for tooling or set up since day one,” confirms founder and managing director Neil Wilson, who has almost 30 years of experience in the electronics sector. This invaluable cost benefit continues to deliver during prototype product revisions. Subsequent design adjustments are rapidly accommodated by simply changing the drawing detail. Again, there is no charge for tooling.

Prototype parts for fit, form and functional testing can, quite literally, be on the engineers’ desk by mid-day the next day. I see it as an invaluable service that cuts out “the donkey work” for an engineer, enabling them to concentrate on the more demanding aspects of a design says Wilson. This aspect allows for modifications to be made rapidly and precisely – crucial in a fast paced, ever changing world.

To support its dynamic custom pad manufacturing and to ease procurement, Thermal Issues Ltd also offers an exclusive Managed Inventory Service. “We understand that the bespoke nature of application-specific pad profiles that make fast-turn supply notoriously difficult,” acknowledges Wilson. That’s why the company will take a 3, 6 or 12-month order, manufacture the parts immediately, and hold them until its customer’s production schedule demands stock. Parts can be called off at short notice with billing at the point of despatch.

We are also the UK agent for Celsia, who manufacture Vapour Chambers and Heat Pipes for bespoke applications, states Wilson. They offer Enhanced Passive Cooling products; thanks to a proven technology and being well versed in Thermal calculations, the Celsia team are able to manufacture a component which employs the best attributes of heatsinks with those of heat pipes. And the result is astounding, within five per cent of the calculated performance. Boasting an amazing 10,000W/m-K potential, these bespoke products can put our customers at the top of their game – way above the competition in their field of expertise. This performance is assisted by a unique and patented design involving a sintered – almost porous – copper, giving performance up to 100 times that of solid copper and up to 60 per cent thermal weight reduction. Going from concept through prototype and to production is a rapid process. Thermal calculations can be delivered within five days, leading to prototypes within three weeks, and production parts within six weeks.

“It’s all part of our commitment to remaining agile,” explains Wilson, pointing out the reference to Thermal Issues strapline, we call this ‘Flexibility in Response’. 


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