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Liquid Cold Plate Manufacturing: Materials and Processes

Views: 22     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-05-13      Origin: Site

I. Introduction

One of the significant problems with electronics is the release of heat that needs to be managed. Every electronic device must go through a heat dissipation process so that the components may last longer.


Such electronics which do not have a proper heat dissipation mechanism end up overheating and even do not last much longer as heat impacts their durability.


In order to resolve the overheating problem, most industries use liquid cold plates in their devices, ensuring that heat is taken away from the components and cooled down for better lasting and performance.


Different kinds of liquid cold plates are made using multiple materials and have different manufacturing processes. In this guide below, you will learn many things about a liquid cold plate, so let's read below.

custom liquid cold plate

II. Materials used in liquid cold plate manufacturing

Different materials that make liquid cold plates have different pros and cons for their application as the liquid cold plate. You can read below to learn more about it.


Copper

Copper is one of the finest and most commonly used materials in the electronics field; hence, when it comes to liquid cold plates, copper is widely considered. Some of its advantages and disadvantages are as follows:


Advantages:

● Copper can quickly transfer heat, which is why it offers excellent thermal conductivity.

● Liquid cold plates are sometimes used in such environments that are highly corrosive. Hence, they require materials like copper, which offers resistance against corrosion and allows the device to last long.

● Copper is a ductile metal, so shaping it into multiple simple and complex geometries is relatively easy, making it suitable for liquid cold plates.


Disadvantages

● The cost of copper is high compared to other materials and because it is expensive the liquid cold plates manufactured using it are also costly.

● The weight of copper itself is heavy, which makes the device it is used in heavy, which might not be suitable for some systems.


Different alloys of copper may be used to manufacture liquid cold plates like C11000, which is pure copper and has excellent thermal conductivity. The other copper alloy used is C12200 which also has a small portion of phosphorus and offers seamless corrosion resistance.


Aluminum

Liquid cold plates are even made using aluminum, and there are some advantages and disadvantages of aluminum too, which are discussed below:

Advantages:

● Offers good thermal conductivity.

● It is lightweight, so the height of the entire cooling system doesn't increase.

● The cost of aluminum is lower than copper; therefore, the cost of liquid cold plates also reduces.


Disadvantages:

● It may end up rusting if it gets in contact with other coolants.

● Aluminum's ductility is lesser than copper; hence, achieving every shape is not possible.


There are different alloys for aluminum which comprises 6061, which offers excellent mechanical properties, and 3003, which has seamless formability.


Other Materials

Graphite and stainless steel are two materials used to manufacture liquid cold plates. Graphite is known for its lightweight and non-corrosive nature, whereas it is not widely available and is prone to cracking.


Stainless steel on the other hand offers an unmatchable strength and is resistant against corrosion; however, it costs more than aluminum and lacks thermal conductivity.

liquid cold plate

III. Processes used in liquid cold plate manufacturing

There are different kinds of the process involved in manufacturing liquid cold plates, and these are discussed below:


Extrusion

The extrusion process involves creating a liquid cold plate by forming the required material in a die. This process uses a certain temperature followed by high pressure to force the material to achieve the required metal profile.


The process of extrusion is relatively fast and also affordable. Moreover, it allows the manufacturing of multiple shapes and sizes compared to other processes. However, it only offers a limitation to covering the cross-sectional shapes and might not be suitable for complex designs.


Extruded liquid cold plates are observed to be used in aerospace and automobile application, and so some computing devices even comprise them.


Machining

Machining is a subtractive manufacturing process used to manufacture liquid cold plates. A block of required material is taken through which the material is removed, and a liquid cold plate is formed.


The machining process is very flexible and allows the manufacturing of different kinds of shapes. Moreover, the surface finish of the parts manufactured is relatively high. However, it is expensive and a relatively slow process. Furthermore, it ends up wasting a lot of material.


Liquid cold plates manufactured using machines are used primarily in the power electronics and defense industry.


Bonding

The bonding process involves joining two or more two materials together. When manufacturing the liquid cold plate, the sheets of metals are joined together using an adhesive.


Bonding is a very flexible method of manufacturing liquid cold plates and offers a high dimensional accuracy as well as better surface finishing, but it is expensive and also takes a lot of time.


Bonding is used for manufacturing liquid plates that are used in the field of medicine and military applications.


Additive Manufacturing

In additive manufacturing, the liquid cold plate is manufactured layer by layer, and it is all done through a process controlled by computer software. It has a very flexible process, and even complex shapes can easily be manufactured using it; moreover, it offers quick and affordable production.


On the other hand, the mechanical properties of the final liquid cold plate might not be better than other processes, and also, size limitations are present with this process.


Additive liquid cold plate manufacturing is used in many research applications, mainly in aerospace.

copper liquid cold plate

IV. Design considerations in liquid cold plate manufacturing

Designing a liquid cold plate requires many considerations when it comes to manufacturing, and some of these design considerations are as follows:


Fluid Flow Optimization

Liquid coolant has to flow through the liquid cold plate; hence, the better it flows, the higher its efficiency. So, the channel design, pressure drop, and flow rate are one of the primary considerations when it comes to manufacturing the liquid cold plate.


The channel design needs to be capable of maximizing the transfer of heat, and the flow rate must also be optimized, ensuring that the speed of the coolant when flowing is up to the mark. Similarly, the pressure drop needs to be minimized to reduce the workload on the coolant pump.


Thermal Performance

The thermal performance of the liquid cold plate is essential because the higher the thermal performance, the more quickly it will let the heat transfer occur. In this case, the heat transfer coefficient helps ensure the transfer of heat between the coolant and the liquid cold plate. The material also needs to be selected after ensuring that it can handle high thermal pressure.


Mechanical Considerations

Liquid cold plates must be strong enough to handle all kinds of pressure and temperatures. Sometimes when used in electronic devices, they suffer a lot of heat, pressure, and even vibrations; hence it is essential to maintain stability in such circumstances.


Manufacturing Feasibility

Manufacturing feasibility comprises two aspects: the cost and ease of manufacturing. The design of the liquid cold plate should be such that it offers ease in the manufacturing process, and also, the cost of the cold plate needs to be minimized without compromising the quality of the liquid cold plate.


V. Quality control and testing in liquid cold plate manufacturing

Once the liquid cold plates are manufactured, they must be tested for quality control, ensuring no flaws are left during manufacturing.


Non-destructive Testing

Non-destructive testing methods consist of inspection through X-ray, leak testing, and pressure testing. X-ray helps identify internal defects in the cold plates, like cracks or empty spaces. Pressure testing helps ensure that the liquid cold plate can handle the pressure, and leak testing identifies any leakage in the cold plates that might leak the coolant.


Destructive Testing

Destructive testing comprises two aspects one is mechanical testing, and one is testing for thermal performance. The process of mechanical testing allows keeping an eye on the strength and hardness of the liquid cold plate. Thermal testing helps measure the cold plate's ability to dissipate heat.


Quality Control Measures

Quality control measures help assess the manufacturing process of the liquid cold plate, which includes keeping an eye on the process and ensuring that it meets the required standards. On the other hand, the inspection protocols are considered to assess that the defects in the liquid cold plates are detected and fixed before it is sent to the clients.

custom liquid cold plate

VI. Advancements and trends in liquid cold plate manufacturing

Liquid cold plates have become an essential part of most electronic goods, and hence the field of manufacturing them is progressing rapidly. Some of the advanced trends observed in this manufacturing as discussed below:


● The manufacturers of the liquid cold plates are looking forward to exploring new materials more suitable for manufacturing these plates. They look for materials that have better strength and thermal conductivity and are corrosion-resistant.

● The process of manufacturing liquid cold plates is also undergoing rapid improvement, and microfabrication, laser cutting, and 3D printing are used to manufacture complex liquid cold plates with a better outcome.

● Manufacturers of liquid cold plates are even looking forward to manufacturing industry-specific liquid cold plates and catering to the different industries' customized requirements. Many industries need such liquid cold plates, which are subjected to extreme temperatures, and here not all kinds of liquid cold plates work well.


VII. Conclusion

Liquid cold plates form a very important part of many electronic appliances; hence, they must be manufactured with excessive care to fulfill their purpose effectively.


If you are also looking to get hands-on quality liquid cold plates that are tested and meet the standards, or you need a customized version, contact us. We at Kingkatech ensure our clients get the finest quality cold plates that meet their requirements.


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