LEDs chill out with heat sinks molded from conductive compounds (MAGAZINE)

March 22, 2011
Thermoplastic compounds featuring conductive fillers can be used to fabricate LED heat sinks that offer high performance and design freedom, explains Hans-Otto Schlothauer.
Heat sinks play a pragmatic role in LED lighting by dissipating heat that can impact performance and shorten useful life, but that does not mean they have to be utilitarian. Although traditional heat sinks are made with aluminum or copper, new conductive thermoplastic compounds in white and light colors offer expanded design freedom to create more-efficient heat-sink configurations. They also offer fresh aesthetics to complement stylish LED bulbs, enhancing the consumer appeal of LED lighting and driving adoption. Equally important, these compounds help to reduce system costs by replacing costly operations – such as the machining and finishing of metal parts – with efficient, high-volume injection molding.

The primary environmental and economic value of LEDs lies in their high-energy efficiency and exceptionally long life – up to 50,000 hours. Heat sinks are critical to both the performance and life span of LEDs. All types of electric lighting experience lumen depreciation with operation. For LEDs, the primary cause of this decrease in lumens is heat generated at the LED junction. The miniaturized and sensitive semiconductors used in LEDs are limited in their tolerance for heat.

++++++ This article was published in the March 2011 issue of LEDs Magazine. To read the full version of this article, please visit our magazine page, where you can download FREE electronic PDF versions of all issues of LEDs Magazine. You can also request a print copy of LEDs Magazine (available by paid subscription) and sign up for our free weekly email newsletter.