If you are working with LEDs, how are you handling the heat?

What thermal management materials are you using to help manage the heat in your LED applications? Do you have a favorite thermal interface material (TIM)? Grease? Phase change materials? Thermally conductive adhesive?

Forum Leaders

  • Craig McClenachan

    Craig McClenachan

    Vice President Fabrication and Assembly Business Unit FABRICO To read Craig's opening, click here
    1. Advances in thermal interface materials (TIMs) allow design engineers to implement better thermal management solutions for LEDs. Insulating hybrid and nonwoven papers, insulating solders, thermal grease – especially thermal grease pads – phase change materials, and thermally conductive adhesives all have their uses in different situations/applications. There is a lot of interest in new carbon composite laminates that can be die-cut to custom shapes for easy application and integration on complex and dense electronic designs, as opposed to traditional thermal grease solutions.

  • Peg Roberts

    Peg Roberts

    Design Engineer FABRICO To read Peg's opening, click here
    1. Thermally conductive adhesives are starting to come into their own for difficult thermal challenges, including LEDs. They are being used as an interface between an LED and a heat spreader. They are available as interface pads that can be cut to shape, as liquids for ultra-thin bond lines and easy integration into a manufacturing line, and as tapes that bring good surface wetting, good strength, and excellent shock absorption.

Comments are currently closed for this discussion topic

10 Responses Below

  1. Craig’s comments are right on. There is no single solution to thermal management problems. TIMs certainly play a key role. In addition to carbon composite laminates, there are many other advanced thermal management materials, such as Al/SiC, carbon/aluminum, carbon/copper, expanded natural graphite, highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite, etc.

    If anyone would like an overview paper on the subject, send me an email at

    by Carl Zweben on May 29, 2012 at: 12:30 pm
  2. Can solder be used in thermal management?

    by Dan on May 22, 2012 at: 10:14 am
    • Any material that is thermally conductive can be used as a medium for thermal management including solder. The main question is if it is the best solution. Solder is an alloy used to fuse metal workpieces, usually pins and wire ends. If the heat source has a small conductive area, soldering may even be the best solution as solder has a lower thermal resistance than thermal grease and pad – meaning solder is more thermally conductive. However, proper solder alloys should be selected for the temperature range in the application.

      by Tesfaye Leta on June 5, 2012 at: 9:54 am
  3. I have always used thermal grease. Why should I use anything else?

    by Sue on May 22, 2012 at: 10:12 am
    • Thermal grease does work very well in certain applications and is a good product for heat dissipation. The downside of thermal grease is that it can be difficult and messy to apply. In applications requiring close tolerances, adhesive attachment, and part consistency, a die-cut thermal interface part can be a better option.

      by Craig McClenachan on May 25, 2012 at: 3:09 pm
    • Replacing grease with pads would increase mfg. time, make for a cleaner product for both the short and long term and have a greater control over the thermal removal.

      by Chuck Neve on June 4, 2012 at: 1:30 pm
  4. I am thinking of using an LED in a headlight design on a truck. Should I be worried about heat dissipation if I use high brightness LEDs?

    by Bill D on May 22, 2012 at: 10:11 am
    • You should be concerned, typically with enlosed lighting systems heat is a contributing factor to system failure. We can help design a soultion to limit heat exposure and disipate heat genertaed from the system.

      Please contact your Fabrico Technical Sales Rep for furthure ideas.

      by Ben Arnold on May 25, 2012 at: 3:06 pm
  5. I have an LED application where I need to combine thermal management and electrical conductivity. What kind of material would you recommend?

    by Lisa on May 22, 2012 at: 10:09 am
    • Metals foil with conductive adhesives works best for applications that require both electrically and thermally conductive poperties. Feel free to contact Fabrico for all your LED application challenges.

      by Ben Arnold on May 25, 2012 at: 3:32 pm