Boron nitride is an excellent heat conductor and electrical insulator with overall cost reduction while improving physical properties at lower loading.

Combine Heat Management and Electrical Insulation in LED Application

How Thermally Conductive Plastics containing Boron Nitride help displace over-engineered and costly metal-based thermal management systems in LED bulb applications?

Additive: Boron Nitride

Resins of Interest: PA6, PA66, PC and other engineering thermoplastics

Applications: Components used for thermal management(i.e. LED housings and lighting fixtures, automotive cooling systems, automotive under the hood applications, motor and battery housings, consumer electronic devices, electrical / electronic components in aerospace applications, temperature sensors and heat exchangers etc...)

Competitive Material replaced: Aluminum

Key benefits of Thermally Conductive Plastics containing Boron Nitride:

> Excellent thermal management in convection-limited environments

  • Combines thermal conductivity and electrical insulation
  • Potential replacement of over-engineered metal-based thermal management systems
  • Good chemical and corrosion resistance for long term service

> Cost-effective alternative to metal

  • Production cost reduction vs. aluminum (no secondary machining and processing steps)
  • Weight savings
  • Lower cost through higher design freedom (part rationalization and feature integration)
  • Color freedom

The Challenge: Optimize Thermal Management by Replacing Over-Engineered and Costly Metal-Based Systems

Until recently, designers have had a limited number of material options for creating thermal management components to dissipate heat away from a source and enable transfer to the ambient. Metal-based systems have been the solution of choice, and aluminum was primarily selected for light-weight thermal management systems. As a consequence, metal-based thermal management options are still used today; however, these systems are becoming more expensive based on raw material price increases observed over the past years. Users are discovering that in spite of large differences in thermal conductivity (W / mK) between metal and plastics - plastics offer suitable performance for many thermal management applications.

The Solution:
> Boron Nitride offer optimized Thermal Management in LED Application

Recent innovations in thermally conductive plastics containing Boron Nitride have opened new opportunities for thermal management solutions. These materials are now a viable alternative to aluminum, offering an excellent combination of thermal conductivity, electrical insulation and design freedom. Thermally Conductive Plastics containing Boron Nitride offer key advantages in the design of thermal management components used in convection-limited environments.

> Combination of Electrical Insulation and Thermal Conductivity Offers a New Approach to Thermal Management

The below pictures show the temperature distributions of two different LED light bulbs. While the bulb on the left (which uses a metal housing) shows a more uniform temperature distribution, the temperature of the bulb housing on the right (BN-loaded plastic) is in the same range. The temperature of the plastic housing is deemed acceptable for this application, while enabling the other potential benefits of plastics including total cost savings, weight savings, design freedom and color freedom.

> Similar Thermal Management Performance at Potentially Lower Cost with Thermally Conductive Plastics containing Boron Nitride

Image 1: 10 W LED bulb (~60W incandescent bulb)
with Aluminium housing

Image 2: 10W LED bulb (~60W incandescent bulb)
BN-filled Plastic housing
Note: Test results, actual results may vary.
  • Uniform temperature distribution
  • Typically higher system cost
  • Housing temperature similar to aluminum
  • Potentially lower system cost
    • Part integration
    • Simpler assembly
  • Additional benefits in design and color freedom

In the example below, a composite of polyamide (PA) containing Boron Nitride showed excellent in-plane thermal conductivity and has been used to manage the heat output of Light Emitting Diode (LED)-based bulbs. Thermal conductivities up to 5 W/mK, nearly 20 times higher than the neat resin, can be achieved with BN-filled plastics.

In-plane thermal conductivity comparison

Fig 1: TCP containing BN significantly increase thermal conductivity over Near Resin

In addition, the white color of Boron Nitride made the PA-BN composite the material of choice for this application, since the desired style and color could be achieved without a secondary painting operation. In summary, thermally conductive plastics containing Boron Nitride can offer excellent thermal management in convection limited environments and are a potentially cost-effective alternative to metal. If you need a heat management solution for LED housings or lighting fixtures, automotive under the hood applications, consumer electronic devices, electrical/electronic components in aerospace applications, automotive cooling systems, motor and battery housings, temperature sensors, heat exchangers or other applications, consider thermally conductive plastics containing Boron Nitride as your solution.

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