Bayer MaterialScience LLC offers plastic materials and streamlined assembly process that can help manufacturers remain competitive in the LED lighting market. While the LED lighting market continues to grow, the relatively high price of LED bulbs has forced manufacturers to explore ways to reduce costs. Since electronic component costs are usually fixed, other components, such as the heat sink, offer an opportunity to reduce costs and improve performance through unique assembly processes.
In-mold electronic component assembly and encapsulation is possible by combining two polymer technologies - thermally conductive polycarbonate and insulating polyurethane. Doing so reduces the number of components while creating a finished part in a mold without additional manual assembly. Compared to traditional manufacturing, this process lowers labor costs and improves thermal contact by eliminating relatively low conductivity thermal interface materials (TIM).
Nicolas Sunderland, senior scientist, and Terry G. Davis, principal engineer, both of Bayer MaterialScience LLC, presented Thermally Conductive Polycarbonate for Electronics, at the March 25 Society of Plastics Engineers' ANTEC® conference in Orlando. Jim Lorenzo, principal engineer, and Dave Rocco, senior engineer, also authored the paper.
According to Sunderland and Davis, the benefits of combining thermally conductive Makrolon® TC8030 polycarbonate with polyurethane encapsulation technology utilizing Bayflex® polyurethane reaction injection molding (RIM) technology include: reducing the bill of materials, increasing manufacturing flexibility, and reducing the weight for many electronic components
As part of the presentation, they detailed the assembly process - with a particular focus on in-mold encapsulation - and offered results of temperature and durability testing.