Written by Jarett Nickerson, VP – Sales & Marketing at C-Therm.
Picture above: C-Therm Trident with MTPS (ASTM 7984), FLEX TPS (ISO 22007-1) and TLS NEEDLE (ASTM D5334 and D5930) configuration. The Trident system provides three different methods for measuring thermal conductivity and is applied in testing polymers, composites, geological samples and more.
If thermal conductivity is considered a critical performance attribute of your materials, can you afford to outsource it? Over the past decade, there have been significant advancements in improving thermal conductivity test methods in making them more user-friendly. Thermal conductivity instruments such as C-Therm’s Trident system make it easy to bring the capabilities in-house with limited training or expertise. So what are the main reasons to make the investment?
1. Loss of Intellectual Property
Do you want to send your most proprietary formulations currently in development outside of your organization?
Time is our most valuable commodity. Accelerating time to market is critical. While test times are generally short, one should consider the amount of time wasted in contracting with an outside organization (including NDA for more sensitive materials), sample shipment, and the overall associated logistics of outsourcing your testing needs.
Testing your samples in-house allows you to gain added insight into the thermal conductivity performance of the materials. Often unique insight is gained in the testing of the material itself, beyond the number. Take for example the case of testing a material that turns out to be less homogeneous than originally thought where a settling or distribution issue is present within the composite. This type of insight is easily missed when the samples are directed outside the organization with a directive to “just test the material”.
4. Payback Period Under 1 Year
The average cost to run a thermal conductivity test through a contract lab is $400 per sample. If you are testing 3-4 samples per week the payback period is typically under 7 – 12 months.
Bringing your thermal conductivity testing in-house allows you to better control the test environment in developing an understanding of what variables impact your product performance. We have to be careful about “what we don’t know – we don’t know”. Understanding variables of concern for testing a material sometimes take iterative experimentation and observation. A recent example in testing aerogel materials highlights the point. Aerogels are typically highly hygroscopic, the thermal conductivity of the material will vary with the amount of moisture absorbed from the environment. If you aren’t specifying the RH for the testing environment (or at least recording it) you are missing an important consideration to the performance of the material.
If you are leaving it to your material supplier to provide test results on their products for thermal conductivity – you are taking a risk in your material selection. How the materials are tested can significantly influence the reported performance. For example, thermal interface materials (TIMs) can have orders of magnitude difference in thermal conductivity based on how they are tested based on factors such as how much compressive load is exerted on the sample. If it really matters – test to verify.
For more information on the advantages of bringing thermal conductivity in-house please contact a subject-matter expert from C-Therm.
Still not ready to bring a system in-house? Check out our contract testing services at Thermal Analysis Labs.
About the Author
|Written by Jarett Nickerson, VP – Sales & Marketing at C-Therm.|