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What is Thermal Simulation?

1. What is Thermal Simulation?

Thermal simulation is a computational technique used to predict and analyze the thermal behavior of systems, components, or structures under various thermal conditions, offering several benefits:

  • Prediction of Overheating: assess the risk of overheating and identify potential hotspots, this enables proactive measures to be taken to mitigate the risk and ensure integrity.
  • Temperature Prediction: predict the temperature distribution of a structure that may be inaccessible or impractical to measure in reality.
  • Virtual Environment Replication: replicate complex thermal environments virtually, which may be challenging or impossible to establish physically.


2. How to Conduct Thermal Simulation

Let’s take Thermal simulation of a heat sink*1 as an example and see how the simulation is conducted. In the pictures below, a linear regulator (an electronic component) is placed on a heat sink respectively.
*1 Heat sink: A heat exchanger which dissipates/exhausts heat generated by an electronic device.

First, create design data (CAD model) through CAD software, and import it into CAE software.

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Then, make a mesh model.

After creating a mesh model, define the following items:
(1) Thermal Properties – thermal conductivity, heat transfer coefficient, etc. (the ability to transfer heat, varies with materials)
(2) Thermal Loads – temperature, applied heat (W=J/s)

Define which heat transfer to analyze:
(A) Conduction – Heat transfer within a solid body or solid bodies
Thermal conduction, the transfer of heat from the hotter end to the colder end within a solid body or solid bodies (a structure), is analyzed. Heat deformation and its amount are quantified and represented in absolute value of displacement. The results of the calculation can be visually perceived using 3D data and mapping, aiding in determining thermal stress level, its location, and thermal distribution.

(B) Convection – Heat transfer between a solid substance and fluid
Thermal convection, the transfer of heat between a solid substance (a structure) and fluid (liquid/gas) which contacts surface of the solid substance, is analyzed. Heat transfer [or convection] is quantified as heat transfer coefficient and can be visually perceived using 3D data and mapping, aiding in determining the heat transfer between a solid substance (a structure) and fluid.

(C) Radiation – Heat transfer in the form of electromagnetic wave*2
Thermal radiation, the emission of heat in the form of electromagnetic wave from the hotter object to the colder object without any contact, is analyzed. The amount of thermal radiation is quantified which can be visually perceived using 3D data and mapping, aiding in determining the heat transfer in the form of electromagnetic wave.
*2 Electromagnetic wave: A wave that contains an electric field and a magnetic field propagating through space. Electric field and magnetic field emerge alternately and travel through space in waves. Energy of electromagnetic wave turns into heat when absorbed by an object, and an object with heat emits electromagnetic wave.

3. Design Using Thermal Simulation

Conducting Thermal simulation will enable you to determine temperatures of parts of a structure which are hard to measure, and to replicate an environment virtually which maybe difficult or impossible to create physically during testing stages. In addition, through simulation you can visualizes the flow of heat. This helps clarify the design requirements and the necessary airflow rate to mitigate overheating, ensuring it remains within its operating temperature.

Thermal simulation can determine not only changes in temperature, but also the changes in the dimension and thermal stress within the structure caused by heat transfer. In addition to these benefits, conducting simulations on a computer can reduce the number of prototypes and testing required, saving time and costs. This optimization of the design process makes computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis highly recommended.

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LINE SEIKI offers a series of CAE analysis services. Get in touch with us by calling +81-50-1741-6630, or by sending your valued inquiry through webform.

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