We needed a heat sink for a TEC1-12706 Peltier module. We made one by breaking a transformer and attaching each plate onto an aluminum plate. Do you think this will work?

Heat sink


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  • \$\begingroup\$ Amount of heat required to be dumped? Area of the heatsink? Crystal ball? \$\endgroup\$ – replete May 30 '17 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like you attached the transformer core plates to the aluminum using some kind of glue, which probably means that heat transfer between them is poor. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed May 30 '17 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ The steel fins have poor heat conductivity. A better option would be to use an old aluminium CPU cooler. \$\endgroup\$ – kva May 30 '17 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ If what you're aiming for is a 'prop' to be used in a low-budget sci-fi movie, then yes, this might work (if its in the background and blurry). If you're intending it to actually help with any kind of heat dissipation, then no - this would be just plain awful. \$\endgroup\$ – brhans May 30 '17 at 17:57

It's better than nothing. But not good. Keep in mind the materials and the geometry. The aluminum piece has high thermal conductivity but it looks like you have a very thin piece of it, so so it won't spread the heat well. So the conductivity (material characteristic) is good but the geometry is not good.

If you used glue to attach the 'fins', the glue is a huge thermal resistance so your fins will not receive much of the heat (there will be an unacceptably large temperature drop between the plate and the fins). That's because glue has much lower thermal conductivity than metals, even though there isn't much of it, it will be bad.

The fins are made of steel. Steel has relatively poor thermal conductivity and the fins are thin so they won't work well. Working in their favor is that there are a lot of them but that's not enough.

So even though you've made something that sort of looks like a good heatsink, it is not.

I suggest you get ahold of a CPU cooler as @kva suggests- many of them can deal with power levels in the 100W+ range (which is your requirement) and still keep the semiconductor cool (with their fan(s) running). Add a thick (say 6mm) aluminum or copper heat spreader if the CPU cooler does not cover the Peltier. And use thermal compound between the Peltier and the heat spreader and the heat spreader and the cooler. You will need some way to keep pressure between the bits without damaging the Peltier. The parts must be flat so that the gap between them is small (and the tiny gap is filled by heatsink compound).

Earlier CPUs were supplied by Intel with a 'stock' cooler that most people removed in favor of something better so you may even have something kicking around.

Ideally, and for very high power levels, the parts will be machined very flat and perhaps even lapped to get the most intimate contact possible.

An optimal design of heatsink will have extra material where more heat is flowing and less material in other places, so that the total amount of material is minimized for a given performance. As an example, see the below where the heatsink fins are longer in the middle. You'll often see the base material thicker in the middle too.

enter image description here

Unfortunately, this is a 'fake' heatsink made from molded ABS plastic and is strictly ornamental (it actually does more harm than good by insulating the sides of the metal box it was attached to).


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