Additively Manufactured Heat Sinks for High Volume Consumer Electronics Applications

Established: June 1, 2015


In the Surface Book with Performance Base, non-uniform airflow exiting the system fans reduces thermal transfer to the air.

Traditional heat sinks with uniformly-spaced sheet metal fins cannot conform to this non-uniform air pattern, resulting in higher noise and less thermal transfer to the passing air. Additively Manufactured (AM) heat sinks can make a custom fin geometry that out-performs straight fins, but can the process be used in mass production?

Commercial laser powder bed fusion machines and software programs rely on rudimentary algorithms and generic build parameters, making a high-throughput manufacturing scenario unrealistic.

Microsoft optimized the part design, build parameters, and laser travel for maximum efficiency:

  • Thin walls built with a single laser pass
  • Minimized laser “off” time and “jump” time
  • Balanced laser power with speed, solidification
  • High density nesting, 1800+ parts per build
  • High material usage, no support structure
  • Minimal post processing

A heat sink made with default parameters would take an average of ~14 min, whereas the optimized version takes just 90 sec, a ~90% reduction. 60,000 parts were built to confirm repeatability, throughput, and cost in a mass-manufacturing scenario, confirming viability