A meeting with Andy Shaughnessy in the exhibition halls of Productronica in Munich concluded last year's marketing activities. Andy is the editor of several electronics magazines. Promoted by Doug Brooks we had a pleasant afternoon and talked about electronics in general and thermals in particular. You can read about our conversation under: Recent Articles. There is also a link to the magazine.
Another highlight last year was a visit to R&D Tech Co. in Seoul, Republic of Korea. That was in July, which doesn't seem to be the best time to travel because of the unbelievable heat. But it was very interesting and impressive. I look back with gratitude at the hospitality and the good times we had.
What will 2018 bring? Certainly one or two updates of TRM and new findings. The show must go on!
TRM has proven itself over the last 7 years in many electronics companies. It is really quick and easy to set up an electro-thermal simulation model of a printed circuit board. Gerber and drill files are imported, data about the position of the pads or pins and their current values are added and the current carrying capacity, voltage drop and temperature can be calculated. Even without design files you can get interesting insights. This is the perfect stand-alone solution for a developer who needs fast results without overhead and without waiting for colleagues to work together.
But there are the large teams that work simultaneously on the printed circuit board under different aspects or outside departments that have to check functions and feasibility. For such development environments there is now a complementary offer based on ODB++. The Schindler and Schill GmbH and ADAM Research founded a joint venture at the beginning of 2017 called ADAM Labs GmbH. This includes: the CAM and DRC tool PCB-Investigator (sometimes known as EasyLogix) and know-how of TRM.
The new product is called PCB- I Physics. We started with the reimplementation of the stationary DC and power solution, not only on CPU, but also on GPU in CUDA. With a good graphics card, the speed gain is enormous. The release is as good as in the roll-out stage. Find out more under http://www.adam-labs.de or send a Message with the keyword "Physics". More TRM features and more will be added over the years.
The tools complement each other! Each meets different demands and there is no reason not to use both.
Recently some evaluation users were asking whether Gerber files are required for fundamental heat spreading studies in a printed board. No, they aren't! TRM allows to created traces, planes and circles in the graphics window of the component table. Add the proper material and vertical position within the layer stack and all is done. Adding heat sources or currents is the same procedure. Drill areas can be blocks penetrating several layers parametrized by their effective conductivity. I did some experiments imitating the JEDEC-51 2s2ps test boards and it works (with assumptions).
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In November 2014 Douglas Brooks from UltraCAD Inc. (Kirkland, WA) chose TRM to investigate some thermal issues that attracted him since years. Before that he couldn't find the right tool, precise enough and easy to use, to do it. Meanwhile he became an enthustiastic TRM user and reported about his new experience in many articles and a book.
Now his latest summary is available: "Exiting New Technology: Thermal Risk Maganagament." The PCB Design Magazine (Feb 2017).
Please read from here: Link
Accidentally this week and last week I did some non-standard thermal simulations with through-hole pins by imitating hot solder solder wave underneath the PCB. Of course a mere thermal simualtion can only look at heat spreading in detail but cannot cover metallurgical or fabrication aspects. Nevertheless, the results gave a correct agreement of positions of the problematic pins (and those without problems) compared to the solder wave result. Among other effects it showed that local copper around a solder pin can help heat to flow toward the pin rather than flowing away from it. But all that depends on details of the layout in the bottom layer and maybe in other layers as well, the mass of the component, how the flux is dispensed and many more influencing parameters. A numerical investigation can help to reduce the number of prototypes.
Copper got more expensive. The price for a ton of copper was jumping from 4800$ to 5800 $ at London Metal Exchange end of october 2016.
Temperature simulations with TRM uncover paths how you can design printed boards more cost effective, tailored to specific environmental conditions and applications. Do you want to pay for surplus copper?
Through the years, the impact of right-angle corners on printed circuit board (PCB) traces has been a hot topic. As early as the 1990s, some were arguing strongly against the use of 90˚ corners, using mitered corners instead. How do TRM simulations and experiments come together?
Read more in our collaboration: Thermal Effects around Right-Angle Trace Corners
In the past I was asked several times about AC on boards and its consequences due to electro-magnetic induction. How does an alternating current change trace heating and how does it influence the traces around? Plenty of approximating formulae on skin and proximity effect for simplified geometries can be found in literature. For traces in boards it is better to solve Maxwell's equations directly.
Over Christmas and New Year there is some time to play with. A test code gives good results for classic test cases. What has to be done now is to define industrial use cases and to solve them.
Call for Action: If you work with AC in printed boards and want to contribute, please leave a message in the comment field below.
ADAM Research and partners wish you a happy holiday season and a new year filled with peace and prosperity
(This picture is simulated heat conduction by TRM with some artistic effects added in ppt.)