Crucial Considerations for Building Flexible Heaters


Reading time ( words)

Introduction

An electronic heater is created by driving electric current through a resistive element. As the current is drawn through the element, some of the energy is expelled as heat. That heat can then be transferred to other surfaces with positive effects. It is a convenient way to keep components above damaging temperatures or to heat surfaces to a specified temperature and keep them there. Some of the first heaters were simple nickel-chromium wires attached to a power source and wrapped around a mass to transfer heat. This is effective, but not practical in all applications. Heaters that are designed on flexible material can be attached to flat surfaces, equipped with temperature sensing devices, and monitored constantly so that adjustments are possible as the ambient surroundings change. Two types of flexible heater material are common: silicon rubber and polyimide. This article will focus on flexible polyimide heaters.

Common Uses

Flexible heaters are used to keep components, typically microprocessors, at a consistent temperature in devices that are exposed to conditions that have varying temperatures. They are used to heat surfaces as well. For instance, the seat or steering wheel in your car. Biological samples are sometimes better analyzed at the typical body temperature for a human or animal. Batteries and electronics in aircraft that must operate normally at 30,000 feet above the earth are kept warm with flexible heaters.

Handheld electronics as well as ATMs that must operate accurately in cold climates will use flexible heaters to keep critical components in the specified temperature range. The uses are not trivial and one may say critical in many applications. No matter the product or what function it provides, flexible heaters are an important element in the electronics industry.

Design Criteria

For a flexible heater to be designed accurately, we must first understand several things:

  1. The material to be heated
  2. The temperature range of the product’s surroundings
  3. How fast the heat must be transferred to  the material

To read the full version of this article which appeared in the March 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.

Share

Print


Suggested Items

PC Technological Advances in 2020

11/24/2020 | Dan Feinberg, I-Connect007
With CES quickly approaching, which is perhaps the largest technology event globally that is also going virtual this year, key component and sub-assembly companies are not waiting to announce their next generation of components. Dan Feinberg details new components and performance advances, as well as why you should consider building your own PC.

Promoting a Circular Economy in Electronics Manufacturing

09/03/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
The sixth international Electronics Goes Green Conference was held as an online virtual. Pete Starkey provides a recap of the event, which provided insight into innovative eco-design and extended reliability from the perspective of iNEMI’s roadmap.

TTM on Flex and Rigid-flex PCB Challenges

03/20/2019 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
One of the biggest bareboard manufacturers in the world, TTM Technologies has seen a recent surge in flex and rigid-flex demands from their customers. In this interview, Clay Zha, Vice President of Technology Solutions of TTM’s Mobility business unit, and VP of Corporate Marketing Winnie Ng discuss the differences in manufacturing flex versus traditional PCBs, and the increasing need for rigid-flex HDI boards.



Copyright © 2020 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.