imec, a Belgian electronics and technology company, recently announced that it had successfully created an innovative new solution for the cooling of chips in electronics by replicating an existing class of cooling mechanisms using 3D printing. The cooling devices the company has made achieve efficient cooling for advanced electronics at a reasonable cost.

 

These new devices are comparable to shower heads, effectively spraying a liquid coolant onto the surface of a chip on a regular basis in order to absorb and disperse heat. With this kind of cooling capability, electronics that would normally overheat can be kept within their proper operating parameters. Though many different methods exist for cooling down electronic chips, most of them rely on heat-transferring materials attached to the back of the chips themselves. These systems, though effective for most common electronics, are not fully suited to the needs of advanced and high-performance chips, which tend to generate more heat.

 

Although this kind of liquid delivery cooling system already existed, imec’s great achievement was making it affordable by using 3D printing technology. Up to now, the cooling devices used in this kind of system have been made of silicon and have been quite expensive. imec, however, succeeded in creating equivalent devices out of polymers using high-precision additive manufacturing. The result is a chip cooling device that is roughly as effective as one of its silicon counterparts while being considerably cheaper and easier to manufacture.

 

As imec and many other firms have learned through research such as this, 3D printing has the ability to not only create entirely new products but also to improve existing ones. 3D printing applications such as this one are gradually revolutionizing the manufacturing of everything from electronic components to machine parts. To be effective in the workforce of the future, today’s students need to become familiar with 3D printing devices and techniques in their schools.