Enhancing thermal management in electronic devices | Diabatix

June 4, 2024
Sarah da Silva Andrade

Heat sink design is a critical aspect of thermal management in electronic devices. Conventional design cycles often lead to suboptimal solutions while generative design can explore a wide design space to find truly optimal solutions. In this blog post, we will examine how Diabatix's generative design approach can be used to optimize heat sinks.

Conventional vs. generative design cycles

In traditional design cycles, engineers typically focus on the functional design of the component and then consider thermal management as an afterthought. In most cases, this limits the cooling potential and thus results in suboptimal heat sink designs. In contrast, generative design approaches allow engineers to include thermal requirements early on in the design cycle and then explore thousands of viable concepts to find the best solution without being limited by the previous knowledge of the engineer.

Conventional vs. generative cooling design cycles

Overcoming heat sink optimization challenges

Optimizing heat sinks is challenging due to the large number of design parameters involved, such as material, surface area, and manufacturing constraints. ColdStream's unique unit cell approach reduces the problem to just a few variables, making it easier for the optimizer to find the optimal combination.

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TPMS heat sinks

Diabatix has recently introduced six new TPMS (Triply Periodic Minimal Surface) heat sink shapes: gyroid, schwarz, lidinoid, split, among others. These self-supporting structures can be optimized for various applications and manufacturing processes.

TPMS heat sinks

TPMS structures are characterized by their minimal volume and complex geometry, which provide several benefits:

  1. Enhanced thermal performance:
    • Low thermal resistance: The intricate design of TPMS structures allows for efficient heat dissipation, reducing thermal resistance and enhancing overall performance.
    • High surface area: Despite their minimal volume, TPMS structures offer a high surface area, which is crucial for effective heat transfer. This increased surface area allows for better interaction with the cooling medium, whether air or liquid.
  2. Structural integrity:
    • Self-supporting: TPMS shapes are inherently self-supporting, making them ideal for advanced manufacturing processes such as additive manufacturing (3D printing). This self-supporting nature ensures that the structures maintain their integrity during production and use.
    • Lightweight and strong: These structures provide an excellent balance between strength and weight. Their lightweight nature is particularly beneficial in industries where weight savings are critical, such as aerospace and automotive sectors.
TPMS heat sinks
  1. Design flexibility:
    • Customizable geometries: The flexibility of TPMS designs allows for customization to meet specific thermal and mechanical requirements. This adaptability ensures that the heat sinks can be tailored to the unique needs of various applications.
    • Scalability: TPMS structures can be scaled to different sizes without losing their beneficial properties, making them suitable for a wide range of electronic devices from small consumer electronics to large industrial systems.
  2. Manufacturing compatibility:
    • Additive manufacturing: The complex geometries of TPMS structures are best realized through additive manufacturing techniques, which can accurately reproduce the details required for optimal performance.

Case study: Intel 700 CPU Cooler

Diabatix optimized an off-the-shelf Intel CPU cooler by creating a custom design volume and applying objective functions and constraints.

  • Objective: To optimize the CPU cooler for uniform thermal distribution and minimal hot spots.
  • Methodology: The study compared traditional pin fin designs with innovative TPMS structures, focusing on fluid flow and thermal performance.
  • Findings: Custom designs driven by topology optimization showed significantly higher thermal uniformity and performance.
Gyroid heat sink for a CPU cooler


Diabatix's generative design approach, combined with advanced simulation capabilities and new TPMS heat sink shapes, offers a powerful solution for optimizing heat sinks in electronic devices. By exploring a wide design space and finding optimal solutions, engineers can push the boundaries of what's possible in thermal management.

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