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Years prior, vapor chambers were considered an expensive and premium cooling option compared to regular heat pipes. However, with the rapid advancement in technology, vapor chambers have become far cheaper to manufacture and are now commonly used in a large variety of applications.


So what is a vapor chamber?


To put it simply, vapor chambers are planar or flat versions of heat pipes. Vapor chambers work in the same manner as heat pipes as they are vacuumed sealed containing a working fluid within for heat transfer.

How does it work?


When heat is applied, the working fluid travels to the other end of the vapor chamber where it converts into gas. During the conversion, the heat gets released often to an attached heatsink. After the heat is released, the gas reconverts back into a liquid and gets channeled back to the heat source via the wick structure in the vapor chamber. The working fluid can freely move within the vapor chamber via capillary action. This is due to its internal structure and grooves.


Why should we use vapor chambers?


There are three major reasons why we would want to use a vapor chamber.

  1. Allow more uniform and direct contact with the heat source due to its flat surface area.

"The direct contact allows better thermal conductivity, enabling a faster and much efficient rate of heat transfer."

2. Ability to be molded into any kind of shape and size depending on the application.


"Due to the internal structure and its source material, vapor chambers can be made from as small as 0.5mm up to the 1-meter length."


3. Heat can be transferred in any direction except if the heat source is on the top


"The internal structure of the vapor chamber, allows the working fluid to freely condense and move within the wick structure. Heat can then be transferred from hotter to cooler areas within the entire device. However, due to the low density of gas, heat cannot be transferred to the bottom of the vapor chamber from the topside"


How are aluminum vapor chambers better than regular copper heat pipes?


The vapor chamber is a better option compared to regular heat pipes because it has direct contact with the heat source and a large surface area to spread the heat. Vapor chambers can also be charged with refrigerant fluid. Although aluminum vapor chambers have lesser thermal conductivity compared to copper heat pipes, the refrigerant fluid does make up for the losses to a certain extent.


Compared to vapor chambers, heat pipes often have strict structures whereby a thin and lengthy shape has to be followed. Vapor chambers, on the other hand, can be constructed in virtually also any shape or size to fit into complicated environments and locations.





Where can the vapor chamber be applied?


Basically, in almost any kind of application.

  • Smartphones

  • Medical devices

  • Electric Vehicles

  • Aerospace

  • Data Centers

  • Power generators

Just to name a few.


For more info on how to apply a vapor to your specific thermal needs, contact us now at info@alvc.jp or through our contact page.


Previous article:

4 Eye-opening reasons why aluminum vapor chambers are better than copper vapor chambers





Updated: May 24

Currently, vapor chambers are being used in many wide-ranging applications from mobile phones, power generators, 5G data centers, and aerospace just to name a few. However, there's still a lack of clarity on what kind of vapor chamber best suits the application. Aluminum vapor chambers and copper vapor chambers are now the most common choices in the market. Depending on how you'd like to apply the vapor chamber, it should vary based on the application's thermal and spatial environment.


So, here's a short list as to why aluminum vapor chambers are better than their copper counterparts and how they can fit better depending on your desired application.


Aluminum materials in factory ready to be molded


1. Better Flexibility in shape & size

Aluminum is well-known for its flexibility and it is the 2nd most malleable metal on earth. Because of its bendable and moldable properties, vapor chambers made of aluminum are often seen in various sizes and shapes. Copper on the other hand is an extremely tough metal. Forming a large variety of shapes with copper is possible however, the process is much more difficult and requires more specified machining. Even then, the shapes produced are still limited.


In terms of thermal conductivity, aluminum is lower than copper. However, aluminum's flexibility in design and structure compensates for this drawback by allowing us to add refrigerant charging and internal groove.

If your thermal application requires an unusual size or shape, aluminum vapor chambers are the best way to go.


LEA's Aluminum Vapor Chamber Lineup

Pic: Various shapes and forms of vapor chambers can be molded into if it's made of aluminum.






2. Lower cost


Aluminum is readily available and due to its metal composition, it is much easier to mold and prepare as compared to copper. Copper has a much harder and bulkier metal composition, requiring larger and more sophisticated tools to cut and mold. These tools often cost more than aluminum molding tools.


Aluminum is the preferred choice if your application has a lower budget and a higher quantity of mass production.




3. Lightweight


Based on weight properties, copper is twice as heavy as aluminum due to its ductile strength. While that may be favorable for some heavy-weight applications, it has huge flaws when concerning the current trend towards lighter and smaller devices.


Since aluminum is much lighter than copper, aluminum vapor chambers are more favored when applying to mobile devices and transportation vehicles.



4. Ecofriendly


In terms of raw materials, aluminum is more readily recyclable as compared to copper. The reason being is copper has more than twice the melting point of aluminum. Thus, it would take twice the amount of energy to fully meltdown and fully recycle the copper.


Deciding on the right vapor chamber, whether aluminum or copper or even a mixture of both is an important step in deciding the best thermal management system.


Here at LEA, we pride ourselves on being able to serve you through our vapor chamber technology. If you'd like more details on the aluminum/copper vapor chambers and how they can meet your thermal needs, feel free to contact us at info@alvc.jp




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