What Is a Thermal Adhesive?

Malcolm Tatum

Thermal adhesives are various types of adhesive or glue products that are formulated for use in the creation of electronic components and the assembly of heatsinks. This particular type of adhesive has the property of being able to allow the orderly transfer of heat, making it ideal as a means of creating secure paths on various types of computer components. With many applications, a thermal adhesive can be used to secure components to different types of computer boards without the necessity of using clamps or other devices to manage a secure fit.

A heatsink is the part of a computer designed to move heat away from a computer's central processing unit.
A heatsink is the part of a computer designed to move heat away from a computer's central processing unit.

One of the more common examples of how a thermal adhesive is used has to do with positioning a heatsink on a motherboard. By applying a small amount of the adhesive, it is possible to securely place the heatsink at the ideal position on the chipset of the motherboard. Once the adhesive sets, the heatsink will remain in place with no issues. Since the formulation of the thermal adhesive allows for heat transference with no interference, the efficiency of the motherboard or any of the attached components is not compromised in any fashion.

A similar application for thermal adhesives is found with the positioning of video card processors within the configuration of a computer device. Just as with the heatsinks, this adhesive makes it possible to securely affix the processors into position without the need of installing clamps or clips in the device. Along with providing a secure hold, using the adhesive also makes it possible to produce the equipment with fewer parts as well as to save the space that would otherwise be taken up by the clamp mechanisms. While the amount of space saved is relatively small, this does make it possible to use the space found within the computer casing to better advantage.

The major users of thermal adhesives are companies that manufacture electronic appliances and devices, and as well as businesses that produce the components that go into those devices. A number of companies that make thermal adhesive products also market lines that are geared toward individual use. Computer repair professionals can purchase the adhesive in smaller lots, often from stores that offer a wide range of electrical components and keep it on hand for use when refurbishing or repairing a damaged motherboard.

There are a number of manufacturers of thermal adhesive products. Most are formulated to require mixing before the actual use. This typically requires combining two different parts of the adhesive shortly before use, following the instructions outlined by the manufacturer. This process allows the thermal adhesive to maintain its quality and provide the most efficient bonding possible.

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