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Automation of heat sink simulations
Efficient pre-development through fully automated flow simulations of heat sinks

Efficient pre-development through fully automated flow simulations of heat sinks

Sector: Electrical engineering/electronics, Energy supply, Machinery and plant engineeringSpecialist field: Fluid mechanics

An ELEKTRON heat sink is perfectly tailored to its application. The elements that are indispensable for industrial power electronics are “vital” and sometimes take on considerable sizes. The design is as unique as the areas of application. With a simulation app programmed by CADFEM, ELEKTRON AG is able to provide its customers with an optimal solution in half the time it used to take, without the need for extensive simulation knowledge.



ELEKTRON AG would like to rely more on simulation in the pre-development of heat sinks in the future in order to avoid expensive and lengthy prototypes. An easy-to-use app for geometry creation, meshing of the body and simulation including HTML report with 3D view is to be developed. All input data is processed based on Ansys Fluent as a reliable simulation software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD).


The CADFEM heat sink app provides answers as quickly as it does reliably. A clear and interactive Excel form serves as a graphic interface for the user. With the push of a button, the fully automatic calculation can be started in Ansys Workbench from the Excel form. Scripts for all steps of a simulation do almost all the work, meaning the user only has to interpret the simulation report displayed in the browser.

Customer benefits

“In close cooperation with CADFEM Suisse AG, we were able to automate the simulation process for forced heat sinks and halve the development time on average. The final construction of a single prototype is only used to verify that the virtual variant found by simulation is really optimal, which is validated by the customer. This saves an enormous amount of time and money.”  (Sascha Walker, ELEKTRON AG)

Project Details


ELEKTRON offers freely configurable heat sinks for power electronics according to customer requirements. These range from the dimensions of an A4 sheet of paper to the size of a Euro pallet and can be varied in terms of the distances and lengths of the cooling fins, as well as the base thickness and choice of material. In pre-development, different designs are examined not only in terms of their cooling performance and manufacturing costs, but also in terms of the available manufacturing technologies. Due to the large dimensions and high costs of prototype construction, this is only used for real verification of the optimal virtual variant already found by means of simulation. It should now be possible to carry out these same simulations using automated tools. ELEKTRON wanted an easy-to-use app with Excel as the user interface, in which geometry creation and the meshing of the body – required for the simulation calculation – take place automatically after entering the boundary conditions. The results should be output in an HTML report with a 3D view.

Customer Benefit

The efficiency of the solution was soon demonstrated in one of the first projects at ELEKTRON AG. The customer wanted to reduce the thermal resistance (Rth) of an existing heat sink by ten percent. To solve the customer’s requirement, Sascha Walker made three calculations using the CADFEM app: one for the previous heat sink design, with an Rth value of 16.4, then an extruded version, which proved useless with an Rth value of 19.7, and finally a laser-welded version, which yielded an Rth value of 14. From the 10% improvement in Rth value requested by the customer, ELEKTRON was able to present an optimized heat sink design with a 14% improvement. The customer’s expectation was clearly exceeded. Added to this success was the speed with which the optimization was carried out.


The CADFEM heat sink app provided a suitable answer. A clear and interactive Excel form allows the user to define the heat sink in terms of the number, length and width of the fins, the base plate and all the materials used. In the next step, the areas of the heat sources and their power are defined. Clicking on “Start” is the last action of the user, and the scripts for setting up the geometry, for structured meshing with the Workbench Mesher and for simulation setup, calculation and evaluation with Ansys Fluent are run through fully automatically. At the end, an HTML report opens in the browser with all information on boundary conditions and materials of the simulation, as well as all results. These also include the 3D contour plots, e.g., to evaluate the temperature distribution from all sides.

Images: © ELEKTRON

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