January 5

ANSYS Icepak: Everything to Know

ANSYS Icepak: Everything to Know

Sohaib Alam

ANSYS Icepak – the powerful technology for electronics thermal management

Modern electronic devices have smaller footprints and have power requirements that demand excellent thermal designs. Components that tend to overheat underuse degrade the reliability of the product resulting in costly redesigns and product breakdowns. To ensure and maintain enough cooling of the integrated circuits packaging, PCBs, and other electronic systems, engineers rely on ANSYS Icepak to validate their designs and products long before the actual product manufacturing takes place.

Table of Contents (click for easy navigation)

What is ANSYS Icepak?

ANSYS Icepak is a powerful electronic cooling solution that utilizes the industry-leading ANSYS Fluent CFD capabilities for fluid flow and thermal analyses of the PCBs, ICs and other related electronic assemblies. The ANSYS Icepak CFD solver incorporates ANSYS Electronics Desktop (AEDT) GUI which provides the users with CAD-centric solutions for the design and testing engineers who can make use of the easy-to-use ribbon interface. This allows them to manage their designs and product thermal issues within the same unified framework as the ANSYS HFSS, ANSYS Q3D, and ANSYS Maxwell. 

ANSYS Icepak

ANSYS Icepak also allows the engineers to rely directly on their solver for integrated electronic cooling solutions of the electronic applications ranging from simple integrated circuits to vast packages to entire data centers. ANSYS Icepak solver has the capacity to solve issues using heat conduction, convection, and radiation heat transfer analysis. Icepak also includes other advanced capabilities such as modeling laminar and turbulent flows, predicting design performance under stress and has a huge library of heatsinks, fans, and other related materials to make solutions to everyday electronic cooling concerns. 

What is ANSYS Icepak capable of?

ANSYS Icepak is capable of many different designs and features previously which were deemed hard to simulate in the electronic cooling spectrum. With ANSYS Icepak, the user can simulate, predict, and virtually work over any type of electronic equipment out there in the market or underproduction phase. 

Extensive Libraries for thermal physics

ANSYS Icepak comes packed with an extensive collection of useful materials that can be easily assigned to different solids, fluids, and surfaces. Icepak offers a smooth and streamlined electrothermal CAD-centric approach to its interface, which results in native ANSYS users to easily use Icepak without much of a hassle. The built-in CAD geometry healing functions and geometry cleanup options along with many other different editing options facilitate the easy simulation setup and analysis. A vast commercial library complementing the unique designs and features of Icepak allows the designers to solve thermal problems at their fingertips.

A convenient slider bar meshing

ANSYS Icepak has built-in automated mesh generation capabilities that allow the users to customize their meshing parameters with a convenient slider bar. This allows the users to refine the mesh and optimize the trade-offs between the solution accuracy and the computational cost. The slider bar meshing further allows the user to fine mesh their designs where the velocity and temperature gradients are high while having a coarser mesh where these gradients are small. This allows the users to significantly lower the computation time and work closely on the areas in the design which matters to the thermal properties of the proposed design. 

Fine meshing nearer to heat sink region
Fine meshing nearer to heat sink region

In-depth visualization

ANSYS Icepak contains a full suite of quantitative and qualitative post-processing tools to generate full-scale animation, meaningful graphics, and in-depth reports that can readily convey the simulations results to others. Icepak can easily simulate temperature contours, fluid-particle traces, iso-surfaces, velocity vectors, iso-surface displays, x-y plots of the results, and many other visualization features. Customized reports, along with images, can automatically be created for distributing results, interpreting the trends as well as to report the blower and fan operation points. 

Multi-domain system modeling

ANSYS Icepak uses simpler, which itself is a powerful platform for modeling, simulation and analyzing system-level digital prototypes that are integrated into a wide array of different ANSYS systems such as Maxwell, HFSS, Slave, and Q3D Extractor. With Simplorer being a multi-domain system modeling platform, the users can easily work between the ANSYS ecosystem without compromising the usability or accuracy of the software or their designs. Simplorer is said to be ideal for electric designs, conversion, power generation, storage, and distribution as well as EMI/EMC studies. 

DELPHI extraction

ANSYS Icepak has the capability to automatically extract an optimized and improved DELPHI thermal network model for different boundary condition scenarios from an Icepak condition scenario in a detailed package model. The user can easily include the improved DELPHI model in a system- or board-level simulation. This allows the users to easily predict the component junction temperatures that are not a direct function of the boundary condition.

How to carry out Thermal Stress Analysis via ANSYS Icepak

To show you how to carry out the Thermal Stress Analysis using ANSYS Icepak, we will take an example of a heat sink. The following is the sample geometry used.

Sample geometry with a heatsink, transformer, and other electrical components
Sample geometry with a heatsink, transformer, and other electrical components

As seen in the sample geometry, there exist other components as well, along with the heat sink. Since our focus region is only the heat sink, we will use the simplify operation to transform the heat sink body into a valid Icepak object. To do so, follow the steps shown in the image below. The heat sink is identified as a polygonal Icepak block. 

Heatsink – the area of focus in the sample geometry
Heatsink – the area of focus in the sample geometry
Tools>electronics>simplify
Tools>electronics>simplify

For the CAD bodies in your design or as in the case of the sample geometry, to maintain their true shape, use the simplify operation with the simplification type set to level 3. Doing so will result in the body to be designated as a CAD shape in the Icepak solver. The user can then set the Facet quality to determine the accuracy of the geometric representation in Icepak. 

For the remainder of the objects, that are objects except for the heatsink and the transformer of the sample geometry, set the Icepak object type for them as well. To do so, select the chips and board bodies via the tools command and select the Icepak object type. Under the detail pane, set the Icepak object type to block. 

After all the bodies have been set to Icepak objects, verify your designations by selecting “show ice bodies” in the electronics submenu.

After all the objects are labeled and verified, return to the project page and link the DM cell to a new Icepak component system and then transfer the system. 

ANSYS-Icepak
ANSYS-Icepak
ANSYS-Icepak

After all the designs and parameters are set for the Icepak system and the meshing is done as per requirement, you can then link the analysis systems together. The user can use the mesh slider to have a finer mesh near the heatsink region and a coarser mesh around other regions. The systems can be linked as per user requirements. 

After all the systems are linked together, the user can then import the thermal load from the Icepak body. After the thermal loads are imported and set, the user can preview the thermal loads as shown in the image below. Note how the heat generation components have the highest thermal energy whereas, the heatsink has the lowest. This shows that the heatsink works as it should as it is one of the coolest parts of the system, on the other hand, the heat experienced by the electronic components is also contained and under operation limits. 

Body temperature contours
Body temperature contours

Along with many other functions and capabilities, the user can also see the total deformation of the system. To do so, the user can apply the structural boundaries on the system and then solve the system. The user must fix the four bottom corners of the board so that the results generated are reliable and usable.

Total deformation contours
Total deformation contours

In conclusion

ANSYS Icepak delivers a powerful technology for electronics thermal management. It offers simulation to high-performance electronics cooling problems and solves challenges efficiently in this rapidly evolving industry. For many companies out there, ANSYS Icepak has provided an accurate and quite tool for the thermal management analysis and design of their product. Icepak has opened simulation capabilities that were previously untapped, and before this solver, designers had a hard time predicting the thermal management of small electrical components. ANSYS Icepak combined with its extensive library and easy to use interface is the revolutionary solver that has helped many companies globally and will continue to aid in the manufacturing of excellent thermally managed electrical equipment.

References

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About the Author

Sohaib Alam is an Undergraduate at the University of Sunderland specializing in Mechanical Engineering. Sohaib specializes in Physics among many other engineering subject matter. He focuses his writing on ANSYS and AutoCAD Inventor.

Sohaib Alam

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