Too many electronics design engineers don’t think thermal is a priority




Thermal runaway is no laughing matter

New research from the 6SigmaET team at Future Facilities, the leading thermal simulation tool provider, has found that 1 in 5 engineers confirm thermal issues are a common cause of expensive and time-consuming late stage design complications. Despite this, the survey of over 350 professional electronics engineers also revealed that 40% of engineers still consider thermal considerations to be a low priority in their current design process.

In fact, over a third of engineers agreed that thermal challenges are “irritations they could do without”. This attitude is surprising given the impact that inadequate thermal design can have on electronic devices. From consumer gadgets to industrial electronics, excess heat reduces performance, impacts reliability and literally makes devices too hot to handle. However, rather than focus on these factors, nearly two thirds of engineers claim it is easier to ‘over engineer’ the thermal aspects of their designs rather than use tools to optimise thermal performance.

These findings are detailed in The Heat is On, a new report published today by the 6SigmaET team. The report examines the challenges and priorities of current electronics design and highlights how thermal considerations are too often neglected – particularly early in the design process.

So while 37% of engineers believe that they should be spending more time on thermal management, 75% of designers admitted they don’t generally test a device’s thermal operation early enough in the design process. More than a quarter (27%) wait until after a design is complete before testing its thermal operation and 56% only test thermal design after a physical prototype has been produced. 13% of engineers don’t test the thermal performance of their designs at all. These issues are compounded by the fact that 40% of those surveyed said that they find thermal simulation too complex and time consuming.

Tom Gregory, Product Manager, 6SigmaET, commented: “Our new report provides a timely insight into the current attitudes to electronics design amongst engineers – but it is clear from the findings that best practice is not always being followed. While it is easy to dismiss thermal design as ‘low priority’, the truth is that considering thermal issues early on in the design process is essential for ensuring a product is right first time.

“While simulation is a common part of the design process, we believe it can be used far more extensively – particularly when it comes to thermal issues. And while many engineers highlight difficulties with thermal simulation, tools like 6SigmaET have been designed specifically to provide highly accurate, rapid simulation that is easy to use.”

Heat is On report