Heatsinks are great. Not only do they serve an important purpose of keeping our electronics cool and safe, but they also have that extra edge where they’re all spikey and springy. Have you ever wondered how a heat sink is actually made? I’ve never had that until now, but now I’m very glad I know.
How do all those sharp fins come together? Are they glued together at the bottom? Squashed flat and then cut into shape, like shiny noodles? The answer is no, neither, it’s a process much more satisfying to watch.
This video, posted from a Korean account late last year (but shared this morning by rombik_su), shows the process called “skiving” in which a large piece of copper is laid out and this machine, which is very wet, simply cuts into it, as if a block of cheese was in front of it and burgers were being made.
Every time it cuts, it gives the freshly hewn piece a little nudge into a vertical position, and off you go. The main component of a heatsink, ready to cool.
As nice as this is to watch, it’s also kind of weird, given that it’s a process that looks more like a WWII production line than anything related to the manufacture of modern consumer electronics. Turns out all the cutting has its advantages:
…the shelling process also increases the roughness of the ribs. Unlike the underside of a heatsink, which must be smooth for maximum contact area with the heat source, the fins benefit from this roughness because it increases the surface area of the fins where heat can be dissipated into the air. The fins can be made much thinner and closer together than extrusion or formed sheet metal processes, which can provide greater heat transfer in high-performance water cooling blocks.
Now that I’ve spent my morning looking for other skiving videos on YouTube, I’ll leave you with another machine that cuts four heatsinks at once:
https://kotaku.com/heatsink-how-made-ps5-ps4-xbox-pc-factory-video-explain-1848791063 Please enjoy this comforting video showing how heatsinks are made