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Evaluating heat in vehicles' instrument panels

Posted: 17 Mar 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:instrument cluster  PCB  LEDs  TFT  CFD model 

There is a fairly high temperature distribution on the components along with recirculation zones in the cluster, highlighting issues with the airflow distribution (table 2).

This venting pattern does not provide effective airflow movement inside the cluster to cool the PCB efficiently. As a result, the venting pattern was modified in the CFD model to add openings and also make them slightly wider.

This design change can be easily implemented using sketches that are then extruded to remove material from the housing. The results of this design modification are displayed in figure 8, emphasizing that the airflow distribution was improved and allowing components to operate at a lower temperature. The PCB temperature decreased accordingly.

Table 2: Results of the thermal analysis.

1. Visteon designs, engineers, and manufactures vehicle cockpit electronics products and connected car solutions. Headquarted in Michigan, Visteon employs 11,000 people around the world who are dedicated to applying their talent, technology, and global resources to transforming the vehicle cockpit electronics experience (
2. Gustafson, S., (2013), "Detailed PCB Design for Thermal Management of an Instrument Cluster," IESF Conference, Dearborn, Michigan.

About the author
Alexandra Francois-Saint-Cyr, based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, is the applications engineering manager for North America at Mentor Graphics, Mechanical Analysis Division. For the past 15 years, she has been working with many customers in the automotive, aerospace, and electronics industries to promote the use of the Mentor computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software by conducting seminars, as well as providing consulting services and software demonstrations. Alexandra holds a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and is currently studying part time to receive a MBA from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI—May 2017).

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