circuit board, design for assembly, heat transfer, scalable, thermoelement, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Neurosciences
This thesis documents the design, manufacturing, and assembly of a flexible thermoelectric device. Such a device has immediate use in haptics, medical, and athletic applications. The governing theory behind the device is explained and a one dimensional heat transfer model is developed to estimate performance. This model and consideration for the manufacturing and assembly possibilities are the drivers behind the decisions made in design choices. Once the design was finalized, manufacturing methods for the various components were explored. The system was created by etching copper patterns on a copper/polyimide laminate and screen printing solder paste onto the circuits. Thermoelectric elements were manually assembled. Several proof of concept prototypes were made to validate the approach. Development of the assembly process also involved proof of concept prototyping and partial assembly analysis. A full scale device was produced and tested to assess its thermoelectric behavior. The resulting performance was an interface temperature drop of 3 °C in 10 seconds with 1.5 A supplied, and a maximum temperature drop of 9.9 °C after 2 minutes with 2.5 A supplied. While the measured behavior fell short of predictions, it appears to be adequate for the intended purpose. The differences appear to be due to larger than expected thermal resistances between the device and the heat sinks and some possible degradation of the thermoelectric elements due to excess solder coating the edges.