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Benchmarking of domestic thermal conductive material manufacturers from Beggs and Laird for 5G new track

Pulished on Jan. 01, 2020

The protagonist of 5G is far more "ferocious" than expected.

Zhao Yaping, who has just returned from Barcelona to participate in the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2019), told New Materials Online ® "Summary": "5G is almost everywhere!"

In her description, in the center of the MWC 2019 pavilion, the high-hanging 5G promotional signboard is particularly eye-catching. 5G industry chain-related exhibitors are all eager for 5G, and even some CEOs wear T-shirts with eye-catching 5G words.

"Too crazy!" The sales executive from a Shenzhen-based company specializing in EMC / Heat Conductive Materials issued such a sigh more than once.

The enthusiasm described by Zhao Yaping has been felt by Chinese people who have not arrived at the scene through domestic media. Especially after Huawei released the first 5G folding screen phone Huawei Mate X, people have many reasons to believe in the arrival of "the first year of 5G commercial use".

MWC 2019 is just a microcosm of the 5G phone boom. The competition of chip vendors, the development of operators, the grabbing of mobile phone manufacturers, and the expectations of consumers have spread to the world, and the arena of the 5G industry chain is becoming more and more lively.

Of course, as the key material upstream of the 5G industry chain, thermal conductivity materials will also usher in incremental demand under the 5G wave, and the market size is expected to open up new space.

This is supported by forecast data from BCC Research. Data show that the global market size of thermal interface materials will increase from US $ 800 million in 2015 to US $ 1.1 billion in 2020, with a compound growth rate of over 7%.

Everything seems to be moving in the direction expected. For Zhao Yaping and the entire heat-conducting material manufacturer, what they are currently concerned about is how to meet the new requirements for 5G mobile phones for heat-conducting materials, whether the current solutions are applicable, and how to do a good job before 5G mobile phones are launched on a large scale. Card battle.

"Critical" and "opportunity"

5G is a profound change in the mobile communications industry and a major opportunity for the development of thermally conductive materials.

In Shenzhen, Hong Fu-shielding materials Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Hong Fu") R & D Manager Xie Younan view, the change of the development of thermally conductive material and communication technologies are closely related.

Xie Younan said that in the 3G era, with the rise of the Internet, mobile phones have obvious heat dissipation requirements, and metal thermal conductive materials such as copper foil and aluminum foil have emerged as the times require; in the 4G era, the heat dissipation demand of mobile phones has increased significantly, which has led to the rapid development of graphite and other heat dissipation materials. ; 5G application scenarios are wider, and communication capabilities are more powerful, which will promote the rapid increase in demand for thermally conductive materials.

There are many factors driving the growth of demand for thermally conductive materials for 5G mobile phones. Industry insiders believe that the increase in chip power consumption and changes in the structure of the fuselage are the two main reasons.

Xie Younan pointed out that at present, the power consumption of 4G chips is about 1-2W, and the power consumption of 5G chips will reach 5-7W. According to laboratory data, each 0.5W increase in chip power will generate a lot of heat. It can be seen that the heat dissipation requirements brought by 5G chips are huge.

Digitimes has reported that Huawei's rotating chairman Xu Zhijun confirmed that Huawei's 5G chips will consume 2.5 times the power of current 4G chips.

The heat dissipation requirements brought by the structural changes of mobile phones are also great. With the increase in the number of 5G antennas and the weakening of electromagnetic wave penetration, the body material has evolved to non-metallic, which requires additional heat dissipation design. At the same time, the internal structure design of 5G mobile phones has become more compact, which has also increased the difficulty of designing thermal solutions.

Shenzhen-Rongda Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "FRD"), deputy general manager Wang salons in accepting new material Online ® interview, said, 5G band to improve, enhance and increase mobile phone integration capabilities have raised the demand for cooling Higher requirements.

New Materials Online ® compiled according to public information and found that the factors that drastically increase the demand for cooling of 5G mobile phones are various.

Data is the most intuitive manifestation. Such a large heat dissipation requirement not only poses new challenges for mobile phone design, but also directly drives the market growth space for thermally conductive materials.

This can also be clearly seen from the 2018 annual report released by Fei Rongda on the evening of February 26. The annual report shows that Fei Rongda's thermal conductive materials and devices had revenue of 179 million yuan in 2018, an increase of 22.15% year-on-year, accounting for 13.47%.

In an interview with the media, Fei Rongda's secretary Wang Yan said, "The 5G era has entered a new stage. The rapid development of the communications industry, mobile phone terminals, automotive electronics and data centers has a great demand for shielding and heat conduction."

Behind great demand lies a huge business opportunity. Whether you can grasp this business opportunity depends on whether you can see the future in advance.

"She" and "Stay"

5G mobile phones have higher requirements for thermally conductive materials. Which material solutions can meet these needs?

A domestic investor who has been concerned about thermally conductive materials for a long time told New Materials Online® : "This is a question that needs to be 'divided into two'."

From a technical point of view, the current mainstream development trend of 5G includes the Sub-6GHz (below 6GHz band) and millimeter-wave (mmWave, 30GHz-100GHz) high-band communications.

The investor stated that in the Sub-6GHz frequency band, which is the frequency band currently supported by 5G mobile phones, the heat dissipation solution is not much different from that of 4G mobile phones, but the demand for heat dissipation materials will increase greatly.

Xie Younan agreed with this: "Although there are many 5G mobile phones released at present, the actual market will not wait until the second half of the year. The first stage of the 5G mobile phone (Sub-6GHz frequency band) can continue to use the mainstream high-end mobile phone's cooling solution. It's the solution of 'multilayer graphite + heat pipe + gel'. "

This is basically the same as the Xiaomi Mi 9 product cooling plan of Xiaomi, product director of Xiaomi.

Xiaomi Mi 9 uses a fully CNC aluminum middle frame with high thermal conductivity as the main heat diffusion channel. At the same time, a metal sheet with a graphite sheet of almost the same area as the screen is attached. The planar thermal conductivity of the graphite sheet is metal aluminum. 6-8 times, thereby further improving the heat dissipation capacity of the whole machine.

Xiaomi Mi 9 also affixed a large area of graphite sheet to the inside of the antenna bracket, and filled the thermal conductive gel between the shield and the middle frame of the CPU and inside the shield of the CPU.

Other mobile phones have similar thermal solutions.

In the current iPhone XR / XS flagship model launched by Apple, in order to better dissipate the heat of the dual-layer motherboard, the front and back of the motherboard are affixed with very large graphite sheets for heat dissipation. Thermal grease for heat dissipation.

Huawei Honor Note 10 and Meizu 16 phones, in addition to a large number of graphite and other heat-dissipating materials, also adopted a liquid-cooled heat dissipation (heat pipe) solution; ZTE Axon 10 Pro uses a model of the total power consumption of the system corresponding to the surface temperature. Cold technology and phase change composites.

Wang Hairdressing also emphasized that the current cooling solution in the Sub-6GHz frequency band can basically meet the requirements, but because copper foil and graphite sheet are conductive, the application in some localities will be limited. In addition, as the internal structure design of 5G mobile phones becomes more compact, replacing multi-layer graphite with graphene films can not only reduce thickness, but also improve performance.

Millimeter wave has been hailed as a "sharp edge" to improve 5G performance, and using millimeter wave is regarded as one of the biggest breakthroughs in 5G technology. Current thermal solutions can meet the needs of the Sub-6GHz frequency band. Is millimeter wave also applicable?

An R & D engineer of Lenovo Research Institute said that the current heat dissipation solutions are integrated and optimized based on the existing thermally conductive materials. After millimeter waves, the heat dissipation challenges of mobile phones will be even greater, and no solution has yet been found.

Xie Younan also said frankly that whether a new thermally conductive material and heat dissipation solution can appear in the millimeter wave stage is inconclusive.

However, 5G has become a new racetrack for heat-conducting material manufacturers. In order to win this race, it is very important to check in advance.

Starting a card battle

The real competition for 5G phones has not yet begun.

Chang Cheng , the head of Lenovo's China mobile business , said that the 5G phones released by Chinese manufacturers in the first half of the year may be more of a gimmick for the Chinese market. Because 5G is divided into two standards, the first wave of products is mainly targeted at overseas markets, and China's 5G applications will follow the roadmap in the second half of this year.

However, for thermal conductive material companies, it is necessary to arrange and lock in advance.

In the words of the research and development engineer of Lenovo Research Institute: "The early stage of technology introduction is very important. Once the first-generation 5G mobile phone's cooling solution is confirmed, it will become the industry benchmark and will be copied on a large scale."

Domestic enterprises have targeted the huge market of 5G and started the card battle.

Fei Rongda is adopting the method of endogenous and extension to lay out 5G in all directions. In August 2018, Fei Rongda successively acquired the equity of Zhuhai Runxingtai and Kunshan Pinyu Electronics, perfecting comprehensive thermal solutions for heat conduction, heat dissipation and heat insulation, laying a solid foundation for the rapid development of 5G mobile phones and new energy vehicles in the future basis.

In the 5G era, technology is still needed. Wang Hairdressing revealed that in order to meet the demand for 5G mobile phones for thermally conductive materials, Fei Rongda is still conducting research and development of some thermally conductive interface materials with high thermal conductivity (8W / mk and above) and graphene thermal pads.

For 5G, Hongfucheng started its technology reserve three years ago, and is currently vigorously laying out thermal conductive materials and interface materials.

Xie Younan told the new materials Online ® : "Hong Fu through a special alignment technique, the array of thermally conductive filler, the thermal conductivity in order to achieve qualitative improvement, now in volume production 15w / mk and 25w / mk flexible thermal pads being developed 35. ~ 50w / mk flexible thermal pads. In terms of heat sink components, Hong Fucheng also has technical reserves, and can mass-produce the most advanced ultra-thin heat dissipation materials at large scale at any time. "

Zhongshi Technology is also responding to the heat dissipation needs of 5G terminals. After the capacity expansion through IPO fundraising, China Stone Technology will increase the annual production capacity of 648,000 square meters of thermally conductive graphite materials, 480,000 square meters of thermally conductive polymer materials, and 6 million square meters of electromagnetic shielding materials.

At the same time that domestic companies are seizing the card slots, 5G also provides an opportunity for domestic manufacturers to change from "following" to "running".

Due to the late start of the domestic thermal conductive material field, the international market of thermal conductive materials has been monopolized by European and American and Japanese companies such as Rogers, Bergs, Laird, and Panasonic.

"With the cost advantage, domestic thermal conductive material companies still have great opportunities in the 5G era." Said the R & D engineer of Lenovo Research Institute .

After hearing this sentence, Zhao Yaping felt a little more confident, and felt that the 5G grand occasion presented at MWC 2019 had a lot to do with himself. (Text / well Kaiyuan)

(At the request of the interviewer, Zhao Yaping in the text is a pseudonym)

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