any way to remove thermal adhesive?

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is there any save way to remove a heatsink glued on with Arctic Alumina
Thermal Adhesive without breaking anything?


Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

Beverly wrote:
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     Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive is a permanent adhesive.
     Any components you attach together with Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive
     will stay attached forever."

The MSDS is here, but it doesn't state the chemicals in enough details.
(I.e. Liquid plastic.) The word "epoxy" appears here though, even if you
could not guess as much.

"Ask-a-scientist - Dissolving Epoxy"

    "Question -   What type of solvants can be used to dissolve epoxy
                  after it has completely cured?
     The short answer is almost none. Fully cured epoxy is one of the most
     solvent polymer systems known. It can be softened by very strong, but
     difficult to handle, solvents like dimethylformamide, but because of its
     high [essentially infinite] molecular weight and inherent chemical
     resistance it is practically not removable by chemical means."

I think the word "resistant" should have appeared between "solvent" and

Dimethylformamide is not exactly nice stuff.

Also, the composition of the packaging of some electronics devices, may
involve epoxies or plastics as well. So even if there was a solvent
suited to the job, chances are it would ruin other stuff it came in
contact with.

If you were thinking of attacking it with heat or cold, that will also
stress the device underneath.

So the epoxy is too similar to other electronics, to make it
easy to attack.

They weren't kidding when they said it was permanent!


Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

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Blimey...and people *choose* to use that? Does it really offer much benefit?
Or is it designed for more discrete electronic applications?


Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

John Whitworth wrote:
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That is the strange thing about that thermal epoxy. On the one hand,
if offers a way to permanently attach a heatsink to an electronic
device. On the other hand, it offers no method of rework. So if
the electronic device needs to be removed for repair, it will
complicate matters (hard to fit standard hot air desoldering tools,
when a heatsink is in the way).

I think our thermal designer at work, decided that rather than use that,
he used adhesive thermal pads instead. And placed a mass limit on
heat sink usage. Say, no more than 50 grams for something the size of
35mm x 35mm or so. They can be removed if a board needs repair work.

I have read of one case here, where someone used thermal epoxy, put
their heatsink on crooked (not seated the way they wanted), and it
bonded in place crooked. You have limited options when that happens.
If you apply mechanical force, it just rips the top surface off
the IC. Best to practice fitting the thing first a few times, so
you get good at getting it just right.

A place you might be tempted to use it, is on one of those video card
kits. The kind of kit that provides "RAM Sinks". Thermal epoxy would
certainly be more secure, than the adhesives that accompany the RAM sinks.
But then, if you ever need to return the video card under warranty,
you cannot remove the RAM sinks and put back the original cooler.
If the warranty has expired, then the epoxy might be more secure.
And having a RAM sink fall off and short something, is also a


Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

Somewhere on teh intarweb "Paul" typed:
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There used to be a regular poster here, can't remember who now, who used to
use a mix of regular thermal compound and thermal epoxy. He said that, after
experimentation, he got the proportions right so that it bonded quite
strongly, conducted heat far better than a sticky pad but would break off if
needed. I seem to remember him saying he'd practiced mixtures a bit until he
got it right.

Can't remember who it was though. Nick Salmon maybe? Someone from a few
years back.


Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

~misfit~ wrote:

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That's a good point. There is nothing preventing you from
diluting the epoxy component with something else, to change
the mechanical properties.


Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

Somewhere on teh intarweb "Paul" typed:
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I wish I could take the credit. Seems all I can take credit for is a good
memory. ;-)

The post is here:

Newsgroups: alt.comp.hardware.overclocking
Subject: Re: Can Ya get Arctic epoxy off?
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 09:50:34 +0000 (UTC)
Mix in 30% of thermal compound - Artic Silver recommend using their own AS
of course but I've used ordinary Servisol a couple times when I was running
low on AS & it still sets okay.  It sets quite a lot slower (20 mins instead
of 5 before it really 'grips') and never goes as hard but it sticks well
enough & you can remove anything stuck on with it.  I'd test a tiny mix
first to check it will go hard enough though.  If you use full strength AS
Epoxy then it will be _permanent_..!

[UK]_Nick...I wonder what Nick's up to these days? He used to post here
regularly. Nice chap, very knowledgeable.-- Shaun.

Re: any way to remove thermal adhesive?

'Beverly' wrote:
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It depends.  Mostly on the parts that are epoxied together (how much stress
can the parts withstand without damage, i.e. 500 F hot air from a heat gun.
Secondarily on how well the two epoxy components were mixed and thus the
quality of the bond.  And on whether removal is less work and expense than
just replacing the glued parts.  Without additional information from you,
the best answer is somewhere between NO and MAYBE.

Phil Weldon

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