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Posted · Original PosterOP

Alright guys, you know the drill. 

I post a dumb, ridiculous question that has probably been answered and then I feel like a fool, but here's another "is this a thing", er, thing.

 

Can you use a soldering iron (like a larger one) or some type of soldering method I guess, to connect multiple pieces of copper and stuff together? 

Basically, can you solder stuff like laptop heat pipes, small fin assemblies (likely connected to those wimpy pipes, maybe a fan), to make a larger heat sink? 

 

I would take the aforementioned laptop heat pipes and solder them to a small block of copper cut to a decent size to cover the cpu (if cannibalizing a gpu air heat sink wasn't possible) and just SOMEHOW getting it all together. Even if it was ugly, I don't care. It's all for shiggles and gets to me. I wouldn't try to mount it to a laptop or am trying to improve a laptops thermals/performance. I just wanna mod me up a heat sink for the hell of it, maybe create a rad heat sink that could maybe later be upgraded with water cooling for a custom pc; custom sound dampened enclosure, just a sweet custom rig. 

 

I couldn't find really anything on this topic, or know how to google it best. I doubt using torch solder for connecting pipes would work, would damage the components. I thought maybe you could connect flat surfaces and "weld" a nice rim around the two pieces, basically weld it together best you can and hope the heat transfers well. I don't think the solder would soften during heavy loads and disconnect or whatever. And with a good, powerful soldering iron you wouldn't have to heat the metal I would think. I don't know obviously, about any of this stuff. So any friendly advice or knowledge would be awesome! 

 

Also before I end the post, I can post pictures of some hardware I had thoughts of connecting together, or pictures of stuff I think would work well; I guess now that I think about it, this question gets more and more into is custom air cooling possible? I've seen videos by people like DIY Perks that make me inspired to try stuff, so I've been dismantling decommissioned gear, mostly a couple computers in hopes to use them in a future project. I think a custom cooler would be fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS. I just want to reiterate I know this is a terrible idea and wouldn't use this on my main computer, I figure it must be too hard or not possible seeing no posts on it so maybe it's common sense it is out of reach but I'm hoping someone knows whether it is safe and possible to try it. Thanks!

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11 minutes ago, Fumferknuckle said:

-SNIP-

It would need to be an extremely high wattage iron with a lot of thermal mass, you don't want to be slowly heating up a heatpipe since your basically creating a bomb if it were to blow out. It's also the reason it's more common to see heatpipes not soldered onto a block but most cases swaged in place or with interference fits like in the fin array.

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tig welding might be the option here... 


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You must get the metal hot, or the solder won't bond to it. I've never soldered a heat pipe, but I have built coolers with lots of fins, and modified pc boards. I used "soldering heatsinks"  that are designed to draw the heat away to protect other circuitry and/or components. You might try that method.They're a lot cheaper, better, and easier to find now than when I used to play around with such things.

I think you're better off just clamping them with some type of bracket that provides plenty of surface contact. That's typically how it's done by manufacturers. I'm sure they would spot weld, or robotically solder them if it was a viable solution, as that would be much cheaper for them to do.

If you're going to try it, make sure you're wearing protective gear, like eye protection. :S


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When you're soldering two surfaces, there's a chemical reaction between the base metal and the actual solder, atoms of solder combine with the metal creating the joint.

In order to create the solder, both surfaces must be hot (the melting point of solder, 180c for generic 60/40 leaded solder, 183c for 63/37 leaded solder and 217c for unleaded solder) but the hotter a surface is the faster you get oxides and junk on the surface, which will block the chemical reaction between the metal and solder.

That's why solders have fluxes inside, acids which will attack and corrode the oxides and crap on the surface of the metals and pushing it away from the point where you solder. However, on such large surfaces like a heatsink, you have to pump so much heat into the heatsink and there so much time required to bring the metal of the heatsink to temperature and then such a long/wide solder "line" that fluxes inside solders wouldn't have time to work, they'd evaporate too fast.

Some soldering irons use some additional gasses that are pumped and blow over the tip in order to remove the oxygen from the place where the solder joint is created, and create a better solder joint .. see for example nitrogen gas http://www.hakko.com/english/n2system/mechanism.html

But to solder something to a heatsink, you'd basically need some kind of sealed box, fill that with gas or something to replace the air and prevent oxidation of surfaces, then bring the heatsink to soldering temperature, then quickly apply some liquid flux to remove existing oxides and then quickly solder.

 

It's difficult, so it's just easier to weld things .. that's why fins are welded to heatpipes on coolers, or why fins are welded to vapor chambers.

 

Another option would be to just get a nice block of aluminum or copper and use machines to cut holes or thin out portions of the block (to make room for taller components on the back of the laptop), basically make yourself a backplate. You can use very thin thermal pads / sheets to help transfer heat from some chips to your new backplate, and you could also modify the existing cooler of your cpu to drill some holes in it and then make holes in your backplate, then you could just screw the backplate to the cpu cooler and heat from the cpu cooler would transfer through the back plate. 

You could basically replace the whole back of your laptop with a thin aluminum back panel ... others use magnesium because it's lighter (but i think it's heavier to work with it and shape it to your desired form)

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Man, I posted late in the morning and you guys were on top of it. 

 

If I were to ever try anything I'd definitely be wearing a bunch of safety stuff. I don't even have a soldering iron so all the information provided so far is really useful just understanding what is possible. 

 

If a decent welder wasn't expensive I would own one for sure and do all kinds of stuff just for fun. Maybe there are cheap ones that would work for this but I'm not too informed on welders either. 

 

I think laptops are fun to mod though. Or just take apart in most of my experience. I thought thermal pads could work to stick stuff together but wasn't sure how good the heat transfer would be. I'd assume good enough if gpus use them. Thanks everyone for the input. 

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5 hours ago, Fumferknuckle said:

Man, I posted late in the morning and you guys were on top of it. 

 

If I were to ever try anything I'd definitely be wearing a bunch of safety stuff. I don't even have a soldering iron so all the information provided so far is really useful just understanding what is possible. 

 

If a decent welder wasn't expensive I would own one for sure and do all kinds of stuff just for fun. Maybe there are cheap ones that would work for this but I'm not too informed on welders either. 

 

I think laptops are fun to mod though. Or just take apart in most of my experience. I thought thermal pads could work to stick stuff together but wasn't sure how good the heat transfer would be. I'd assume good enough if gpus use them. Thanks everyone for the input. 

Do not attempt to weld a seal vessel, the tube will explode since your pressurizing it by heating it up a large amount using the welder. Spot welder maybe, as said by other also sandwiching the tubes in a copper base would be the best.

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This has actually been done when modding the clevo laptops a few times. Well the joining of the bagpipes not the soldering part. Usually its just been thermal adhesives to mount them to a copper plate. Iirc a few people tried the liquid solder products with horrible results and even tried various rims and jb weld to hold them in place.

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Late to the party, but for anyone woundering. The way this is done in industry is to use a low temp solder paste on witch ever surface you want bonded and then put the whole thing in a reflow oven (basically a fancy high precision oven). The getto way of doing it would be to put it in your kitchen oven at the apropriate temp with the oven fan running. It is critical not to overheat the pipes due to it containing water ( in most standard pc cases), witch you would likely do with a solder iron or blow torch approach.

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On 1/4/2019 at 8:46 AM, Aywell said:

Late to the party, but for anyone woundering. The way this is done in industry is to use a low temp solder paste on witch ever surface you want bonded and then put the whole thing in a reflow oven (basically a fancy high precision oven). The getto way of doing it would be to put it in your kitchen oven at the apropriate temp with the oven fan running. It is critical not to overheat the pipes due to it containing water ( in most standard pc cases), witch you would likely do with a solder iron or blow torch approach.

What you have described is only used on printed circuit boards, to melt existing soft solder in an attempt to fix any loose connections, maybe even some open circuits if you are lucky. Its not welding, which fuses the 2 metals together by heating them so much that they melt and mix together. Nor is it soldering, where a binding alloy melts between the 2 metals, filling any gaps and firmly holds them together; It is just soldering with an oven, and has no tactile strength whatsoever, which of course it does not need, as it's purpose is to merely coat conductors to create an electrical circuit. And you certainly cannot do any welding, braising or soldering of things with water/fluids in or around them.

 

@Fumferknuckle

Different metals require different techniques to join them together, and it gets a lot more complicated if you have 2 different ones. Copper, brass, steel, and stainless steel can be braised together, though you certainly need to have some experience - you might be able to clump it into a mess that holds on your first try if you are just joining copper to copper, but anything else is out of the question. Attempting it and making a mess of it tends to make it impossible for anyone to fix afterwards, as due each metal having completely different melting points, and rates at which they disperse heat, it is very easy to melt one of the 2 completely, or carbonize and "dirty" the joints so much that no solder will ever stick. Then there is aluminium and aluminium alloys - you cannot solder them at all, as they have very low melting points - too low to use a flame on. Alum needs to be balustraded, a type of welding, and makes it very difficult to bond to anything other than itself.

 

Coming back to the topic - joining "heating pipes" - it all depends on the metals involved. Some heat exchangers, like those you find in air conditioning equipment, are made with copper tubes, as they need to be able to handle rapid temperature changes without cracking/fracturing due to expansion & stress, and as such can be repaired and modified relatively easily if the aluminium fins in the area are cut away. You also find some heat sinks with copper tubes in them like this too. Then there are other heat exchangers that have linear climbs/declines, and don't have to handle the temp swings. Like a radiator in a car, or the heat exchanger used for water cooling a CPU.Inclined to crack as much as they expand, its not something to worry about under normal operating conditions,and thus are generally just made out of aluminium or alloys, which is much cheaper than copper. So bottom line is if its orange/brown you can do it, but if silver/black it should be left alone.

 

But saying that, there is nothing stopping you from fitting flexible lines, without welding -  using clamps, threaded fittings, or glues. Im in the middle of water cooling my PS4, so actually had to do this myself when I broke a line trying to squeeze everything in. Ended up having to glue new fittings into the pump housing, and fit new lines between it and the radiator, and am prob just going to hose clamp to the radiator stubs. You can get around a lot of mech welding with fittings, and unless it is an absolute necessity for either thermals or strength, that they be directly connected, often times it can be better not to. it makes things a lot more manageable for any maintenance and repairs, if you can simply disconnect things.

 

Spoiler: You can NOT infact cleanly hide the fan and/or rad in the case of a PS4 pro, without gutting the power supply. No matter how much room there seemed to be, it was never enough, no matter how i shuffled things. 5mm to short, or 10mm too tight, or 5mm too long, always 5-10mm off (<1/4-3/8 inch) .Always something in the way. Considering sripping the supply, just out of spite, and just make it into an external xformer, or maybe even modify an xbox supply. Piece of shit better still work at the end. LOL

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You might try using pure indium as the "solder". It's expensive, but its low melting point (152C) means you can do at a much lower temperature and be sure of not damaging the heat pipes. It also has great thermal conductivity compared to any solder. Those two reasons are exactly why it's used to bond CPU dies to their integrated heat spreaders.

 

It's more difficult to get indium to wet to surfaces than it is solder (most solder is self-fluxing) though you can apply a flux to the surfaces to be bonded first off.

 

You can actually easily melt indium on your stove It's non-poisonous - so just use an aluminium saucepan (though probably not your favourite one!).

 

Not sure of the best way to actually apply the indium to the pipes and heat sinks though.

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