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APC launches a new UPS in record time.

Courtesy of American Power Conversion, Corp.

With each product generation, American Power Conversion (APC), a leading manufacturer of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and power management products, has found itself fighting tougher thermal battles. Users demand higher power, but smaller units, a combination that creates higher heat loads. Shrinking packages have made it challenging to effectively locate fans and vents; correct component placement often proves counter-intuitive, and the resulting airflow problems can trip up even experienced thermal engineers.

Faced with these increasingly complex problems, APC turned to CFD to help ensure the best possible product performance. But engineering had little CFD experience, and a lengthy learning process would have left the company vulnerable to potential schedule slippages. Hence, ease-of-use became the number one selection criterion.

APC undertook an evaluation of various CFD offerings and found that Coolit met its needs. The software's intuitive design rapidly turned APC's CFD users into self-taught veterans, shrinking the learning process from days to hours. Additionally, when questions did arise, the engineer received prompt help from Daat technical support engineers.

Initially, APC integrated CFD into its design effort on a new uninterruptible power supply. Coolit made it easy to compare the impact of various parameters, and identify which layouts and cooling schemes were most effective. It also steered engineering toward design changes that it previously hadn't considered. For example, the company had standardized the fan locations inside enclosures, but after viewing the Coolit airflow animation, it realized that the standards no longer worked in its increasingly crowded designs. These changes helped save the company time and money.

Engineering also had planned to carry-over an existing heat sink into the new design, but the Coolit analysis showed that the heat sink was inadequate for the increased power requirements. Coolit also proved invaluable in component optimization. For example, heat sinks were selected by trying different fin topologies and calculating the heat sink performance. The results quickly pinpointed the best heat sink for the job.

As the design evolved, Coolit became the arbiter between electrical and thermal engineering. Electrical engineers needed more space to squeeze in components and demanded a smaller heat sink. Thermal engineers claimed the change would raise components' temperature, and it used Coolit's flow and temperature visualization and animation tools to make their point. When electrical engineers questioned the model's accuracy, thermal engineers pointed to the excellent agreement (within 7%) between Coolit predictions and physical testing.

Throughout the project, Coolit eliminated trial and error and uncovered problems without prototype testing. By the time the project was completed, Coolit had drastically reduced time from the design schedule and helped APC introduce an improved design.

New APC-designed UPS.
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