Virtually everyone uses a computer for some purpose at some time, relying on keyboard letters and numbers to guide their fingers to the right keys. The process that puts those characters on the plastic keys is thermal transfer, and the transfer better be sharp and clear.

Therefore, when the gas-fired convection heat tunnel that an electronics maker used to apply characters to computer keyboards failed to make complete transfers, management knew the problem was a big one. The company's reputation was at risk and it faced the expense of excessive scrap. Another problem with the tunnel was that it could not produce finished keyboards fast enough to satisfy customers.After installing infrared panels from Research Inc. in Eden Prairie, Minn., the manufacturer's problems were solved.

Research Inc. installed two model 4554-A-25 high density Pyropanels to provide a precise amount of heat to the thermal transfer, which consistently made a complete transfer of all characters and virtually eliminated the need to scrap keyboards. The Pyropanels meant the manufacturer could increase line speed by 133 percent to 35 ft/min, meeting customer demands. In addition, by instantly heating up and cooling down, the Pyropanels enabled the manufacturer to operate the units at 5 percent power when keyboards were not present on the line, which reduced the amount of energy consumed when activating the process.