Oven manufacturers are increasingly turning to infrared heating technology to provide controllable heat, says one maker of industrial ovens. Infrared heating elements have proven to be energy efficient and cheap to operate. Properly sized elements can have positive effects on oven performance and cost.

According to Intek Corp., Union, Mo., infrared heating technology is used in industrial ovens, dryers and heaters used by industries such as thermoforming, printing, pulp and paper and metalworking.  It is practical to tailor infrared heating elements to provide the performance necessary for the heater or oven to provide optimum productivity and minimum downtime in a given application.

When selecting an infrared oven, Intek recommends prospective customers take a four-step process.

1. Standard or Custom. Oven/heater applications can vary among market segments — even within the same industry. For example, within the printing industry, different heaters or elements are used by screen printing, paper and 3D printing industries.

“There may be some standard specifications within the OEM models available for some specific applications, but in many cases, the OEMs don’t have the in-house technical resources to determine exactly whether an off-the-shelf element is suitable or if a custom design is required,” says Jesse Stricker, founder of Intek. “Or they may not have the experience to consider all of the intricacies of heat transfer, reflection and controls.”

2. Determine Specifications. Whether standard or custom element design is anticipated, certain design criteria should be established with the element supplier at the outset.  Users should consider how the filament, element or heater is connected to supply power and what the location is of each element lead wire, as well as the method of attachment or termination required.

3. Confirm Specifications. Whatever the element design specifications, they should be discussed and confirmed with the supplier whenever possible.

“I believe it is important that a supplier is willing and able to provide support from design to completion, that you get a personal response, and get to talk with someone who has experience with the application in question,” says Stricker.

4. Consider Adding Services. Value-added services can include extra services or assurances that supplies will be available when required. Stricker adds that it is important to OEMs that suppliers maintain strict confidentiality regarding product designs, applications and financial arrangements.