Infrared Heat in Industrial Production
IR Provides Efficient Best-in-Class Performance
WECO’s infrared ceramic product offering provides long wave infrared radiation, used in a diverse range of industrial and engineering applications such as plastics thermoforming, paint curing, printing and drying. Ceramic configurations include ceramic trough elements, ceramic hollow elements, ceramic flat elements, and ceramic infrared bulbs.
Infrared heating is mobile, rapid and flexible. It can be easily adapted to intermediate steps in the composites manufacturing or curing process, as well as deliver major savings in energy and curing time. A further advantage of IR is that being a radiative source it requires no medium. IR should not be thought of as heat but as an electromagnetic wave which behaves similar to light. Therefore it can pass through a vacuum. As the heating source is non-contact, contamination issues such as dust which may be a factor in convective heating are non-existent. Infrared heating in the majority of cases does not require onerous safety requirements. At very short wavelengths, the intensity of the light may require goggles or screening.
When selecting an infrared emitter it is important to match the spectral absorption of the target material with the emitter. Many polymers absorb well in the mid to long wave regions. Although shortwave infrared heaters have the fastest heat up times, their high power density could lead to burning of the material surface. A lower power heater such as a ceramic or quartz heater may provide a more gentle, long wave heat thus allowing time for penetration of the material to effect a thorough cure.