The type and description of an industrial oven depends on how it is used. Curing ovens create a chemical reaction between a powder and metallic surfaces. Drying ovens remove moisture from raw materials. Other industrial ovens prepare metals for processing, melt metals together, and remove contaminants.
Types of industrial ovens
It would be impossible to list all of the varieties of industrial ovens since new ones are being continually developed. Specialized ovens are designed for a single production process. Below is a brief description of the common varieties of industrial ovens offered by manufacturers.
Baking ovens release moisture, volatile compounds, or trapped gases from coatings on finished products. In powder coating, the baking process heats the powder to its melting point to adhere it to a metal piece. Manufacturers use baking and curing as interchangeable terms.
Baking ovens are thermal processing units that combine curing and drying. They cure painted parts by speeding up the drying process by removing moisture from the air to leave a flawless finish.
The food and packaged food industries use batch and conveyor industrial baking ovens to increase the speed of food production.
Batch ovens heat large quantities of products and come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the application. They can be bench top or walk in and are heated by electrical elements or burners that are direct or indirect. Batch industrial ovens out gas that has been trapped in products to prevent product deterioration.
Conveyor or continuous ovens are for mass production and can operate at variable speeds. They have a cooling zone, multiple heat zones, and an exhaust hood. Conveyor industrial ovens do drying, curing, annealing, stress relieving, bonding, tempering, preheating, and forming. Their conveyor belt configuration can easily be incorporated into a production or assembly line. Conveyor industrial ovens have high production volume, are automated, and flexibility.
Curing industrial ovens cause powder or paint to bond with metals. They can harden products made from rubber, plastics, and various metals. Curing industrial ovens come in several varieties and have numerous applications. They are built with steel insulated panels and frames and are powered by electricity, UV rays, hot oil, steam, or natural gas. Though their temperature range varies, most curing ovens can reach temperatures of 800° F or 426° C.
Direct Gas Ovens
Gas industrial ovens are more expensive to build than electric ovens but are less expensive to run since gas costs less than electricity. They heat up quicker and maintain temperatures longer than electric or infrared ovens, which adds to their lower operating cost. Fuel for gas industrial ovens is natural or propane gas. Among their many functions are curing coatings on steel and assisting in the production of automotive parts such as brake pads and linings. Pictured below is a continuous conveyor gas fired oven.
Drying ovens remove moisture, heat treat metals for the extrusion process, and sterilize medical equipment. They use natural or forced convection and are used as vacuum ovens for powders, granular products, and electronic components. When used to remove moisture, the amount of moisture in the product is measured as a determinant of the settings for the oven.
Industrial Electric Ovens
Electrically heated ovens use electricity and have quick heat-up times, precision temperature controls, and low cost. They are ideal for dealing with combustible products or working with metals like aluminum, which can discolor when heated by gas.
Infrared ovens use high intensity lighting to maximize production and minimize energy usage. Electromagnetic radiation instantly brings the oven to full power with consistent and precision heating. Infrared ovens are preferred for coating and curing processes and applications that require precision and speed. Their major drawback is their initial cost. Their main selling features are efficiency, precision, and reliability.
Though the microwave oven has been a common tool for cooking in the home, recent developments have led to the use of microwave ovens for industrial processes. Microwave heating provides a fast and efficient method for heat treating parts at a lower cost than conventional methods and has shorter heating, processing, and cooling times.
The process of microwave heating produces energy in the component being heated, while the oven remains cool. Processing times are reduced by 50% and energy consumption by 70%, creating a substantial savings in part processing and production costs. Difficult to heat treat nonmetallic or non-conducting materials can easily be processed using high frequency heating.
Tunnel ovens have open-ended chambers connected with a metal belt that has a baking platform. Products are baked directly on the hearth or a pan.
There are two categories of tunnel ovens: direct gas and indirect gas fired. Direct gas fired use air turbulence. Baking takes less time. A thermocouple sensor provides zone temperature controls and regulates the baking chambers. The flame in the chamber is above and below for even heating. Tunnel industrial ovens operate on a continuous cycle with little turnaround time between batches. They are used by the food and automotive industries.
Vacuum ovens control atmospheric pressure in the heating chamber to remove contaminants and provide greater control of treatment processes. By removing oxygen, they prevent oxidation and control surface reactions in the heating chamber. In vacuum industrial ovens, drying is at a lower temperature, which is ideal for sensitive materials.