Are you interested in powder coating but not a fan of the oven approach? Well, what if I told you there was another way; Infrared Curing Sytems. This revolutionary system is loaded with a million reasons why you need to ditch the conventional oven and come over to the infrared side of powder coating.
We’re going to break down the benefits of infrared curing systems, what it is, how it works, the pros and cons, and how to powder coat with Infrared.
Let’s get into it!
Infrared Curing System
Infrared curing systems are lamps that transfer heat using radiation. They share the hot element to something that needs to dry in the way an oven would but instead, they’re on stands or hung up. So they’re significantly targeted, and they don’t need to come into direct contact with the item it’s drying.
Why Infrared Curing Systems instead of a Traditional Oven
Infrared is becoming the widely used method of baking, curing, bonding, burning-off, preheating, thermal-forming, fusing, and dry all sorts of materials. However, you won’t know if this method is for you until you see it in action and do your research.
Look for someone who might have an Infrared system or a manufacturer who uses them in their facilities. Go and find one, have a look, and contemplate if this is the right way for you to go about powder coating.
What are the Benefits of Infrared Curing Systems?
There are many benefits associated with Infrared curing systems that it is hard to know where to begin!
Let’s first consider the fact that Infrared curing systems are much more beneficial for limited space situations and the speed of production throughput.
With its more focused heat distribution that is achieved faster than conventional ovens, you’re getting a more evenly finished powder coat job.
Possibly the most significant benefit of Infrared Curing Systems is that they dramatically cut operation costs, capital costs, and upkeep. All of this, without sacrificing quality.
Pros and Cons of an Infrared Curing System
Here are the pros and cons of Infrared curing systems;
- Saved floor space = without bulky conventional stoves around, you’ve minimized floor space and workbench space all in one go.
- Zoned and Targeted Heating = have the heating more targeted allows it to go faster to fully cure your material.
- Quick to heat up = it can take less than three minutes to heat up an infrared curing system.
- Quick to cool down = you won’t be left with a system that remains hot too long thanks to its exposed heating panel.
- Highly efficient conversion of electrical energy into heat = using less electricity; Infrared Curing Systems are masters of efficient energy and heat distribution.
- Easy to use and control = Anyone can use an Infrared Curing System.
- Can increase speed = because of features within the Curing system, it’s able to produce heat faster, hotter, and, as previously mentioned, more targeted, making it much quicker.
- Suitable for solvent-based coatings
- Temperature-sensitive substrates can be challenging to work with.
- Not always straightforward to scale up the heaters.
- Harder to dry heavier coatings = this just means it will take some more time and maneuvering to effectively dry the heavily coated materials.
Operating Infrared Curing System
Infrared Curing Systems are really easy to operate. The infrared lights are designed to be utilized from a distance of 3-6’ from the object you’re going to be curing. You should be periodically positioning the light and moving it around the object. Find a plug that provides a 15 amp, 110-volt circuit, and turn that switch. In 3-5 minutes, maybe even quicker in some cases, your infrared light will heat up and get to work.
Moving the Lights
You will need to move the light to everyone now and then if you do not have a large infrared curing system. In order to hit all the necessary spots, you have to make sure to keep an eye on the material and where it needs the heat most.
8 Safety Tips for Infrared Curing System
- When operating an Infrared Curing System, you need to make sure you follow the precautions to keep your work environment safe.
- Rule One: When applying powder coating to your material, make sure your infrared curing system is not on within a 10 feet radius.
- Rule Two: Do not directly look at the light elements.
- Rule Three: Do not touch the light elements while on or while they cool down.
- Rule Four: Clean elements regularly but only when cooled down and not immediately after use.
- Rule Five: Always use grounded outlets and appropriate extension cords (Check manufacturers guide for further information on your specific model)
- Rule Six: Treat light with care, and be gentle to not disrupt the structure and weaken the stand or light sockets.
- Rule Seven: Never operate the Infrared light while the stand is uneven.
- Rule Eight: Never leave light unattended while it’s on.
Here are some of the questions we find are frequently asked about powder coating aluminum and powder coating in general.
Does Infrared work better in vacuum situations with little to no air?
Air doesn’t really have an effect on the effectiveness of Infrared curing systems. This is because air is transparent to the radiation, and Infrared isn’t scattered or absorbed by the air.
On the other hand, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other greenhouse gases can, and do, absorb radiation. So you need to ensure your Infrared is distanced as much as possible.
Can I Combine Infrared and Conventional Ovens to get the best of both worlds?
Yes. Numerous industrial applications benefit from this method. The drying process requires airflow to carry vapors generated away from the material, and the heated air can equalize temperature distributions in complex shapes and thick materials.
Is Infrared safe to work with?
Yes, Infrared is safe to work with despite the radiation used to cure powder-coated materials. In comparison to microwave radiation or ultraviolet radiation, it is far safer. As a precaution, however, we do recommend avoiding extended viewing of the high-intensity infrared emitters and keeping a short distance between yourself and the Infrared Curing System.
If you’re looking to make it even safer, add in some reflectors or shields, which also help with the efficiency of the Infrared system.
Is Infrared safe Environmentally Friendly?
Yes, resoundingly. Infrared is an incredibly environmentally friendly method of curing powder coating. Why? For several reasons;
- The Infrared Curing Systems have heating panels that are almost always made from recycled materials.
- They reduce CO2 emissions.
- They use less power than you might think. Infrared Curing Systems use half the wattage, units per hour, units over 30 days, and even cost less in electricity compared to an electric radiator.
Which one is more expensive, Infrared or conventional ovens?
There are models available on either end of this argument over which one is more expensive than the other. However, in general, Infrared curing systems are cheaper. So even if it’s minimal savings, they’re still savings.
Replacement parts can be the downside to the argument of which one is cheaper, but this isn’t something to hinge a decision on.
Which one costs more to operate on a regular basis?
Infrared Curing Systems can more efficiently utilize and distribute the energy than a conventional oven can. It’s been noted that Infrared Curing Systems are, in fact, three times more efficient than traditional ovens overall.
One area where Infrared saves is that they heat up extremely quickly and heat faster. This means if you’re paying by the kilowatt, then you’re saving money. Hands down.
Do I Need Special Coatings to Use Infrared?
No. Infrared technology can heat any material that is able to be heated. Unlike microwave ovens, ultraviolet, or dielectric heating, which requires modified coatings with special additives, infrared can heat standard materials without any issues.
Take a look at an infrared curing system in action in this video;
It’s pretty clear that Infrared Curing Systems are absolute game changers! You should consider upgrading your powder coating operation to allow for innovation, time-saving, cost-cutting, and better quality output.
IF you’re considering purchasing an Infrared Curing System, let us know how it goes! And if you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it with your friends. Maybe they might need some help making the decision to ditch the conventional oven and come over to the infrared side.