The processes employed by industrial ovens require heat and mass transfer, which can be accomplished by gas-fired and electric ovens, both of which can use conduction, convection, or radiant infrared heat as a means of heat generation. Some industrial ovens are designed to utilize a combination of these types of heat generation; no single heating technology is perfect for every process. Industrial oven manufacturers offer two oven configurations: batch ovens, which range in their production volume capacities and can be portable, and continuous or conveyor ovens, which are generally limited to large-scale heat treatment operations.
Batch ovens are more commonly employed in commercial settings where an individual product is processed in large groups. Continuous conveyor ovens consist of automated conveyor systems that move large quantities of products through a heating chamber. Both batch and continuous ovens may be used as curing ovens, drying ovens, powder coating ovens or sintering ovens while vacuum ovens heat metals within a convection-preventing vacuum at high temperatures. While many industrial ovens are used in manufacturing and food processing settings, some laboratory ovens have applications in industries that conduct heat-related research or who develop new oven or heat treatment technologies.
Heat treatment is a very important industrial process. Industries that produce metal, plastic, wood, ceramic and glass products all rely on heat treatment processes to strengthen or otherwise improve the quality of their products. Industrial oven manufacturers create oven configurations that are suitable for varied heat treatment processes. Products like coated paper, textiles, carpeting, building materials, tubing, electronics, fuel cells, steel coils and automotive parts all require some kind of heat treatment before they reach their end-users. Because of the expansive variety of products that undergo heat treatment processes, an equally large variety of ovens is necessary to meet that need. Industrial ovens are divided into two main groups: batch and conveyor ovens. Batch ovens are popular with smaller-scale industrial heat treatment service providers because they allow for an even application of heat for a volume of products. They can be small and portable, or they can be large enough to fill most of a room. Some batch ovens allow for the evacuation of atmosphere in the oven's enclosure (such ovens are called vacuum ovens or vacuum chambers). This process allows for the heat treatment of metals without the risk of surface oxidization, which can occur in the presence of oxygen. Conveyor ovens are more useful in large-scale heat treatment operations because they allow for the heat treatment of a continuous stream of products. They can be less attractive to smaller operations because of their high initial cost compared to many batch ovens. They also require a steady stream of product input in order to be cost-effective.
Both oven configurations can use a variety of heating methods. The simplest form of heat transfer in industrial ovens is natural convection. Convection is the transmission of heat through gasses and liquids. In a natural convection oven, an electrified coil or gas-fired heat source produces heat that is transferred to the air in the oven's enclosure. That heat is then transferred to the product. Natural convection is sufficient in many small ovens, but when batch size increases, natural convection is likely to heat products unevenly. The solution to the unevenness of natural convection is forced convection. This solution involves a fan in the oven's enclosure that circulates the heated air around the product, resulting in an even distribution of heat. Most baking operations of any substantial scale require forced convection in order to be effective. The most efficient means of heat generation is infrared radiation. Ovens equipped with infrared heat sources use electromagnetic waves to transfer heat directly to products as opposed to through the air and then to the product. Heat in infrared ovens is generated in a coil, often a tungsten filament, and transfers directly to the product. Because of their high efficiency, infrared ovens are popular in all industrial heat treatment applications. A few, more obscure methods of heat generation exist (quartz is used in some conveyor ovens to produce intense light), but their use is limited.
Understanding heat transfer is an important part of understanding how ovens work. When an object is heated, the heat causes molecular activity in the object to speed up. In solids, the molecules in lattices vibrate, and in gasses, molecules collide. Laboratories use industrial ovens to study heat transfer and refine the means of its transmission in industrial contexts. As time has passed, inefficiencies in heat transmission have been eliminated, new methods of producing heat have been developed and new applications for heat treatment processes have been discovered. The result of this research has been stronger metal products, more versatile extruded polymer products, improved sanitation in healthcare facilities and a host of other benefits.
Industrial Oven Informational Video