Industrial ovens are batch or continuous process insulated enclosures or tunnels used for thermal processing. Ovens are lower temperature (usually <1400 degrees F) thermal processing units, usually without refractory insulation. They are used for a wide range of industrial applications including aging, annealing, baking, burn-off, curing, drying, heat treating, melting, preheating and sterilizing.
Types of Ovens
Industrial ovens are available in a number of common configurations, although custom and specialized models may be designed in conjunction with a supplier.
Cabinet or bench ovens describe small batch equipment typically mounted on integral stands. Batch ovens are typically suited for processing quantities of a given product in a single batch.
Walk-in or truck-in ovens describe larger size batch equipment, typically with double doors and integral carts, shelves etc. As with cabinet and bench ovens, these ovens are typically used for processing large quantities of a given product in a single batch.
Continuous or conveyor oven units are oriented toward automated production of mass quantities of small-to-medium-sized product. The type of conveyance system used depends on the product line, volume of work to be produced, and temperature to be obtained.
Foundry ovens are used for metal melting applications for jewelry manufacturing, mining, die-casting operations, production aluminum foundries, and fine arts studios. They typically have a tilting mechanism, which can be manually operated (e.g., a handwheel) or powered (e.g., hydraulic tilt).
Quenching ovens are used for rapid cooling of heated media, and are typically identified by the more specific technology utilized: direct, fog, hot, interrupted, internal, selective, slack, spray, and time quenching.
Industrial ovens may be powered by any one of the following heat sources: electricity, natural gas, propane, steam, oil, or other fuels. Some varieties are designed that can handle a number of these fuels, although most are limited to one specific power source.
Normally, when the word vacuum is used it refers to any absolute pressure below that of normal atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure is defined as 14.7 psia or 760 torr, any pressure less than this is considered a vacuum.
In a vacuum oven, the heat-treating process takes place inside a vessel that is airtight. This allows a vacuum to be drawn inside the vessel. The entire heat-treating process can take place under vacuum or precisely controlled atmospheres can be introduced. Heat treating under vacuum can: prevent surface reactions, such as oxidation or decarburization; remove surface contaminants such as oxide films and residual traces of lubricants; add a substance to the surface layers of the work; remove dissolved contaminating substances from metals by means of degassing.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides the standard BS ISO 13579-1 that states methods of measuring energy balance and calculating energy efficiency for industrial furnaces and associated processing equipment.
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Autoclaves and Sterilizers
Autoclaves are used for applications requiring constant pressure and temperature for long periods of time. Common applications include the sterilization of instruments and polymerization of rubbers and plastics.
Laboratory ovens are used in a variety of thermal processing applications including general lab work, component and stability testing, core hardening, drying glassware, and sterilizing.
Vacuum ovens are heat-treating ovens that use a low atmospheric pressure instead of a protective gas atmosphere. This helps to alleviate surface reactions.