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machines & automation Infrared radiation (IR) becoming more popular as variety of coatings keeps growing


Aerospace manufacturers and MROs, who are always seeking new ways to trim costs and improve production effi ciencies, are using infrared radiation for drying and curing applications rather than convection ovens.


A Faster, More Flexible Approach to Drying and Curing Aircraft Parts


I


nfrared drying and curing can deliver more precise heat, greater speed and greater control than conventional con- vection processes.


For many drying and curing applications, the improved


effi ciencies of using infrared radiation (IR)—rather than con- ventional convection systems—are becoming increasingly important to aerospace manufacturers and maintenance, repair and overhaul fi rms (MROs), which are always seeking new ways to trim costs and improve production effi ciencies. The availability of a wide range of IR heating elements,


standard and custom heating panels, ovens and dryers into which heaters are placed (either new or retrofi t) makes the conversion from convection to IR heating for a wide range of drying and curing operations easier than ever. Used as a highly effi cient heat source for many decades, IR heating systems are capable of drying and curing various coatings including primers and other undercoats, thermoset resins, polyurethane “wet look” coatings, urethane and other clear coatings.


Jesse Stricker Founder, Intek Corp.


In addition to various paints and coatings, some aircraft industry composite materials specialists foresee that the fi nishing and repair of composite materials used in a variety of aircraft structural components could also benefi t from the use of IR heating systems.


Integral benefi ts of IR


The use of gas or electric IR rather than traditional convection systems enables manufacturers and rebuilders of aircraft parts to improve productivity and throughput by dramatically reducing drying and curing time—a benefi t that should be particularly attractive to volume manufacturers of new components. Using IR heat, drying time is often reduced to mere minutes (depending on paint or other coating require- ments) versus many hours for convection drying systems—a reduction that can reach the 90+ percent range. Due to its vastly improved effi ciency, drying and curing


with infrared can greatly reduce energy costs. Infrared heaters require little or no induced circulation (e.g., blow-


98 — Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2016


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