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ers, fans), are extremely ‘zone-able’ and less susceptible to humidity.


IR systems generally save on space. Convection ovens


require blowers and ductwork to deliver heated air that serves as the medium of distribution from the heat source to the sub- strate. The heat from infrared heaters travels invisibly through the air directly to the substrate saving energy, time and space. This also makes them more versatile. Plus, in addition to directly heating surfaces, the heat from IR emitters can be refl ected onto parts, providing added drying coverage, thereby making ad- ditional energy savings and processing effi ciencies possible. IR drying and curing is cleaner, providing a higher quality


fi nish on coated products. Because IR heat transmission is line-of-sight and doesn’t depend on large fans or blowers— which are frequently required for conventional convection systems—contamination on the coated surface is virtually nonexistent. This eliminates product rejects and reworking.


Better control, better results One of the primary reasons why aerospace parts manufac-


turers and MROs are converting to IR drying and curing is that it is also easier to monitor and control than many convection heating systems.


It is necessary to understand the behavior of the heat com-


ing from a source, and the fact that the heat must be moni- tored. Each heat zone, for instance, has its own temperature control and thermocouple, the thermoelectric device used to measure the temperature. In the case of infrared heating technology, this allows our zoning to be very tightly controlled. This provides a full-surface reference of the actual IR emitter temperature; you can correlate that by running tests on cus- tomer’s actual parts prior to presenting our design. This way, you know, for example, 800° at the emitter correlates with 350° at the part, over a specifi c period of time. Another critical difference, in drying and curing of paints and other coatings, well-defi ned heating zones are often required. Multiple zones are trickier with convection heating because it is more diffi cult to monitor and control multiple blowers and heat sources. IR heating is much more “zone- able,” because each emitter module is a kind of building block of the oven or array, it is much simpler to create as many zones and controls as required to achieve the desired results. Yet, there are drying and curing applications where convec- tion heating can be combined with IR panels to create a hybrid system. One example of such a system is when IR is used at the


beginning of a process line to preheat the products before going to a convection oven for drying. This hybrid system may be ad- vantageous when the products have “hidden” surfaces that can be dried more evenly by convection heating. In some instances hybrid systems require a small IR heating chamber to be added before the convection oven; in others, relatively compact IR heat- ers can be placed within the fi rst section of the convection oven.


Drying & curing of composites Many of the same benefi ts, particularly accurate control of drying/curing profi les and fl exibility of confi guration also apply to using IR systems for composite materials. These layered or sandwiched carbon-based materials are often used to improve the structural properties of aircraft fan cowls, undercarriage doors, trailing-edge wedges on fl ight control surfaces, and fuselage undercarriage structural com- ponents. Because they are considerably lighter in weight than traditional metals such as aluminum alloys, composites also promise to add signifi cant fuel savings to next generation aircraft such as the forthcoming Boeing 787 Dreamliner. IR curing of both new and refurbished aircraft components and assemblies using composite materials provides many of the same benefi ts as the drying and curing of paint and other surface coatings.


The tolerances for composite temperature profi les used for curing parts are normally extremely tight from start to fi nish. Convection ovens constructed for that purpose have ended up being an expensive misstep. On the other hand, the use of a correctly-confi gured oven or even external heating arrays us- ing highly controllable IR heat sources to tightly match various surfaces may be able to meet those tight profi les more consis- tently and also accelerate the speed and throughput of curing. For more information, contact Intek Corp. at 290 Indepen- dence Drive, Union, MO 63084; 800-387-8559; fax 636-584- 8503; sales@intekcorp.com; or www.intekcorp.com.


Jesse Stricker is the founder of Intek Corp., a manufacturer that specializes in designing and building electric infrared heating elements, heaters, ovens and dryers. Stricker has a background in electrical and mechanical design with two (2) US patents to his name for industrial heating equipment and application. He has dedicated 42 years in the area of industrial heating, manufacturing and application. Stricker founded Intek Corp. in 1996 with one employee and today operates in a 23,000 ft2


manufacturing facility with 15 employees. 99 — Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2016


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