ELECTRIC INFRARED HEAT APPLICATIONS

With over 45 years of application experience, specifically in long and medium wavelength electric infrared heating, PROTHERM, LLC™ application specialists are ready to handle your project from initial inquiry through to final build. Our team can assess the project, run heat balance calculations, test products, design and build systems – all in-house, guaranteeing competitive pricing, the highest quality, and some of the shortest lead times in the industry.

PROTHERM Electric Infrared Heaters and Ovens are the perfect fit for these Processes here and the Materials listed down the page:

THERMAL PROCESSING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN THERMAL PROCESSING?

Infrared heat is utilized in thermal processing for various applications across different industries. Thermal processing involves subjecting materials to controlled heating or cooling to achieve specific physical, chemical, or mechanical properties. Here’s how infrared heat is commonly used in thermal processing:

Heating: Infrared heaters emit electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the infrared range, which penetrates the surface of materials and directly heats them. This direct heating mechanism allows for rapid and efficient heating of materials without heating the surrounding air. Infrared heat is used to heat materials for processes such as drying, curing, annealing, sintering, welding, and melting.

Drying: Infrared heat is commonly used for drying processes, where moisture or solvents are removed from materials such as coatings, inks, textiles, plastics, ceramics, and food products. Infrared dryers emit infrared radiation that penetrates the surface of the material, causing moisture or solvents to evaporate. This results in fast and efficient drying with minimal energy consumption.

Curing: Infrared heat is employed for curing processes, where coatings, adhesives, inks, paints, and other materials undergo chemical reactions to form a solid, durable film or bond. Infrared curing systems emit infrared radiation that initiates and accelerates the curing process by activating photo-initiators or cross-linking agents within the material. This results in rapid curing with improved adhesion, hardness, and chemical resistance.

Annealing: Infrared heat is used for annealing processes, where materials such as metals, plastics, glass, and ceramics are heated to specific temperatures and then slowly cooled to relieve internal stresses, improve mechanical properties, or modify microstructures. Infrared annealing systems provide precise control over heating and cooling rates, allowing for uniform and controlled annealing of materials.

Sintering: Infrared heat is employed for sintering processes, where powdered materials such as metals, ceramics, and polymers are heated to temperatures below their melting points to bond particles together. Infrared sintering systems provide rapid and uniform heating of powder compacts, allowing for densification and consolidation of materials to produce solid components with desired properties.

Welding: Infrared heat is utilized in welding processes, where thermoplastic materials are heated to their melting points and fused together to form strong, permanent bonds. Infrared welding systems emit infrared radiation that selectively heats the weld interface, allowing for precise control over the welding process and minimizing thermal damage to surrounding areas.

Melting: Infrared heat is used for melting processes, where materials such as metals, plastics, and glass are heated to their melting points to form molten pools or streams. Infrared melting systems provide rapid and efficient heating of materials, allowing for controlled melting and casting of components with complex geometries.

Overall, infrared heat is a versatile and efficient tool for thermal processing, offering precise control, rapid heating, and energy efficiency across a wide range of industrial applications:

  • Food and Beverage
  • Chemical Processing
  • Metals and Mining
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Plastics and Polymers
  • Glass and Ceramics
WEB PROCESSING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN WEB PROCESSING?

In web processing, which involves the continuous handling and treatment of materials in the form of a continuous web or roll, infrared heat is utilized for various heating, drying, and curing applications. Here’s how infrared heat is commonly used in web processing:

Heating: Infrared heaters are often employed to preheat or post-heat continuous webs of materials such as plastics, films, foils, textiles, and paper. By exposing the material to infrared radiation, the heaters efficiently transfer heat to the surface of the web, raising its temperature to the desired level for subsequent processing steps, such as lamination, coating, or forming.

Drying: Infrared heat is used for drying moisture or solvents from continuous webs of materials after coating, printing, or laminating processes. Infrared dryers emit infrared radiation that penetrates the surface of the web, causing the moisture or solvents to evaporate. This results in rapid and efficient drying of the material without causing damage or distortion.

Curing: Infrared curing systems are employed for curing coatings, adhesives, and inks applied to continuous webs of materials. Infrared radiation initiates chemical reactions within the coating, adhesive, or ink, leading to polymerization, crosslinking, or drying. This results in the formation of a cured film or layer with desired properties such as adhesion, hardness, and durability.

Annealing: Infrared heat can be used for annealing continuous webs of materials to relieve internal stresses, improve mechanical properties, or enhance dimensional stability. Annealing involves heating the material to a specific temperature below its melting point and then gradually cooling it down. Infrared heaters provide precise control over the heating process, allowing for uniform annealing of the web.

Embossing and Forming: Infrared heat is utilized in web processing for embossing or forming continuous webs of thermoplastic materials. By heating the material to its softening or melting point using infrared radiation, it becomes pliable and can be shaped or embossed using patterned rollers or molds. This allows for the production of textured or contoured surfaces on the web.

Temperature Control: Infrared heaters and sensors are integrated into web processing equipment to monitor and control the temperature of the material during processing. This ensures that the material remains within the specified temperature range for optimal processing conditions, minimizing defects and ensuring product quality.

Overall, infrared heat plays a crucial role in various aspects of web processing by providing efficient, controllable, and versatile heating solutions for continuous webs of materials across industries such as:

  • Packaging
  • Printing
  • Converting
  • Textiles
  • Automotive
  • Electronics
  • Energy

PROTHERM can build exact replacements for discontinued DRI brand radiant air dryers. See our FSA page and Web Dryers & Ovens page, or call for more information.

DRYING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN DRYING?

Infrared heat is widely used in drying processes across various industries due to its efficiency, controllability, and effectiveness in removing moisture from materials. Here’s how infrared heat is utilized in drying applications:

Energy Transfer: Infrared radiation emitted by IR heating elements or lamps penetrates the surface of the material being dried and transfers energy directly to the moisture within the material.

Moisture Absorption: The moisture molecules within the material absorb the infrared radiation energy, causing them to vibrate and generate heat. This heat energy increases the kinetic energy of the water molecules, leading to their evaporation from the material’s surface.

Uniform Heating: Infrared drying systems can provide uniform heating across the surface of the material, ensuring consistent drying without overheating or damaging the material.

Faster Drying Times: Compared to conventional drying methods such as hot air convection, infrared drying can significantly reduce drying times due to its ability to rapidly heat the material’s surface and promote efficient moisture removal.

Controlled Process: Infrared drying systems can be precisely controlled in terms of intensity, wavelength, and duration of exposure, allowing operators to tailor the drying process to specific materials and requirements. This control enhances process efficiency and product quality.

Energy Efficiency: Infrared drying systems often require less energy compared to traditional drying methods because they heat the material directly rather than heating the surrounding air. This reduces heat loss and energy waste, resulting in lower operating costs.

Versatility: Infrared drying can be used for a wide range of materials, including paper, textiles, coatings, paints, inks, plastics, ceramics, and food products. Its versatility makes it suitable for various industries, including printing, manufacturing, food processing, textiles, and automotive.

Quality Preservation: Infrared drying can help preserve the quality, color, texture, and properties of sensitive materials by minimizing exposure to excessive heat and moisture. This is particularly important for drying heat-sensitive materials or products prone to degradation.

Overall, infrared heat is a versatile and efficient method for drying materials, offering fast drying times, precise control, and energy savings across a wide range of industrial applications:

  • Printing
  • Textiles
  • Woodworking
  • Food Processing
  • Paints and Coatings
  • Plastics and Rubber
  • Ceramics
  • Electronics
  • Construction
CURING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN CURING?

Infrared heat is commonly used in curing various materials such as paints, coatings, adhesives, composites rubber, epoxy and plastisol. Here’s how it works:

Energy Transfer: Infrared radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than visible light. When infrared radiation contacts a material, it penetrates the surface and transfers energy to the molecules within the material.

Heat Generation: As the infrared radiation interacts with the molecules, it causes them to vibrate, generating heat. This heat leads to the curing process in materials like paints and coatings, where it initiates chemical reactions that cause the material to harden or solidify.

Controlled Application: Infrared curing systems are designed to emit specific wavelengths of infrared radiation and control the intensity and duration of exposure. This allows for precise control over the curing process, ensuring optimal results for different materials and applications.

Efficiency: Compared to traditional curing methods such as convection ovens, infrared curing offers several advantages. It can heat materials more quickly and uniformly, reducing processing times and energy consumption. Additionally, because infrared radiation directly heats the material’s surface, there is less heat loss to the surrounding environment, improving efficiency.

Versatility: Infrared curing can be used for curing various materials, including thermosetting polymers, powder coatings, liquid coatings, inks and adhesives. Its versatility makes it a popular choice in industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, and manufacturing.

Overall, infrared heat is a powerful tool for curing materials, offering fast, efficient, and precise curing solutions for a wide range of applications like:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Electronics
  • Consumer Goods
  • Printing
  • Textiles
BOOSTING/GELLING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN (BOOSTING) GELLING?

Infrared heat can indeed be used to facilitate the gelling process in certain materials or substances. Gelling involves transforming a powder, semi-liquid or liquid substance into a gel, which typically involves the formation of a three-dimensional network structure that traps the liquid component within. Here’s how infrared heat can be applied in gelling processes:

Promoting Molecular Mobility: Infrared radiation penetrates the material and increases the kinetic energy of its molecules, promoting molecular mobility. This increased mobility can facilitate the reorganization of molecules into the desired gel structure by breaking intermolecular bonds and allowing them to form new ones that are characteristic of a gel network.

Accelerating Gelation Reaction: Many gelling processes involve chemical or physical reactions that lead to the formation of the gel structure. Infrared heat can provide the necessary activation energy for these reactions to occur more rapidly, thus speeding up the gelation process.

Uniform Heating: Unlike traditional heating methods like conduction or convection, which heat the material from the outside in, infrared heat can penetrate the material more evenly. This uniform heating ensures that the entire volume of the material reaches the required temperature for gelation, promoting consistent gel formation throughout.

Controlled Temperature: Infrared heating systems often offer precise temperature control, allowing operators to maintain optimal gelling temperatures without overheating or damaging the material. This control is crucial for achieving the desired gel properties and consistency.

Reducing Processing Time: The combination of increased molecular mobility, accelerated reaction rates, and uniform heating provided by infrared heat can significantly reduce the time required for gelling compared to conventional methods. This can lead to faster production cycles and increased efficiency in manufacturing processes.

Infrared heat can be a valuable tool in gelling processes, offering advantages such as accelerated reaction rates, uniform heating, precise temperature control, and reduced processing time. Here are some industries where gel forming is commonly employed:

  • Powder Coating Primer or Top Coat
  • Food and Beverage
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Cosmetics and Personal Care
  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences
  • Textiles and Materials Science
THERMOFORMING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN THERMOFORMING?

In thermoforming, infrared heat is often used as a source of energy to heat up the plastic material being formed. Infrared heaters emit electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than microwaves. This radiation is absorbed by the plastic material, causing its molecules to vibrate and generate heat. Here’s how infrared heat is typically used in thermoforming:

Preheating: Before the plastic material is formed, it needs to be heated to a certain temperature to make it pliable. Infrared heaters are used to evenly heat the surface of the plastic sheet or film. PROTHERM heaters can be placed together to create a uniform seamless heating area.  Specific areas can be precisely controlled for different zones, and larger heaters can be built with multiple zones to simplify mounting and wiring. PROTHERM series CB heaters are a higher mass heat source which allows stable heating with little to no recovery time between shuttle cycles. They are also proven to have a long life at elevated temperatures for higher temperature composite processing. Our series FS heaters are a fast-responding higher temperature heat source and can also be banked together for similar benefits.

Heating the mold: In some thermoforming processes, the mold itself is heated to help shape the plastic material more effectively. Infrared heaters can be directed towards the mold to heat it up quickly and evenly.

Controlled heating: Infrared heaters offer precise control over the heating process, allowing for adjustments to be made based on the specific requirements of the material being formed. This control helps ensure consistent results and reduces the risk of overheating or underheating the plastic.

Energy efficiency: Compared to traditional heating methods like convection heating, infrared heating can be more energy-efficient because it directly transfers heat to the plastic material without heating the surrounding air. This can result in faster heating times and lower energy consumption.

Overall, infrared heat plays a crucial role in thermoforming by providing efficient and controllable heating, which is essential for shaping plastic materials into desired forms in industries such as:

  • Packaging
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Medical Devices
  • Consumer Goods
  • Construction and Building Materials
  • Signage
LAMINATING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN LAMINATING?

In laminating processes, infrared heat can be employed in several ways to bond layers of materials together. Here’s how infrared heat is typically used in laminating:

Activation of Adhesive Layers: Many laminating processes involve the use of adhesives to bond layers of materials together. Infrared heat can be used to activate or cure these adhesive layers. When infrared radiation is applied to the adhesive-coated material, it heats up the adhesive, causing it to melt, flow, or cure, depending on the type of adhesive used. This allows the adhesive to form a strong bond between the layers of material.

Heat-Assisted Laminating: In some cases, infrared heat can be used to heat the entire laminating assembly, including the materials being bonded together. This can help soften or melt certain types of materials, making them easier to bond together. By applying heat evenly across the laminating assembly, infrared heaters can facilitate the bonding process and ensure a strong, uniform bond between the layers.

Temperature Control: Infrared heaters offer precise temperature control, allowing laminating processes to be tailored to the specific requirements of the materials being bonded together. By adjusting the intensity and duration of the infrared heat, laminating operators can optimize the bonding process for different materials, thicknesses, and adhesive types.

Energy Efficiency: Similar to thermoforming, infrared heating in laminating processes can be more energy-efficient compared to traditional heating methods. Because infrared heaters directly transfer heat to the materials being bonded, there is less heat loss to the surrounding environment. This can result in faster processing times and lower energy consumption.

Uniformity: Infrared heaters can be built with different heat zones across the width of the product/web to compensate for edge losses and assure uniformity from center to edge.

Overall, infrared heat plays a crucial role in laminating processes by providing efficient and controllable heating, which is essential for achieving strong, reliable bonds between layers of materials. Here are some industries where laminating is commonly employed:

  • Printing and Packaging
  • Textiles
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Consumer Goods
PREHEATING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN PREHEATING?

Infrared heat is commonly used in preheating processes across various industries due to its efficiency, versatility, and controllability. Preheating involves raising the temperature of a material or substrate to a specific level before it undergoes further processing or treatment. Here’s how infrared heat is utilized in preheating:

Uniform Heating: Infrared heaters emit infrared radiation that penetrates the surface of the material and directly heats it. This results in uniform heating throughout the material, ensuring that the entire surface reaches the desired temperature evenly.

Fast Heating: Infrared heaters provide rapid heating, allowing materials to reach the desired temperature quickly. This reduces waiting times and increases productivity in preheating operations, leading to overall efficiency improvements.

Localized Heating: Infrared heaters can be precisely directed to specific areas or zones of the material, providing localized heating as needed. This allows for targeted preheating of critical areas or complex geometries without overheating surrounding areas.

Energy Efficiency: Infrared heating is energy-efficient because it heats the material directly without heating the surrounding air. This minimizes heat loss and energy waste, resulting in lower energy consumption and operating costs compared to traditional heating methods.

Controlled Temperature: Infrared heaters can be controlled to achieve precise temperature levels, allowing operators to adjust the heating parameters according to the requirements of the material and the specific process. This ensures consistent and repeatable preheating results, leading to improved product quality and process reliability.

Versatility: Infrared heaters can be integrated into various preheating equipment and systems, including conveyor belts, ovens, chambers, and handheld devices. This versatility allows for the customization of preheating solutions to meet the specific needs of different industries and applications.

Compatibility with Different Materials: Infrared heating is compatible with a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, ceramics, composites, and textiles. This makes it suitable for preheating various substrates in processes such as embossing composite lumber, preheating large steel dies for molding or extruding, heating plastic before welding or forming, expanding parts before assembly, preheat thick steel for better weld penetration or finish coating thickness, heating cables before extruding outer layers, and many more.

Overall, infrared heat is a versatile and efficient method for preheating materials, offering fast heating, precise temperature control, and energy efficiency across a wide range of industrial applications:

  • Metalworking and Fabrication
  • Plastics and Composites
  • Glass and Ceramics
  • Textiles
  • Food and Beverage
ANNEALING: How is infrared heat used in annealing?
Infrared heat can be used in annealing processes in several ways, depending on the specific requirements of the material being treated and the desired outcome. Here are some common ways infrared heat is utilized in annealing:

Uniform Heating: Infrared heaters can provide uniform heating across the surface of the material being annealed. This is important for achieving consistent results and preventing localized overheating or cooling.

Precise Temperature Control: Infrared heating systems can offer precise temperature control, allowing operators to heat the material to the exact temperature required for annealing. This is crucial for achieving the desired structural or metallurgical changes in the material.

Rapid Heating and Cooling: Infrared heaters can heat materials quickly due to their ability to directly transfer heat to the material’s surface without the need for a heating medium, such as air or water. Additionally, rapid cooling can be achieved by simply turning off the infrared heaters, enabling faster annealing cycles.

Selective Heating: Infrared radiation can be focused on specific areas of the material, allowing for selective annealing of localized regions. This is useful for annealing materials with complex geometries or heterogeneous microstructures.

Energy Efficiency: Infrared heating can be more energy-efficient compared to other heating methods, as it can transfer heat directly to the material without heating the surrounding environment. This can result in shorter annealing cycles and lower energy consumption.

Overall, infrared heat offers versatility, efficiency, and precision in annealing processes, making it a popular choice in various industrial applications. Here are some industries where annealing is commonly employed:


  • Metallurgy and Manufacturing
  • Semiconductor and Electronics
  • Glass and Ceramics
  • Plastics and Polymers
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Medical Devices
PLEAT SETTING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN PLEAT SETTING?

Pleat setting is a process used in filter and textile manufacturing to permanently set pleats or folds in media or fabric. Infrared heat can be utilized in this process to help achieve the desired shape and durability of the pleats. Here’s how infrared heat is typically used in pleat setting:

Preheating the Fabric: Before the pleating process begins, the fabric may be preheated using infrared heaters. This preheating step helps to soften the fibers of the fabric, making it more pliable and easier to manipulate into the desired pleat shapes.

Pleat Formation: Once the fabric is preheated, it is passed through a series of rollers or molds that create the pleats. Infrared heaters may be used in conjunction with these rollers or molds to provide additional heat, ensuring that the fabric remains pliable and that the pleats are well-defined.

Fixing the Pleats: After the pleats have been formed, infrared heaters are often used to set the pleats permanently. The media is exposed to infrared heat, which activates any sizing or chemical treatments that have been applied to the media. This helps to lock the pleats in place and prevent them from unfolding or losing their shape during subsequent processing or wear.

Controlled Temperature: Infrared heaters offer precise temperature control, allowing manufacturers to adjust the heat intensity and duration to suit the specific requirements of the fabric being pleated. This ensures that the pleats are set effectively without damaging the fabric or causing undesirable changes in its properties.

Energy Efficiency: Infrared heating can be more energy-efficient than traditional heating methods, as it directly transfers heat to the fabric without heating the surrounding air. This can result in faster processing times and lower energy consumption, making it a cost-effective option for pleat setting operations.

Overall, infrared heat plays a crucial role in pleat setting by providing efficient and controlled heating, which is essential for creating well-defined, durable pleats in filter media fabric. Here are some industries where pleat setting is commonly used:

  • Filtration
  • Fashion and Apparel
  • Home Furnishings
  • Automotive
  • Industrial Textiles
SINTERING: HOW IS INFRARED HEAT USED IN SINTERING?

Infrared heat is commonly used in sintering processes, particularly in the field of powder metallurgy, ceramics, and additive manufacturing (3D printing). Sintering involves heating a powder compact or green body to a temperature below its melting point, causing adjacent particles to bond together through diffusion, resulting in densification of the material. Here’s how infrared heat is typically used in sintering:

Uniform Heating: Infrared heaters can provide uniform heating to the entire sintering chamber or to specific regions of the workpiece. This uniform heating helps ensure consistent densification and properties across the entire sintered part.

Controlled Atmosphere: In certain sintering processes, such as those involving reactive metals or ceramics, controlling the atmosphere within the sintering chamber is crucial. Infrared heaters can be used in conjunction with gas supply systems to create and maintain specific atmospheres, such as reducing, inert, or vacuum environments, to prevent oxidation or contamination of the workpiece during sintering.

Rapid Heating and Cooling: Infrared heaters can rapidly heat the workpiece to the desired sintering temperature, reducing processing times and increasing productivity. Additionally, infrared heaters can be quickly turned off to facilitate rapid cooling of the sintered part, minimizing cycle times and improving overall efficiency.

Selective Sintering: In additive manufacturing processes like selective laser sintering (SLS), infrared heat sources can be used to preheat the powder bed before selective laser exposure. This preheating step improves powder bed fusion by reducing thermal gradients and stresses within the part, resulting in higher-quality and more uniform sintered components.

Energy Efficiency: Infrared sintering processes are often more energy-efficient compared to conventional heating methods, as they directly transfer heat to the workpiece without heating the surrounding environment. This can result in reduced energy consumption and lower operating costs.

Overall, infrared heat plays a critical role in sintering processes by providing efficient, uniform heating, and controlled atmospheres, resulting in high-quality, dense, and fully consolidated sintered components. Here are some industries where pleat setting is employed:

  • Powder Metallurgy
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • 3D Printing
  • Injection Molding
  • Batteries and Electronics
MATERIALS: PLASTICS

PROTHERM, LLC has supplied thousands of Series CB Heaters for thermoforming, in many sizes and zone configurations. Series CB Heaters have proven to have excellent life and uniformity. For other plastics applications PROTHERM builds a series of ovens, with and without conveyors, utilizing our Series CB and Series FS Heaters. Ovens are designed for specific applications, ranging from simple top heat only to heater arrangement for complex shapes, including articulated side heaters.

Thermoforming: Sheet feed and inline

Pultrusion: Post heat; Dry paint / cure finishes

Extrusion: Annealing; Pre-heat prior to belling; Spot heat for cutting; Pre-heat prior to bending

Injection Molding: Pre-heat molds; Annealing thermoplastics parts

Injection Blow Molding: Annealing thermoplastics parts

Blow Molding: Profile ring heaters for gauging; Profile heating over tenter frame to orient film both axially and biaxially

MATERIALS: FILTERS

PROTHERM, LLC has many heaters and systems throughout the filter industry. A number of the manufacturers have multiple systems which have successfully increased line speeds, improving quality and in less space than previous processes. A few of the applications serviced are plastisol pre-gel and full cure, and media pleat setting. With our proven experience and testing facilities, we would like to assist you in working with new applications or showing how the benefits can help your requirements.

MATERIALS: TEXTILES

PROTHERM, LLC has hundreds of heaters in textile and converting applications, each custom designed for proven quality and reliability. Utilizing our highly efficient F, FS, and FSA Series Heaters with the precise combination of airflow, we are able to meet your particular application need. Using electric infrared heat, we are able to finish your process in a small amount of space. With our experience processing webs ranging from 8″ to 252″ wide at speeds of 5′ to 850′ per minute, we would like to help you choose the correct heating method for your process application. From simple heater arrays to complete web ovens, we can complete a project from product analysis and testing, to design, to final build, and we provide installation and start-up support.