There are a variety of uses for laboratory ovens, particularly in terms of thermal processing applications such as laboratory work, testing of component and stability, glassware drying and sterilization. A laboratory oven is a thermal processing unit of lower temperature which is usually at or below 1400 degrees. It also does not have refractory insulation.
An alternative name for the oven is a kiln. With a very high temperature, the kiln is used to burn ceramics and heat minerals. When burning ceramics, the kiln is set at very high heat, usually at 2300 F or higher. However, the kiln is ran at a lower temperature when used to dry wood products. Laboratory ovens are also used for common industrial processes as well as other applications such as aging, baking, curing, pre-heating, burn-off, drying, melting, hot press, quenching, sintering, soldering, sterilizing and others.
Temperature range is topmost specification for a laboratory oven. Temperature range is the maximum temperature for the laboratory oven to run and still keep its performance rating. The volume of the unit’s interior space, when heated, is also a standard that needs to be considered. Another important consideration when identifying specific oven types is pressure range.
These products can have any one of a number of configurations which include cabinet, conveyor; muffle; walk-in and vertical. A cabinet or bench oven is a small classification of equipment that is set up on integral stands. Cabinet ovens are commonly used to process product quantities in one batch. On the other hand, a conveyor or continuous unit tends to lean towards automated greater quantity production of items that have small to medium sizes. In a conveyor oven, the kind of system used is dependent on work volume to be produced, obtainable temperature and product line.
Meanwhile, the muffle or tube oven uses indirect heating, in which the material to heat is stored in an outside heated refractory container. The muffle oven uses a space-saving vertical configuration. Compared to a horizontal configuration, the vertical type usually has a greater height clearance requirement. Vertical configuration, however, does not mean the airflow direction. Also known as a truck-in oven, a walk-in is a bigger batch equipment, which is usually made of two doors as well as integral shelves and carts. A walk-on oven is used to process larger product quantities in one batch.
Two other important specifications for laboratory ovens are control and heating. Controls can come in either programmable or single set point configuration. A programmable laboratory oven can be set to reach various temperatures at various time intervals while a single set point oven has a specific point of temperature to reach once it is activated. Another important specification, which is heat source can come in any of a number of common types such as arc, induction, combustion, contact, resistance, indirect, natural gas, infrared, rf, propane, steam, microwave or oil.
In addition, another equally important consideration when for an oven specification is atmosphere. There are several common types of atmospheres. These include air, inert, salt bath and reducing.
Other common features that comprise laboratory ovens are air filtration, alarms, explosion proof construction, logging options, shelving and cooling systems.
Like any other thermal processing unit, one should exercise care and caution when operating lab ovens to avoid accidents from happening. It is important to be informed first of what to and what not to do when using a laboratory oven.