Types of Ovens – A Thomas Buying Guide
Ovens are enclosed and insulated structures—generally chambers or tunnels—capable of producing ambient to very high (1000+°F) temperatures which are used to heat raw material, parts, and products for a multitude of processing applications, such as baking, curing, and drying. There is a wide range of characteristics by which this processing equipment can be designed and constructed—including heating source (e.g., radiant, electric, gas-fired, wood, etc.), multiple heating zones, airflow pattern (e.g., horizontal/vertical, vertical/horizontal, full horizontal/vertical, etc.), horizontal vs. vertical configuration, maximum load capacity and operating temperature, control and automation components, industrial and safety standards, etc. —and their breadth effectively ensures that there can be an oven suitable for almost any, if not every, application.
Before selecting an oven and deciding on any of the above-mentioned design characteristics, it is essential to determine and define the heat processing application. This consideration is important because, as heat processing is widely employed throughout industry, the exact requirements and specifications can vary widely from function to function and application to application. Therefore, ovens are typically designed and constructed to meet the demands of a specific function or application.
Some of the common functions and applications for which ovens are employed include:
- Batch production
- Continuous production
As suggested by the name, baking ovens are typically used for baking applications within the food processing and production industries. Baking processes employ heated air—provided by the oven—which produces physical and chemical changes in food and food products altering the flavor, texture, and moisture content to improve the overall quality and increase the product’s shelf life.
Baking ovens are available in several different designs with options for additional functionality, such as deck ovens, roll-in-rack ovens, rotary ovens, and revolving ovens.
Curing ovens are used to cure—i.e., set—a material to achieve and maintain a specific hardness or texture. The curing process creates a chemical and/or physical reaction within the material after a specific temperature is achieved within the curing oven, which helps improve the material’s strength, durability, and textural finish.
Some of the applications in which curing processes are required, and, consequently, curing ovens are employed, include powder coating operations, ceramic product production, and adhesive application.
Drying ovens are designed to reduce the moisture content within raw materials, parts, and products. While other types of ovens—such as baking and curing ovens—may provide some drying capabilities as a secondary operation to their intended purposes, the primary function of drying ovens is to perform drying operations.
This function lends itself to a variety of processes, including dehydration, evaporation, incubation, and sterilization, such as in food product dehydration, ceramic curing, and paint drying applications.
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