Insul-Vest Inc. (Booth S955) of Tulsa, Okla., transforms an old industrial technology in its new infrared-radiant barrel heater of nonconductive vacuum-cast ceramic fiber.
For two decades, Insul-Vest has made high-temperature insulation blankets to go over heater bands. ``It kept ringing in my ear that we were putting a Band-Aid over the problem,'' said President Gordon Pendergraft.
With an Insul-Watt-brand heater, a processor can maintain a precise set temperature on an injection molding machine. The system improves the performance of customary, tight-fitting devices that use conduction heat, he said.
The technology is targeted for use in plants experiencing drafts, overheating or inconsistent temperatures. In laboratory tests, ``we are holding to within 1° F,'' Pendergraft said.
Pendergraft credits the heater's feasibility to the insulation properties of ceramic fiber and the thermal-loop closure using Watlow's SD Series temperature controllers, Din-a-Mite solid-state power controllers and Watview PC-based HMI communications software.
Changes in barrel temperature can occur immediately and save energy. An optional vacuum can draw away hot air from the entire heater and, simultaneously, pull in cool ambient air. The captured barrel heat is available to dry resin pellets or warm the plant.
Custom injection molder Kansas Plastics Co. of Wellington, Kan., began using an Insul-Watt heater on a 700-ton Van Dorn in early 2002.
Elsewhere, a test on a 4,000-ton Ube continues after more than one year.
Insul-Vest, which employs 15, expects to price the new product competitively with upscale hardened ceramic bead-type heaters and cast-in heaters.
Under a license, Rex Roto Corp. of Fowlerville, Mich., manufactures the heaters using wire more than three times as thick as wire in a conventional heater band. Recessed electrical connections eliminate any bare-wire exposure.
Insul-Vest obtained domestic and European patent protection on the heater in November and has air-movement patent applications pending.
Typically, users of ceramic fiber operate crucible furnaces for melting precious metals and electric-fired furnaces at temperatures much higher than those for processing plastics. By comparison, Insul-Watt is a low-temperature application.