Laboratory ovens are used in a wide range of applications in industries such as biotech, pharmaceuticals and materials manufacturing. These industries often require the process of baking, curing, annealing and drying materials of varying chemical and physical compositions. Many of these process applications are unique in their end-result and require assorted types of lab ovens.
Laboratory ovens are ovens for high-forced volume thermal convection applications. These ovens generally provide uniform temperatures throughout. Process applications for laboratory ovens can be for Polyimide, sterilizing, and other industrial laboratory functions. Typical sizes are from one cubic foot to 0.9 cubic meters (32 cu ft) with temperatures that can be over 340 degrees Celsius. Laboratory ovens can be used in numerous different applications and configurations, including clean rooms, forced convection, horizontal airflow, inert atmosphere, natural convection, and pass through.
Standard and Specialized Lab Oven Applications
Standard applications of most laboratory ovens involve heating and drying glassware or autoclaving lab supplies for sterilization purposes. Laboratory ovens are also commonly used for performing material testing to determine tensile strength, deformation, and resiliency of many manufactured products. Standard use for lab ovens includes testing and troubleshooting processes.
Types of Laboratory Ovens
· Heavy Duty Ovens
Used in industrial applications, these robust ovens are bolstered with heavy duty fittings and furnishings to stand up to their drying and curing usages.
· Standard Digital Ovens
Built for general purposes such as heating and drying, standard digital ovens are built to offer accuracy, control and safety.
· Hot Box Ovens
Built for environments where absolute accuracy is not particularly necessary, but will appropriately bake the samples being tested.
· Wax Melting Ovens
Used to melt and maintain wax for the purpose of histology (the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues of plants and animals).
The Uses of Lab Ovens
At their most basic, laboratory ovens can also be used to sterilize lab equipment and glassware, carried out in a hot air oven, the ideal temperature needs to be at least 160°C, with contents monitored at this heat for 45 to 60 minutes. Other uses include:
The process of annealing involves heating and then cooling material, such as glass or steel, in order to reduce hardness and increase ductility. High-temperature ovens are used in this process, often in the application of metallurgy, medical device manufacturing and material science industries. These annealed materials can be cut and shaped more readily to be used in the production of things such as syringes and catheters.
· Die-bond curing
Through a combination of drying and baking, lab ovens cure substances in order to harden their chemical composition. This is a means of creating epoxies, glues, plastics and rubbers used in polymer research, nanotechnology and semiconductor industries. The increased bond strength is also exceptionally useful in adhering components directly onto circuitry, many of which are used in military, space and medical systems.
A necessity for many environmental, biological and clinical labs; gravity convection, forced air and vacuum ovens are used in the drying of samples to remove moisture from them.
Forced air and vacuum ovens are best suited to samples that are easily broken down, as these remove moisture and lower the boiling point of water, letting the sample to be dried at a lower temperature.
Gravity convection ovens, meanwhile, are often used to dry fine particles as these are liable to scatter with high air flow and need a more natural airflow in order to protect these delicate samples.
· Polyimide baking
Added to the oven in liquid form, the polyimide is then thermally baked to create a thin film or a layer for various uses, including stress buffer coating for redistribution layers, adhesion, chip bonding and much more.
Additionally, lab ovens are employed to perform material testing, analyzing attributes such as determine tensile strength, deformation and resiliency of manufactured products, solder strength in circuit boards and more.
Lab ovens are also used in biological, forensic and environmental labs where their uses are more specialized. In forensic labs, specially configured vacuum ovens are used to develop fingerprints, while biological labs use gravity convection ovens to remove microbiological contaminants in lab equipment, along with vacuum ovens in order to adhere substrates to the surface of filters. Elsewhere, environmental laboratories weigh specimens before and after drying to determine their moisture content.
Natural Sciences about Laboratory Ovens
Here are a few examples of how the natural sciences are utilizing laboratory ovens to advance the pace of research:
- Forensic labs use specially configured vacuum ovens as fingerprint development chambers
- Biological laboratories employ gravity convection ovens for removal of microbiological contaminants in lab ware and vacuum ovens for adhering substrates to the surface of filters and other media
- Environmental laboratories dry specimens in laboratory ovens, weighing the samples before and after drying, to determine the moisture content of the sample. Gravity convection and forced-air ovens are used for these types of processes
- “Laboratory Ovens UK”. laboratory-ovens.co.uk. Cooper Group. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
Written by Oluwakemi Adi for Applied Analytical Systems ltd