Infrared Systems Optimize Energy Efficiency in Plastics Processing

Plastic components are welded significantly faster using precisely controllable infrared systems
Plastic components are welded significantly faster using precisely controllable infrared systems

Kleinostheim, July 2022

Plastics are clad, laminated or stamped and embossed as well as being welded, riveted and deburred. This is costly and the associated heating processes require a lot of energy. It is much better when the energy is applied only when it is needed.

Electrical infrared emitters fit the bill exactly, can make complex heating processes reliable and allow them to be automated. Infrared systems have very fast response times and ensure that energy is not dissipated by pre-heating, standby setting or losses to the surrounding environment.

At Messe K in Duesseldorf, Heraeus Noblelight will be showing infrared emitters and systems which transfer heat especially efficiently.

Is Heat just Heat? Infrared emitters make the difference.

A case study from Great Britain demonstrates how the application of infrared emitters can significantly improve plastics processing. This involves the manufacture of components of an inspection tool for checking underground plastic drainage pipes, where the polypropylene components need to be joined to a base unit. This was previously carried out by a hot melt adhesive process. However, the company involved, Hepworth Drainage, were looking for more efficient solutions, to save costs and to comply with environmental responsibilities.

The new infrared system from Heraeus Noblelight now needs just 22 seconds to bring the various components together and carry out the welding in a complex automated process using robots. As a result, the cycle time for the manufacture of plastic inspection chambers at Hepworth has been significantly reduced and their quality greatly improved. The new heating process is also environmentally friendly as, in contrast to the previous hot melt methods, fumes have been drastically reduced.

These process improvements are further supported by infrared, as the product is processed three dimensionally and the heat is applied exactly where it is needed. Infrared emitters only need to be switched on when heat is actually required and this helps to save energy.

Infrared heat for the efficient application of energy

Infrared heating technology works by the transfer of electromagnetic waves to a product, where they generate heat. Consequently, there is no direct contact with the material nor is there any need for a transfer medium such as gas or air. Infrared emitters transfer energy into a plastic product and generate heat precisely where it is needed. This helps to solve many problems.

Quartz glass infrared emitters can be molded to match exactly corners, edges and small surfaces. For example, in motor manufacture, it is not necessary to heat the complete car door, but only those points which have to be riveted, welded or deburred.