A powder coater’s oven is both their strength and their weakness.
Kaser’s large oven is 12’ tall x 14’ wide x 30’ long. It’s essentially a whole room made of thick, insulated panels and a 2.5 million BTU burn box on top, which puts out a significant, gas-powered flame. Large fans circulate the heat while tiny ones suck out any off-gassing. As the ambient temperature rises to about 400 degrees F, the substrate heats up, allowing the powder coating to flow out, cross link, and cure.
We have a second, smaller oven, which we tend to use for drying off parts after pretreatment. Both ovens run all day long. They’re the heartbeat of our operation.
If parts don’t fit in the oven, they don’t get powder coated, and when the oven stops working, so do we.
The problem with specialized equipment like this is that there’s no one to call when it breaks. I’ve learned the hard way that I’d better have spare burner, blower, and motor parts onsite, because even overnight shipping feels like an eternity when production is halted.
Job shops in remote locations, take note: if you’re ordering spare parts, get duplicates. There will come a day where your shop’s production depends on your ability to fix the oven, so get to know your equipment before disaster strikes.
The best cure for oven troubles is prevention. I recommend the following:
Keep your oven clean. This means inspecting the burner box regularly – checking for warping, debris, etc – and sweeping the oven floor every day.
Check your seals. Don’t make your burner work harder than it has to.
Invest in an oven data pack. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s the only way to know for sure where your cold spots are. I recommend doing this a couple of times a year, or before you embark on a large project. The more you know about your oven’s performance, the more more accurately you can dial in the cure time and temperature.
Follow Lock Out Tag Out procedures. I shudder to think what would happen if someone turned the oven on while someone else was inspecting the burner box. It’s not worth the risk. Take the time to perform your maintenance safely.
Gas powered convection ovens like mine aren’t the only option available to you. IR ovens and hybrid ovens that combine IR technology with convection technology are both available. Each one has it’s advantages. If you’re weighing the pros and cons, or have questions about a convection setup, please give me a call. This is a topic I enjoy.