In almost every basic chemical process, the temperature is one of the foremost considerations, as a change in temperature can lead to both physical and chemical changes in a property. As a result, being able to heat or cool a substance to a certain temperature is a necessity in a scientific laboratory.
This is the purpose of specially-designed laboratory ovens that enable convection, or a transfer of heat by means of air or water. With an economy driven by science and technology, particularly the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and materials development industries, SupaGEEK Designs notes that laboratory ovens are a must for the leading companies of New Jersey.
Here is a bit more about them, along with some of their most important functions in the Garden State’s top industries:
Drying, wherein moisture is removed from the sample, is the most ubiquitous function of a laboratory oven. The process of how this is achieved is what differentiates between the three types of laboratory ovens.
Gravity (natural) convection ovens are the cheapest option and involve using airflow generated from a fan to create a convection current that transfers heat within the oven. Because of this, the temperature inside the oven is not uniform.
Mechanical (forced) convection ovens, however, use a motorized fan to circulate air throughout the chamber of the oven, resulting in a more uniform distribution of air. This also creates a more uniform distribution of warm air compared with a gravity convection oven.
Lastly, a vacuum drying oven introduces dry air into the chamber, resulting in moisture being extracted from the substance and pumped out of the chamber. This is used when the procedure requires an inert atmosphere, which is usually the case with delicate drying processes.
Annealing involves heating materials like steel or glass and then cooling these down later. This is done to reduce hardness and increase ductility in the substance. Because of this process, high-temperature ovens are usually required in annealing.
The annealing process allows previously hard materials to be cut and shaped more easily so that they can be used in the production of other materials. This makes annealing a common process in industries such as metallurgy and materials development.
It also has some applications in healthcare, wherein plastics are annealed in the manufacturing of medical devices and the production of catheters and syringes.
Curing is a combination of drying and baking (where moisture is removed from the air inside the oven chamber). The loss of moisture in the substance thus ends up hardening it, resulting in increased molecular bond strength.
Curing is thus used in the production of glues, epoxies, plastics, and rubber in the industries of polymer research, nanotechnology, and semiconductor manufacturing. As the process results in increased bond strength, curing is also used to install components directly onto circuits, primarily in military, space, and medical systems.
Other standard functions of laboratory ovens include sterilizing equipment and testing materials or products to determine their tensile strength and resiliency. However, laboratory ovens can also serve specialized functions, especially in laboratories that perform unique processes.
Some examples of these functions are:
- In forensics, vacuum drying ovens are specially configured for fingerprint development.
- Gravity (natural) convection ovens are used to remove microbiological contaminants from laboratory equipment.
- Environmental laboratories use ovens to dry a substance, then compare its mass to that before it was dried, in order to measure moisture content.
Clearly, laboratory ovens play an important role in science. To further our country’s innovation, research, and development, it is, therefore, crucial to recognize this and invest in this one-of-a-kind resource.