One example of a curing process done in a curing oven is powder coating, which is a kind of curing, is the process of applying a powdered thermoplastic resin to a surface by means of static electricity. When exposed to heat in a curing oven, the powder gels and forms a protective layer on a product’s surface.
Furniture, automotive, marine, aerospace and many other industries use powder coating as a curative process for protecting and enhancing the appearance of product components. Curing ovens can also be used for preheating, drying and curing various parts and coatings in addition to powder coating.
Vulcanization, or rubber curing, requires the application of heat and chemicals in order to strengthen rubber products and is performed in curing ovens. Other processes that make use of curing ovens include metal finishing, sintering, baking and temperature testing.
Despite the extensive variety of materials that are cured in industrial contexts, the curing behavior of most materials is nearly identical. In resin materials, the goal of curing is the cross linking of polymer chains, which results in improved strength qualities. This is achieved by adding heat, and in some cases, chemical additives.
In metals, if oxidization (degradation of surfaces because of unwanted exposure to oxygen) can be prevented, strength and durability can be improved by heat curing. Specially designed vacuum ovens are designed to allow for curing under strictly controlled chemical and atmospheric conditions when oxidization must be avoided. Curing ovens are built with steel frames and steel insulated panels as well as heating elements.
The ovens can be powered by natural gas or electricity and can be designed as batch ovens or, less frequently, conveyor ovens. Manufacturers often custom-design curing ovens to meet certain industry-specific applications. Specialized curative methods exist for improving the qualities of paint and carbon fiber material, and UV exposure was discovered as a curative for some products relatively recently.