In order to be competitive, every industry must constantly reinvent itself; innovation pushes the limits of what is possible in every industrial and commercial context. The manufacturing sector requires active, robust research and development departments and programs in order to develop new products and new ways of making products. Of particular interest to R&D efforts in the manufacturing sector is the development of manufacturing methods that reduce cost, improve quality and increase production efficiency.
Laboratory ovens provide testing grounds for a large variety of manufacturing-sector research and development departments. Because an extensive variety of industrial and consumer products are heat treated in some way, an equally extensive variety of heat treatment methods are required to produce those products. Each method of production was designed in a lab, where, under controlled circumstances, materials and equipment were tested.
While the applications of lab ovens are diverse and often specialized, the basic concept of an oven is not. An oven is an insulated, enclosed space that is heated in order to treat a product. From there the variations begin, but even specialized lab ovens exist to serve the purpose of thermal processing. Since all varieties of ovens originated in R&D departments, all varieties of ovens exist in lab settings.
Conveyor ovens and batch ovens alike are used to test curing, drying and powder coating processes. A given conveyor or batch oven that tests a curing process can use quartz, natural gas or electricity as its heat source. An electric oven can utilize convection or infrared radiant heating as its heating method.
The only difference between ovens in lab settings and ovens that are found in manufacturing markets is the design standard; an oven that is testing a new heat treatment process must have the capacity to cope with unexpected consequences of testing a new process.
Often, lab ovens will require certification from standards bureaus like the American Society for Testing and Materials. In medical research settings, the standards may be even stricter, as lab oven equipment may be used to conduct experiments with hazardous chemicals or pathogenic material.