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Solar Products Case Study on Paint and Powder

Solar Products Flat-faced Radiant Panel Heaters
Solar Products, Inc.
228 Wanaque Ave 
Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442


Thomas lighting is a manufacturer of 2' x 4' fluorescent lighting fixtures for commercial and industrial markets. The fixtures are powder coated white polyester in the first stage of the process. The powder is presently being cured in a convection oven. The second stage requires two black stripes of paint along each 4' edge. The black lines are used for decorative purposes when return air grilles are designed into the lighting fixture.

The electric infrared oven achieved all of the goals for a new curing oven:

  • faster drying and curing
  • minimal floor space
  • reduced maintenance requirements
  • low energy consumption
  • reasonable capital expenditures
  • less time to heat up and cool down
  • no products of combustion generated


Floor Space
It was estimated that a 50' long gas convection oven would have been required for this application. The infrared oven length is 16'. A 68% savings on floor space.

A gas convection oven would require service several times per year. The electric infrared oven requires virtually no service. Normal maintenance practice would suggest that the electrical connections should be checked every 12 to 18 months. The Solar Products heaters have a typical life expectancy of 25,000 hours, which means that Thomas Lighting can focus on other problems and not worry about the Conversion Processes oven for a long time.

Line Speed
It is often thought that electric infrared is too costly to operate, but that statement is a misconception. This oven has a total power input of 96 kw. But, in operation, the oven draws less than 45 kw. At 5 cent per kw hr, that equates to 2.25 per hour to operate the infrared heaters. With 540 parts per hour moving through the oven, that is less than 1/2 of 1 cent per part for the drying and curing process. Even if we account for line stoppages and start up, the cost per part cannot exceed 1 cent per part. It is often stated that the cost of energy for paint and powder applications is less than 1 % of the product selling price. Surely, that is true in this case.

The Coating
In the past, a high solvent based paint was used for the black coating. The solvent based paint was air dried for 24 hours. With EPA regulations in full effect, the decision was made to switch over to a water based latex coating for this black striping. After switching over to the water based paint, it was discovered, that 24 hours was not enough time to air-dry the coating. The decision was made to purchase an oven to help the drying and curing process.

The Benefits
The customer had serious space limitations and could not allow for a shut down to install a new drying and curing oven. After careful consideration, it was determined that an infrared oven was the right choice for the job. The new oven was designed with two separate halves. This construction allowed for installation without effecting or stopping the existing line. The infrared oven also required 68% less floor space than a gas convection oven. The drying oven is only operated when the black stripes are applied to the product, namely 4 days per week for 6 hours per day. The customer did not want to wait for extended times while the oven heated up and cooled down. The infrared oven requires 5 minutes for heat up and 5-10 minutes for cool down. A gas convection oven would require much more time for both heat up and cool down. An infrared oven allows for more flexibility in applying the black striping without effecting the complete finishing system. The oven was designed with electric infrared heaters, which do not generate products of combustion. In this case, there was no requirement for an exhaust system. That meant no roof penetrations were required and therefore no permits were required for installation of new oven. All of these reasons added up to the ultimate decision to go with an electric infrared oven from Conversion Processes Corp.

The Details
The oven consists of (16) 12" x 48" Solar Products F-Series panel heaters rated at 10 wsi. The heated area is 4' high by 16' long. The oven design is single sided heat with a metal reflector on the opposite side. The oven has one zone with the heaters operating at 850oF. The part moves through the oven by means of an overhead conveyor. The part hangs with the 2' side parallel to the ground. The paint is 1-1.5 mil thick and requires 40 seconds in the oven for the drying and curing process. The parts are moving at 24 fpm equaling 540 parts per hour. After cool down, the parts are stacked in the final assembly area.

Specifications Details
Part description 2' X 4' fluorescent lighting fixtures
Coating Water based paint 1 - 1.5 mils thick
Coating application Automatic spray
Length of oven 16' long oven
No. of panels (16) 12" X 48" - 4' high, 16' long
Oven type Electric infrared
No. of zones 1 zone operating at 850o F
Heater type Solar Products F- Series panel heaters
Input power 95kw for the heaters
Actual power usage less than 45kw
Conveyor type Overhead monorail
Conveyor speed 24 feet per minute
Production rate 540 parts per hour
Dry and cure time
(dwell time)
40 seconds


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5880 Alpine Ave. NW - Comstock Park, MI 49321  USA
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