Case Study: Heat-Shrinking Test Unit For Automotive Sector
To improve an inefficient and slow manual system, Ceramicx were given the green light to design and build a standalone, multi-zone, infrared heating test unit. Using a series of SFEH 600W ceramic infrared heating elements, the system is custom-designed to give a faster process, with more efficiency and consistency in the heat-shrinking of plastic and textile cloth wrapping for rigid rubber tubing.
The aims for accuracy and consistency
As a leading industrial specialist, ContiTech is a division of the global Continental Corporation and provide products and systems made of rubber and plastic for a range of key industries. ContiTech needed a faster system based on accuracy and consistency for their high-performance rubber pipe and tubing products used across the automotive and manufacturing sectors.
Wanting to move away from their current inefficient and slow system, a shift in direction towards a new, fully automated system would ensure the speed, efficiency, and accuracy their production processes required.
The challenge was on to create this new infrared system. Our Hungarian Ceramicx distributor, Szinimpex, communicated with the ContiTech engineers extensively before passing the critical information to Ceramicx. We then looked to design and build an appropriate testing unit to explore the materials that needed to be considered to help find the right solution.
The Ceramicx solution
With ongoing discussions between Szinimpex and ContiTech over production techniques, requirements, and specifications, the project details were passed to Ceramicx to prepare detailed drawings. With no limitations or restrictions on design, we were able to create a standalone testing oven that could be moved easily from location to location whenever needed.
Using a solid frame built from AISI 304 stainless steel, the heating system is designed and built featuring an adjustable top heat platen and mesh test tray with a fixed bottom heat platen. With dimensions of 530 x 530mm (21 x 21”), both upper and lower platens are fitted with polished 0.75mm aluminium clad steel reflectors. Each platen features Ceramicx hollow ceramic elements with quick-connect plugs used to connect power and the thermocouples inside each panel:
- 600W SFEH (Black) 230/240V x 15
- 600W SFEH (Black) 230/240V with embedded Type K thermocouple x 1
With low power energy-efficiency, each long-wave element gives a mean surface temperature of 602ºC.
|Total power||19.2 kW – Top platen: 9.6 kW / Bottom platen: 9.6 kW|
|Dimensions||530mm x 530mm (21” x 21”)|
|Heater type||15 x SFEH 600W 230/240V – Black (2x)
1 x SFEH 600W 230/240V TC/K – Black (2x)
|Frame||AISI 304 Stainless Steel|
|Enclosure dimensions||600mm x 800mm x 250mm (23” x 31” x 10”)|
|Adjustable||Top heating platen and mesh test tray|
|Fixed||Bottom heating platen|
|Control||PID temperature controllers (x 2) and closed loop control|
|Electrical termination||Via flexible metallic conduit f/w quick connect plug for power and thermocouple|
|Reflectors||0.75mm aluminium clad stainless steel|
Once assembled at the ContiTech premises in Hungary, the oven underwent a thorough, six-hour testing period with Szinimpex owner, Szinisa Kovács and Contitech Development Engineer, Szűcs László. Using 14 different sized products and key components of plastic and textile cloth wrapping, each test was recorded for optimal oven temperature and distance ranges as well as precision timing.
Overall, each test resulted in a positive outcome and proved especially successful in tests for smaller products using plastic contraction tubes and textile-based materials. Additional testing is ongoing for larger products which use the oven’s internal mounting supports, though these are minor with the main testing still proving successful.
Growing continental relationships
This Ceramicx/Szinimpex infrared heat testing system gives ContiTech the peace of mind they need to take their production methods forward. By having a solid foundation on which to base their future automated heat-shrinking machinery, they’re in a great position to meet – and exceed – their output and production targets while improving consistency levels across the board.
But this project has also highlighted our growing relationship with our distributors, Szinimpex. Our working relationship and resulting business with them has increased significantly over the last three years. And, by working alongside them, and global customers like ContiTech, we very much hope it will continue its current trajectory.