What is a PCB Curing Oven?
A curing oven is a heating chamber used in the PCB industry for fast & efficiently curing conformal coating, inks, and adhesives in a controlled, heated environment. Curing is the chemical process (such as polymerization) that creates crosslinking (strong chemical bond) between the surface and adhesive/coating. In this curing oven, the curing process is performed by using heat energy.
Heat plays an important role in PCB curing ovens. IR (infrared) curing ovens and UV (ultraviolet) curing ovens are commonly used in the PCB industry. This oven consists of a chamber with IR/UV light emitters and control unit. Both infrared light and Ultraviolet light are electromagnetic energy. The IR curing oven utilizes IR (infrared) light, and the UV curing oven utilizes UV (ultraviolet) light as the heat source to cure surface finishes, inks, and adhesives. During operation, the IR/UV light directly heats the exposed coated surface for the curing process (chemical bond formation).
Infrared is a longer wavelength than ultraviolet. In general, the energy of the EM wave is inversely proportional to wavelength, so, the energy (in this case, heat) increases as wavelength decreases. So the IR light has lower energy than UV light. Hence, the UV oven quickly cures the coated surface as compared to the IR oven, but the UV oven is expensive. Both the IR and UV ovens have their own merits & demerits.
The curing ovens can be used for large or small volume applications and are available both in in-line and bench-top types. The in-line curing machine is used with a conveyor line and is ideal for high-volume curing applications. The curing ovens are available to easily integrate with different conformal coating machines.
The curing oven system features SMEMA communication and a touch screen control interface that integrates into new or existing factory automation lines or can also be used stand-alone. These ovens can handle multiple boards, and the operator controls the machine with the operator interface. They can support manual operation and automatic operation.
Key specifications details of curing oven:
PCB size: It is the maximum size of the PCB that can be handled by the curing oven and is represented in length mm x breadth mm.
Conveyer direction: Represents the conveyor direction. It usually supports left to right and right to left direction.
Heating time: Represents the minimum time required by the oven for heating to perform curing operation. It is usually expressed in minutes.
Curing zone length: Represents the curing zone length of the machine in mm.