Heraeus Assists Metsa to Improve Output, Quality and Reduce Operating Costs

Heraeus Assists Metsa to Improve Output, Quality and Reduce Operating Costs


Propane tank manufacturer Metsa, is a family-owned and operated propane tank manufacturing company. For more than 50 years, they have been involved in the sale and distribution of propane tanks, so Heraeus completely understands the high level of quality and specifications required on every pressure vessel.

Increased Sales, Insufficient Space and the need for Quality Improvements

Due to US expansion, the company was running out of room in the powder coating department at a time when sales were increasing.
The existing process required hand applied powder coatings that were cured using a propane powered, batch convection oven system. Unfortunately, this oven was only partially curing the larger tanks due to uneven air flow which caused large temperature differentials from top to bottom of the tanks. The problem occurred especially around the heavier collars and angular support feet.

Potentially, this could lead to quality issues in shipments, poor resistance to sunlight and even color variances.

With the increased level of business and competition, shorter lead times were being demanded by distributors along with a marked increase in output and overall quality improvements of the cured coating.

Change from Batch to In-Line Powder Coating

The decision was made to change the batch process into an in-line system. Space was at a premium, and with a required line speed of
.75 – 1 m/min, depending on product size, the oven length was a major factor in the decision making process.
Testing was initiated at the Heraeus plant in Buford GA. and it was quickly determined from testing of full scale 115 kg tanks, that a dwell time of 15 mins would be required for the catalytic IR oven and small tanks would cure in 10 mins.
A 10m IR oven was designed to meet the line speed requirement and an overhead conveyor was installed. The existing powder booth was re-configured to fit the in-line system.

Process Benefits of the new line

The use and control of the 10 zones along the length of the oven permitted precise temperature control from the bottom to the top of the oven as well as from entrance to exit. This exceptional level of zone control allows extra intensity to be applied at the bottom of the tanks where the extra angular metal feet are located. This completely eliminated the under cured and over baked areas
Due to the fact that the longwave IR is emitted in a half hemisphere – (see diagram), there are many waves of IR radiating from the panel from the multitude of catalytic reaction sites. The ray trace shows the radiation from a group of heaters (see diagram), ensures an even distribution of radiation that encapsulates the entire tank.

Additional benefits that ensured an 18 month return on investment.

Besides achieving an evenly, well cured powder coating, there were a number of additional benefits that have been realized since production started:

  • By switching to Natural Gas from Propane, the monthly operating costs dropped from $4,000 to $1,000.
  • Faster cycle times over the batch process reduced not only operating costs but production volume has increased with no increase in labor overheads.
  • Maintenance costs were substantially reduced – there was a constant maintenance factor on the old burner system and cleaning the batch oven to stop powder contamination from one batch to the next.
  • Faster cool down time – because IR heats the coating, the entire tank does not have to reach the cure temperature. This allows for reduced dwell time in the IR oven and ensures that the tanks cool much more quickly than the old process.
  • With the faster cool down, external fittings could be added to the tank while it was still on the production line. Previously the tanks were moved outside as they took so long to cool down.
  • Reject rates have been significantly reduced, which frees up the blasting/cleaning system from processing the quality rejects.

All of these gains permitted a ROI of less than 18 months on the oven and line upgrade costs.
The CEO of Metsa, Humberto Garza, remarked:

“What is really important to METSA is to have the peace of mind that we build stellar products. Great attention to detail is given in selecting the best materials and equipment to ensure the best quality and design for each of our tanks. Heraeus was an instrumental partner in setting up our revolutionary and automated paint line. We look forward to working with them on other projects.”














Life Fitness doubles its production due to gas catalytic infrared

Life Fitness doubles its production due to gas catalytic infrared

Two gas catalytic ovens from Heraeus are helping Life Fitness in Illinois, USA to double production and save costs.

The new system was installed quickly during scheduled facility down-time and was operational in less than a month.
Life Fitness has been offering high quality fitness solutions for 45 years to benefit both facilities and exercisers, using a wide range of cardio, strength and group training products. The fitness equipment is coated with powder lacquer, which is cured by heating. The predicted growth in their product line and coating schemes required a significant expansion of their powder coating operation with only a limited increase in plant size. Until now the curing process was achieved exclusively with a convection oven. Some parts require two top coats and these are rehung after the first coat to facilitate the second coat and cure. In order to integrate single and double coated parts into the continuous flow line, whilst preventing powder contamination, pre-planned gaps are required to re-hang parts requiring a second coat. This process had always been an ergonomic issue as no mechanical lifts are available due to lack of space. The line was operating at 2.4 m/min, but effectively with the double application, the part yield for two coat parts was only 50%. One option was to add another convection oven to cure the first coat before applying the second coat. Since floor space was at a premium this was not going to be a feasible or a cost-effective alternative.
The smartest solution was to add two Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Ovens from Heraeus. After successful tests were carried out in our Buford facility, a two-line system was launched. Today, two lines run parallel, one for parts with one coating and one for parts with two coatings. Each line has a gas catalytic infrared oven and a corresponding paint booth. For the final curing, the lines run through the existing convection oven. This system achieved the desired 2.4m/min. line speed along with the option of going to 3m/min. More importantly, even though the line speed has not changed, the output of the powder coating plant has doubled. The introduction of Gas Catalytic IR technology from Heraeus has ensured additional savings on Natural Gas and Electrical costs. The adoption of the latest technology has also attracted local Utility grants which has helped to reduce the overall capital spend.
Adam Pederson, Manufacturing Engineer of Life Fitness, says: “I have been truly impressed with final result we achieved by working with Heraeus. The process of planning, testing and implementation has been smooth and we now have a very effective powder coating system which incorporates the latest technology.”


  • Curing of powder coating on fitness equipment
  • Output of plant doubled
  • Energy and cost savings

Technical Data

  • Installation of 2 gas catalytic infrared pre gel ovens
  • Two-line system as some parts require double coating
  • Line speed from 2.4m/min. to up to 3m/min. if desired









Powder Coated Timber in the Construction Industry

Powder Coated Timber in the Construction Industry

How Gas Catalytic IR technology from Heraeus has enabled a unique breakthrough in the construction industry


Powder Coated Timber

It is often said that brilliant ideas are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Jeff Stewart, co-founder of Climate Coating Ltd, found his 1% whilst watching a large wooden wall being painted single handed by a weary decorator. If it were a steel section wall, Jeff would have powder coated it, so why not try powder coating timber to see if it worked? Then the 99% perspiration kicked in and Jeff joined up with Kyle True from the timber industry, and the rest, together with ground breaking technology from Heraeus (formerly Vulcan Catalytic Systems) is history. One of the primary problems with powder coating a timber substrate is its heat sensitivity. The time required to cure powder in a conventional hot air oven (20 – 30 minutes) would cause significant damage to the timber. The creative solution was to use Gas Catalytic IR. The IR waves are easily absorbed by the powder which will now cure (7 – 10 minutes), without overheating the substrate. The result is a patented process that is having a big impact in the construction industry.

As the world population continues to increase, the need for sustainable, low waste, energy efficient commercial and residential buildings has become a necessity. The founders of Climate Coating Ltd. in New Zealand have pioneered and patented innovative methods of creating powder coated surfaces on plywood, MDF and plasterboard. The majority of these products can be fitted without any further finishing requirements and are available pre-cut to size and in many colours. They include:

  • Pre coated plasterboard for walls and ceilings
  • Decorative MDF board for commercial fit-out
  • Moisture resistant exterior grade plywood
  • Pre primed exterior finishes that do not need to be finished for up to 3 months

So how do Climate Coating Ltd.’s products contribute to the drive for sustainability? The answer is multi layered and is evidenced not just by the product itself and its place in the market, but also by the innovative, energy efficient method of manufacture.

Product Advantages

The advantages of pre-finished products themselves are self-evident. By creating pre-finished and pre-sized materials that are commonly found in every type of construction, the reduced need for wet trades (brick laying, plastering and painting) has a significant impact on building lead time. Delays due to weather, material supply and waste are all but eliminated. Consider the number of half used tins of paint and wasted bags of plaster that are commonly seen on building sites! The products are also ideal for the pre-fabricated building industry.

Manufacturing Advantages

Dig down deeper, and further very significant advantages can be discovered. As Climate Coating Ltd pre-finish the board materials in a purpose built factory, the efficiencies of having a precisely controlled process means that waste is virtually eliminated and a consistent level of quality control is achieved which far surpasses that which can be accomplished “on site”.

One of the vital elements of the production system is the use of Gas Catalytic IR ovens to efficiently cure the applied powder on the chosen substrate. The system, designed in conjunction with world leaders Heraeus (formerly Vulcan Catalytic Systems) has proven to be a wise choice. The systems produced by Heraeus have proven to be the most controllable, energy efficient powder coat curing solutions available today.

The powder curing system details are as follows:

  • Two coat system
  • 2 PLC controlled Gas Catalytic ovens (2 section preheat and 5 section main cure)
  • 300m2 per hour output
  • Space saving design has small footprint
  • Programmable to control the heat output horizontally and vertically through the oven
  • Perfect cure obtained by using only the exact amount of required Infra-Red.

What Climate Coating Ltd say about Heraeus:

“Having the world leading industrial IR process heating guys on board from the outset was an inspired choice on our part. Their in-depth knowledge and experience was key in enabling the Climate Coating Ltd concept to become a reality”

Kyle True (MD Climate Coating Ltd [climatesurfaces.com])

Key Product Points

  • Sustainable, no VOC’s produced in manufacture
  • Extremely high level of quality control that is unachievable “on site”
  • On site wet trades eliminated
  • Ideal for pre-fabricated buildings

Key Gas Catalytic IR powder curing points

  • Measurable and consistent process
  • Highly controllable (PLC) and adaptable
  • High quality finish
  • Energy efficient process
  • Small footprint

Heraeus Vulcan Attends FabTech 2014

Fabtech-logoHeraeus Vulcan will be attending Fabtech 2014 (November 11th – 13th) in Atlanta, Georgia

Booth B634

Visitors will be able be to talk to our Sales Engineers about the following aspects of Industrial Gas Catalytic IR heating systems, including:


Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Oven

Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Oven

So why not drop by booth B634 and found out how we can help you:


  • Create Powder Coating Capacity without increasing your shop floor footprint

  • Add the latest Powder Coating technology to your existing capability

  • Save up to 50% on your existing energy costs

  • Improve the quality of your finished product


Doughty Engineering Ltd. – Flexible Powder Coating System – Case Study

Doughty_Logo - cmyk

New Powder Coating System Improves Response Time

Doughty Engineering is the world leader in the design and manufacture of rigging, suspension and lifting equipment for the film, TV and theatre industry. Prior to installing a new powder coating system, the company outsourced all their powder coating to two subcontractors. Whilst they were generally happy with service that was offered; typical turnaround time was anything from 2 days to a week. However, it became  clear to Doughty Engineering that over the last 5 years,  customers were becoming more demanding. They were holding less stock and so expected suppliers to hold large stocks and offer short lead times. Maintaining large stocks was not the answer, especially when there are 100’s of products. However, the converse was not an option either. If a customer called for a part and it was not in stock, they would simply phone up another supplier. This created the risk of losing hard won business to competitors.


So the ability to become much more flexible and responsive became important. The answer was to bring 95% of their powder coating “in-house”. Working with systems house Junair (Spraybooths) Ltd,  Gema UK and Caldan conveyors, the optimum system was designed and implemented. For the oven, Heraeus Vulcan Gas Catalytic IR technology was chosen due to its superior energy efficiency, small footprint, and improved finish quality over conventional convection technology.

Powder Coating System

What Happened Next?

The system has now been running faultlessly since February 2014. Key improvements  are:

  • 10% operating cost saving
  • Increased throughput
  • Considerably reduced  lead times
  • Three hours not unusual
  • Rush jobs in custom colours carried out “While You Wait”
  • Improved quality
  • Increased capacity
  • Customer retention maintained
  • Production easier to manage

Stephen Wright a Director of Doughty Engineering Ltd. said:

“Apart from the reduction in operating costs and the improvement in quality; the intangible benefits such as improved customer service and the ability to be more responsive will help us maintain existing and gain new customers. The new powder coating system has surpassed our expectations and made an immediate difference to our business”

Energy Efficient Powder Coating System – Case Study

Working with our distributor in the Czech Republic, Surfin s.r.o, Heraeus Vulcan designed a new energy efficient powder coating system for Dikrt spol. s r.o. . The system is designed to cure powder on large agricultural parts, and the performance of the oven has exceeded expectation. Mr Weikert, the company’s owner stated:

“It used to take 70 minutes to cure our parts with the old convection oven. With the new Vulcan oven, it now takes only 12 minutes! We are very satisfied with its performance!”

energy efficient powder coating system

Large Parts Curing in Record Time in Energy Efficient Powder Coating System

Energy Efficient Powder Coating System

View of Energy Efficient Powder Coating System

How Did We Do It?

Working with our distributor in the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Blazek of Surfin s.r.o., the customer was able to see an existing Heraeus Vulcan system at another location and carry out part testing. Heraeus Vulcan then designed the powder coating oven to meet the customer’s requirements using SolidWorks. Heraeus Vulcan then provided Surfin s.r.o with a package that included the sheet metal design, the Heraeus Vulcan infrared heaters and the controls. To see a video on how Heraeus Vulcan designs and builds ovens, please follow the link.
The system was then easily constructed at the Surfin factory, with the sheet metal parts being produced locally from the SolidWorks files. The new energy efficient powder coating system was then installed and commissioned at the customer’s site within a few days.

Advantages of a Energy Efficient Powder Coating System from Heraeus Vulcan

All Heraeus Vulcan energy efficient powder coating systems operate using the principles of gas catalytic infrared heating. This type of system has an energy to effective heat conversion ratio of 85%, compared to traditional convection oven which is only 5% – 7% efficient. In practical operation this results in curing  taking a third less time in a gas catalytic infrared oven than a gas fired convection oven. This translates into significantly reduced energy bills.
The flameless nature of our systems means that there is no noxious emissions such as Nitric Oxide or Nitrogen Dioxide, so Heraeus Vulcan ovens are environmentally friendly.

If you would like more information on our energy efficient powder coating systems, then please contact John Martin (john.martin@heraeus.com) for USA enquiries or Ian Bartley (ian.bartley@heraeus.com) for UK and Europe.

Wheel Refurbishment Case Study

wheel refurbishing

Read the full article here

New Wheel Refurbishment Powder Coating Plant Delivers!

Snider Fleet Solutions in Greensboro, N.C. supplies tires, retreads and vehicle services to the transportation industry. The company operates a growing auto and truck wheel refurbishment service in Bluffton, Ind.

Until 3 years ago the company utilized a single convection oven that limited production to 3,000 wheels per month. They were also experiencing very high utility bills. Dave Double, Plant Manager at Snider Fleet Solutions needed a more flexible and cost effective solution. Dave carried out his research and concluded that Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan) was the best choice for revamping their systems.

So, the company installed a Vulcan (now Heraeus Vulcan) Gas Catalytic Infrared Powder Coating Oven to keep up with the growing demand for wheel refurbishment. They also adopted a new overhead track from Nikotrack, which incorporated staging areas to provide flexibility in the routeing of parts through the system. This layout adopts a Lean Manufacturing approach, which ensures flexibility in batch sizes, to ensure that product is completed according the “pull” of the customer.

Wheel Refurbishment

Wheel Refurbishment Powder Coating Oven

Overall, the new system has helped production to triple with the line currently running around the clock, powder coating 9,500 wheels per month, with the capacity to exceed 10,000 wheels per month.
The full Wheel Refurbishment Case Study , published in Powder Coating Magazine, can be read here.

If your company is involved in any form of powder coating, and needs to reduce its energy bills and increase production capacity and flexibility, then please contact Heraeus Vulcan to discuss your requirements.

Lean Powder Coating – Focus on Curing Technology

Lean powder coatingLean manufacturing is here to stay. It has been around for over 50 years and many companies have really started to implement Lean in a big way. Very often the results are  immediate and when implemented correctly, gains continue to be made. Long term commitment and  implementation delivers  far reaching changes that ensure future competitiveness in an ever changing, more competitive business landscape. This article focuses on how Lean Manufacturing philosophy applies when considering  powder curing technology. In particular gas catalytic infrared versus convection curing. It will be of interest to any company with powder coating ovens and is intending to or is already following the Lean path.  Other aspects such as powder application, quick color changes and powder reclamation are extremely important but  are already being addressed by the major providers in this field (Gema, Nordson, Wagner etc.).

Identifying the Lean Wastes – Continuous Flow and Batch Production

There are two main production systems for powder coating; continuous flow and batch production. The Lean wastes are generally common to both, except that there are other significant differences which require careful investigation and will be covered in a later article. This article focuses on the major differences between the leading technologies in curing, from a Lean Manufacturing perspective.

First let us consider what we are trying to achieve by reviewing the seven (eight including Energy) wastes identified by Lean.

The main aim is to reduce the following Lean Wastes within any manufacturing plant.

  • Transport (moving products unnecessarily)
  • Inventory (Work In Progress over and above what is actually needed to complete orders in hand)
  • Motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required)
  • Waiting (People or energy consuming processes waiting for parts or parts waiting for people or energy consuming processes)
  • Overproduction (production ahead of demand)
  • Over Processing (doing more to the product than is required)
  • Defects (the effort involved in inspecting and fixing defects or scrapping parts)
  • Energy (Unnecessary use of energy in the production process)

 Implications for Lean Powder Coating

When the 8 wastes identified above are applied to conventional gas fired convection curing ovens, the following issues become obvious:

Issue Lean Waste
  • Initial oven start up can take up to an hour
  • Waiting, Energy
  • Conventional ovens are not responsive to breaks in production and run at full load without any parts curing
  • Waiting, Energy
  • In order to reduce oven operating times, there is a tendency to produce ahead of demand
  • Over Production, Inventory
  • Conventional ovens have high airflow causing powder blow off and cross contamination
  • Defects
  • Convection ovens are inherently inefficient (5% – 7% of heat produced is used to cure powder)
  • Energy

So, it is clear that there are significant drawbacks to using conventional gas fired convection oven in a Lean Manufacturing environment. They are inefficient, unresponsive to changes in production load or requirements and tend to be either on and consuming energy or off with no intermediate control available.

The Lean Powder Coating Curing Oven Solution

Lean Powder Coating Oven

Lean Powder Coating Oven

If convection oven curing is not the correct technology for companies serious about Lean, then what is the correct technology? Infrared technology has been available for over 20 years and is available in two forms.

Electric Infrared

Electric Infrared ticks all the Lean boxes in terms of controlability, but has two major drawbacks. Firstly cost; electricity is around four times as expensive as gas and can generally be ruled out on this fact alone. Secondly, the infrared that is emitted is short wavelength, which is not as easily absorbed by organic materials such as powder.

Gas Catalytic Infrared

Gas catalytic infrared is truly the lean powder coating solution:

  • Catalytic infrared hits the “sweet spot” when it comes to absorption by organic materials
  • Catalytic infrared is controllable.
    • During production breaks the oven can be put into “Lo Fire” mode (20% of maximum output)
    • The oven can be split into individually controlled zones to suit parts
    • Each zone is infinitely variable between 20% – 100% output
  • Size. A gas catalytic infrared oven has a footprint around 50% that of a convection oven.
  • Efficiency. Gas Catalytic Infrared is around 85% efficient at converting energy into usable heat.
  • Cure time is generally one third that of a convection oven.
  • Less air movement within the oven means less powder blow off and improved finish quality

So in conclusion it is clear to see that gas catalytic infrared technology addresses all the Lean Waste issues that are raised by the use of a conventional convection oven, and why those companies involved in powder coating and wish to go Lean, should give serious consideration to a Gas Catalytic Infrared solution.

Batch Powder Coating Ovens – New Range Launched

Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan), have been designing and building powder coating ovens since 1990. We are now  pleased to be able to announce the launch its new range of Gas Catalytic Infrared Batch Ovens. The new “Batch-Cat” range are designed for the company with small to medium production requirements. The new ovens replace  traditional batch powder coating ovens, however, the main difference is the new PLC control system which allows for a carefully controlled temperature profile to be programmed to suit the part or parts being cured. This means larger and more complex parts can be cured in much less time than normal. Batch-Cat ovens with two or more sections have the choice of using just part of the oven for curing, thus allowing greater savings to be realized when small batches are being cured.

The Advantages of Gas Catalytic Infrared Powder Coating Ovens

  • Shorter cure times
  • Reduced changeover times
  • Less energy usage
  • Cheaper to operate

Powder Coating Ovens supplied by Heraeus Vulcan are used for curing powder on metal substrates, such as aluminum extrusions, sheet metal and various metal geometric shapes.
The ovens are often in the form of Full Cure Ovens, Infrared Booster Ovens or Pre-Gel Ovens. The latter ovens are designed to precede traditional convection ovens, rapidly raise the powder coating temperature to a point where the powder flows and gels delivering the parts to the convection oven close to cure temperature in a short amount of time. This means that overall cure times are shorter, less distance between parts during powder gun color changes, as powder blow off is eliminated.

Please contact one of our sales team for more information on 1 401 683 2070 or visit our website  powder coating ovens.

batch powder coating ovens

Exploded View of Batch Powder Coating Oven








Batch Powder Coating Oven

Cutaway View of Batch Powder Coating Oven


Powder Coating Ovens – How To Choose

powder coating oven

A Modern Efficient Gas Catalytic Infrared Powder Coating Oven

If your company is involved in powder coating products and parts, then you will either be subcontracting the work out, or will have your own in house powder coating oven. Alternatively, you may be thinking of moving from a liquid finish to a powder finish. Whatever your situation, the drive for cutting the cost of manufacturing is ever present, so this article will outline the various powder coating oven technologies available, to help you choose either a new system, or upgrade your existing facility.

Liquid or Powder Finish?

The move from liquid to powder is well established. The advantages of powder over liquid can be summarized as follows:

  • A powder coated finish is significantly tougher than a liquid finish.
  • Over spray losses for liquid finishes can be as much as 75%.
  • Around 80% of liquid finishes used in the USA are solvent based and present environmental issues.
  • Even aqueous based finishes still contain some solvents contained within the resin structure
  • The storage and transportation of liquid finishes requires the use of IBC’s (Intermediate Bulk Containers). These require special handling and storage techniques.
  • Overall, powder finishes represent a more cost effective way to getting a better finish.

Powder Coating Oven Choices

The current available technologies are:

  • Gas Fired Convection (batch or conveyor line)

    An Old Radiant Gas Oven

    An Old Radiant Gas Oven

    • Advantages
      • Least expensive capital cost
      • Suitable for complex geometry parts
    • Disadvantages
      • Inefficient
      • Expensive to run
      • Large floor space required
      • Due to long start up time, cannot be shut down during breaks in production
      • Produces noxious gases
      • High carbon footprint
      • Very large batch sizes required
      • Not particularly suited to heat sensitive substrates
  • Gas Radiant

    • Advantages
      • High heat intensity
    • Disadvantages
      • Expensive to run
      • Inefficient
      • Produces noxious gases
      • High carbon footprint
      • Not particularly suited to heat sensitive substrates
  • Gas Catalytic Infrared

    • Advantages
      • 50% less expensive to run
      • Short ROI (Return On Investment)
      • Improved quality and consistency of finish
      • No noxious gases produced
      • 50% smaller floor footprint
      • Highly controllable
      • Allows small batch sizes
      • Ideal for Lean Manufacturing
      • Proven on heat sensitive substrates
    • Disadvantages
      • Initial cost 50% higher than convection
  • Electric Infrared

    • Advantages
      • High heat intensity
      • Highly controllable
    • Disadvantages
      • Very high capital cost
      • Very high cost of running (4 x cost of gas per kW)

How to Choose

Perhaps the most important factor to consider when purchasing a new powder coating oven, is the initial Return On Investment (ROI). Then, the long term cost of operation. Do your calculations carefully, talk to as many different operators of the different technologies as you can. It is vitally important to run trials of your products. Do not forget to factor in the ongoing “Total Cost of Quality”. Lastly do not forget to consider the overall reduction in your Carbon Footprint.

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