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

Powder Coating Oven Makes Light Work

Gas Catalytic IR Powder Coating Oven

Custom Light Fixture Manufacturer Chooses Gas Catalytic IR

Lumetta, based in Warwick RI, manufactures custom designed light fittings for the hotel and restaurant industry. Previously, the powder coating of the steel and aluminum products was out-sourced. Although quality was good, damage in transportation and a weeks processing time meant that a different approach would be required if end user lead time was to be reduced. Lumetta decided it was time to get their own Powder Coating Oven. The two oven solution suggested by Heraeus required a Gas Catalytic IR dry off (after washing) and a Gas Catalytic IR final cure
oven (after powder application) together with an overhead conveyor to allow continuous flow. The complete system takes up less than 3,000 sq ft and requires only two operators. Lumetta can now fabricate, powder coat and ship on the same day, if required. Faster inventory turns, lower costs and very happy customers are just a few of the advantages of adopting Gas Catalytic IR technology from Heraeus.

“The flexibility that the new Gas Catalytic Ovens has provided us with means that we can now de-gas our die castings as well as powder coat our main volume product. The move to continuous flow from batch
production has resulted in shorter lead times and reduced operating costs. The ability to react quickly to customer’s needs is transforming our business. Our costs have been significantly reduced whilst producing a high quality product. Everybody is a winner including the most important person, the customer!”

Bill Pritchett (Owner of Lumetta)

Gas Catalytic IR Powder Coating Oven Reduces Costs

Powder Coating Oven For Saw Blades

Cutting Edge Company Doubles Business

Die Cast Connections of Chicopee MA, custom coats hundreds of thousands of hacksaw and reciprocating saw blades every week by using a powder coating oven. With business forecast to double, a move from a hand spray, batch oven type of production to a continuous, conveyor layout was required. Even though the coating on a cutting blade will wear off with use, the need for a good quality powder coated finish is essential to enable:

  • Screen printing of brand logo
  • Product presentation within retail packaging
  • Damage free transportation

“A 30 ft Gas Catalytic IR Oven from Heraeus proved to be the answer. The system is capable of curing yellow, black, green, white and silver powders within a 4 minute cure cycle. An added requirement is the need to pass die cast products through the same oven to eliminate out gassing. A task which the new Gas Catalytic IR oven handles with ease.”

Beth Zastawny (Owner of Die Cast Connections)

Gas Catalytic IR Oven Double Capacity

Rim refurbishment using gas catalytic IR oven

Rim Refurbishment Company Reduces Lead Time With Gas Catalytic IR Oven

When Elite Rim Repair, of Plainview NY, a leading company in the rim refurbishment industry, approached Heraeus for advice on how to increase production capacity and quality, we suggested two new Gas Catalytic IR ovens which would dovetail into existing procedures:

  • Preparation – Rims are stripped of tires and existing finish followed by straightening if required.
  • Pre Gel Gas Catalytic Oven – Base color powder applied before entering the Pre Gel Gas Catalytic IR Oven. This gels the powder and adds heat to the rims.
  • Final Cure Gas Catalytic IR Oven – Clear coat powder then applied to hot rim before entering final cure Gas Catalytic IR Oven to co-cure the base and clear coat together to provide a flawless finish.
  • Fit Tires & Ship – Tires are then refitted and rims are ready to ship. All possible within 24 – 48 hours.

Customer Reports Impressive Results

“I have been extremely impressed with the performance of our new Heraeus Gas Catalytic IR Ovens. Process time has been reduced by 50% and the resultant increase in productivity and quality has been impressive. Repeatability of our high standard of quality has improved significantly and the overall impact on our energy bills has been remarkable.”
Herman Mansbart (Owner of Elite Rim Repair)

Gas Catalytic Heaters Provide Quicker and Better Finish on Boats

catalytic heatersKey improvements by switching to Catalytic Heaters

  •   Quicker job completion
  •   Improved gloss finish
  •   Flexible system
  •   Safe to use in hazardous environment
  •   30 % operating cost saving


The International Marine Composites company in Bristol, Rhode Island, USA is at the centre of the vibrant East Coast yachting industry. The ability to complete a wide range of boat repairs, and paint refinishing is key to the company’s success. Generally, the marine industry relies upon wet finishing systems which usually comprise a wet epoxy primer underneath a two part polyurethane finish which gives the desired hull colour. Further protection to the high gloss finish can be provided by an extra two part polyurethane clear coat.

Multipurpose boat sheds tend to be big, cold and dusty which makes high gloss finishing difficult to achieve. The cold atmosphere can cause an “orange peel” effect on the finished paint, so the generally accepted method of heating the shed is to use a hot air circulation system, prior to wet spraying. Unfortunately the air movement causes dust to become airborne which can then land on the newly painted surface. Curing of each coat can take up to 24 hours, which means that a simple paint job can take 3 – 4 days.
Jorge Borges, owner of International Marine Composites approached Heraeus Vulcan (formerly Vulcan Catalytic Systems) for help in speeding up the complete process, and improving the finish on completed boats. Our engineers quickly determined that 30 minutes of Gas Catalytic IR Heat could be used to pre heat the boat hull prior to the wet spraying of the epoxy primer. This was then followed by a further 20 minutes of IR heat. Heaters were arranged on a movable and easily adjustable framework, which can be positioned up to 2.5m away from the boat hull. By using this method there was no unnecessary air movement and a tack free and dust free primer could be achieved and cured very quickly. Previously, the epoxy primer coat required 24 hours of cure time before it could be rubbed down. With Gas Catalytic heaters, this can take place after just 6 hours. The same process can be repeated when applying the polyurethane paint and clear coat.
The end result is a boat hull which finish which meets proud owners expectations of a high gloss finish with no imperfections. The added advantage is that Jorge can complete a simple paint job in a day.

Gas Catalytic IR – The 3:1 Rule

This article was first published in Powder Coating magazine, November 2014

Gas Catalytic IR – 3:1 Rule Provides Key to Success

Gas Catalytic IRThe use of Gas Catalytic IR technology in the finishing, curing and drying industries has now become so well accepted that more and more companies are not asking:  “Will it work for me?”, but “How soon do we make the change?”. The understanding of the advantages of the technology has improved dramatically over recent years, but it is worth reviewing  the most quoted rule of thumb, relating to Gas Catalytic IR, the 3:1 rule, and looking at a couple of examples that demonstrate why it is often quoted.

What is the 3:1 Rule?

Stated simply, the 3:1 rule says that for every three minutes it takes to cure a part in a conventional convection oven, it will require only one minute in a Gas Catalytic IR oven. So, for example, parts that normally take 30 minutes to cure conventionally, only take 10 minutes in a Gas Catalytic IR oven.  Obviously, it is not exact across a wide range of parts; some take less time (thin sheet metal parts for example) and some take slightly longer (heavy, geometrically complex parts). But the 3:1 rule is a good place to start when considering the most appropriate curing technology to use. Why is the 3:1 Rule so Important? The most obvious answer has to be the fundamental fact that it demonstrates that less energy is required. But sometimes overlooked is the additional fact that the reduced gas consumption has a further level of control which is achieved by the use of zones and PLC controls. But, it does not stop there. A further look into the “knock on” effects, show that for a given track speed, less time in the oven, means a shorter oven is required; smaller form factor means more efficient use of manufacturing space. So the opportunity for overall manufacturing cost reduction becomes a reality.

Read the rest of the article here


IR Pre Gel Oven Case Study

Pre Gel Oven Case Study


GEA Searle Pre Gel Oven

The Going Gets Tough……

When Ryan Davis (Production Manager at GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems) went home one evening a couple of years ago, after a normal busy day, he was pleased to put his feet up. Little did he know that, overnight, an unforeseen event would occur that would ultimately lead to the installation of a brand new powder coating system that he didn’t know he needed.

Ryan works for GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems, a global company that manufactures heat exchangers. The Fareham facility produces air conditioning and refrigeration units for industrial and commercial customers worldwide. The company has a well earned reputation for quality products, delivered on time, in a very competitive market. The company is a World Class manufacturer, which is undoubtedly due in part to the adoption of Lean Manufacturing techniques in 2010.

The unforeseen event?

The manufacturing plant in Fareham, Hampshire suffered a fire that destroyed 40% of the site. The sudden complete loss of their painting and powder coating plant was potentially catastrophic, but in true British Bulldog spirit, the whole team rallied together and put together a plan to ensure that the inevitable disruption was kept to a minimum. Local sub contract powder coaters stepped up to the plate and helped to keep production flowing until GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems could restore the manufacturing capability at the plant.

One of the first things that Ryan did was to call Angus Trenholme of Junair Spraybooths Ltd., GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems had successfully worked with Angus on many previous painting and powder coating projects, so it did not take long for a specification to be put together, quoted and ordered.

Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Oven – Part Of The Solution

Being a Lean Manufacturing company, GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems took this opportunity to update their powder coating capability; the shortlist of requirements was straight forward:

  • Minimum 6,000 parts  per week (mainly galvanized panels, 200⁰C cure polyester powder)
  • Improved quality
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Smaller footprint
  • 1.6 m/min track speed with potential to increase to 2 m/min and eventually 3 m/min
  • Reduced maintenance

A tall order!  Angus, contacted Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan), and asked us to design a suitable Pre Gel oven for the new powder coating system. The main purpose of the Pre Gel oven is to reduce the overall cure time by raising the powder temperature up to 200⁰C very quickly, so the powder flows and starts the curing process. Whilst we designed the oven and supplied the IR technology, Junair pulled together the rest of the project which involved new Pre Treatment plant, drying oven and powder application equipment. Junair Spraybooths Ltd. – GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems – Case  Study.


The Gas Catalytic Pre Gel oven that we designed consists of two sections, with 10 individual heaters and three separately controllable zones in each section. The fully reflected design ensures maximum efficiency and the PLC controls are configured to optimize energy savings by automatically dropping into the energy saving  “Low Fire” mode when there are breaks in production.

Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel ovens from Heraeus Vulcan offer a proven, flexible solution that can enhance any conventional convection oven (advantages of Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Ovens – Read more…). The main advantages are:

  • Increased line speed
  • Increased capacity and productivity
  • Reduced footprint
  • Reduced cross contamination of powder

The final system has now been up and running since December 2014. Ryan reports that he is very pleased with how it is working. Already significant improvements are being recorded, especially in energy consumption. The improvement in quality has been proven by the results of controlled Salt Spray tests, which will mean fewer warranty claims and a reduction in the Total Cost of Quality.

“We now have a highly efficient, high quality paint finishing process. From the start to finish of the project Junair Spraybooths Ltd. did a great job. In particular, using Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan), for the design and supply of the Gas Catalytic IR oven components has proven to be a great decision. The improvement in finished product quality and reduced operating costs has exceeded our expectations.”

Ryan Davis (Production Manager, GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems)

Ryan has a new problem to deal with now! The increased capacity now means that he has to look at ways of improving the loading and unloading parts onto and off the track. Ah, the joys of Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement. Good luck Ryan!

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


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