Infra-Red Curing Setups

Basic advice on setting up infra-red heat lamps to speed finish curing in a small shop. April 9, 2007

Target Coatings recently told me that I may use infrared curing lamps to cut my dry time significantly. I have been looking at different portable automotive units but wanted some advice on different setups and options that I may have. My space is limited (about 400 square feet total).

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Considering your lack of space, I wouldn't buy the largest unit available.

From the original questioner:
I have been looking at small ones that will work as far as space, but I know nothing of how to place them or use them properly with my water based coatings, or any coatings for that matter. I want to know about setups and processing.

From contributor C:
Get a remote sensing thermometer (Harbor Freight has them cheap; Radio shack has them dear). Work out your distances to keep the ultimate temp at just about 100 degrees Fahrenheit maximum. If you get hotter than that, you'll start to get sticking on the back side as your finish melts onto your support surface. Let your surfaces cool before sanding or recoating. I leave oil stained pieces under my light overnight. Water based coats take only fifteen to sixty minutes to cure. Thicker coats need to be dried slower. The whole process works better if you don't push the envelope too much. I like my setup. It is particularly helpful when working up samples and doing small projects or matching existing finishes.

From contributor W:
Look for a lamp that ranges from 150-300 watts in power. Establish a distance between the lamp(s) and the finished part that allows for a constant temperature range between 100-120 degrees F for a period of 20-25 minutes after the finish has dried and leveled to a tack-free surface before exposing to the IR energy. Waterbornes love a nice, penetrative heat source to speed up the cure cycle. Make lots of test panels and vary your heat time/range before settling in on a basic process. (The same advice applied to halogen energy as well.)

From contributor J:
We use Prime Heat. It has a heat sensor and that regulates how often the lights come on. Good setup.

From contributor T:
CCI Thermal Technologies is the best IR curing company I know of. The controls on their ovens prevent power spikes and allow for soft starts. I would check them out first.