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Increasing Line Speed with Infrared Heaters

There are many common reasons a business may need to increase line speed:

  • Your product line has changed and the new products require more drying.

  • A solvent-based coating is being replaced with a water-based coating, which requires more drying. 

  • New coatings may require faster speeds, or may be heavier and require more drying.

  • Or, quite simply: You want the most bang for your buck from your expensive capital machinery!


In any case, you have two options:

  • Extend your existing hot air dryer by adding an additional zone, or:

  • Consider adding an IR pre-dryer.

MiniPanel arrays can be used to experiment with different heat profiles.

The MiniPanels utilize 

rugged construction and high watt density to provide a reliable, efficient source of medium wave energy.

Benefits of an IR Pre-Dryer

  • Low Cost

    • The cost of adding an IR pre-dryer is much less than adding a zone of hot air​.  If you're not ready to many any capital commitment to your line, contact us about our rental heater program.  It's the perfect way to test the effects of a pre-dryer without any long term commitment.

  • Space Saving

    • Existing production lines usually do not have a lot of space between the coater and the dryer, so adding another large hot air zone may be impossible.  Typical pre-dryers range from three to five feet long (covering the width of the web), though ATD offers a range of IR heaters, including our very versatile and compact MiniPanels (pictured below).  Due to IR’s significantly higher rate of energy transfer, you can achieve your target line speed increase with an IR pre-dryer that’s about ¼ the size of a hot air oven extension.

  • Fast ROI​​​

    • Because of the low cost, zero shutdown time, and boost in productivity, the payback period for an IR pre-dryer is typically a few months, sometimes even weeks!  

Of course, you aren’t limited to using pre dryers for boosting the efficiency of existing equipment...

Adding an IR pre dryer to a new system can increase the line speed and efficiency of a new convection oven, while increasing energy efficiency and minimizing space.

Additional Considerations

Combining IR and Air for Pre-Drying Coatings:

For most applications where pre drying a coating is needed, we use a combination of infrared and air to prevent skinning the coating with IR’s intense heat. Adding air to the process makes it gentler on the coating.  Air also helps in breaking the coating’s boundary layer, which increases drying efficiency. In addition, the air helps to prevent damage to the web every time your line stops.


Our smart controls turn the IR heaters off upon line stop and increase the air volume to a cooling level.  The combination infrared and air pre dryer can provide a line speed increase of 30-50% for many applications. 

Choosing the Right IR Wavelength:

For most applications, ATD uses medium wavelength IR heaters which generate most of the energy in the wavelength range of 2.5 to 3 microns. At these wavelengths, water has an excellent absorption peak making the energy transfer very efficient.

If space is very tight, we sometimes consider Shortwave IR heaters (such as T3 lamps) as pre-dryers. These heaters provide a higher energy density and are therefore well suited when space is an issue.

Common Pre-Dryer Applications:

  • Adhesives

  • Films

  • Non-wovens

  • Paper

  • Plastics

  • Textiles

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