Is it time for UK companies to re-evaluate their heat technology?

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Cathal Wilson, Ceramicx Projects Manager and Assistant Professor Dr Anthony Robinson from Trinity College Dublin presented their groundbreaking work on Infrared-based Heat Work Technology for the processing & packaging industries

Our first report from the seminars at the Total Processing & Packaging Exhibition


Established in 1992, Ceramicx is located in a rural Irish community, but at the very top of its game providing small, medium and long wave infrared (IR) technology, including components, controls, systems and specialist finishing equipment, to a wide range of industries with an increasing focus on the UK processing and packaging markets.

The focus of the presentation was sustainable manufacturing and how major cost-savings together with increased production control and accuracy benefits can be derived from effective heat work.

Delegates were given a brief overview on the fundamental principles of Absorbtion, Transmission and Reflection involved in infrared heating technology including the meaning of energy content per part, and the session also included findings from international case studies on fast cycling thermoforming operations and the production of cut plastics sheet.

In conjunction with a team of post doctorate researchers at Trinity College Dublin as part of co-funded industry and government Innovation Partnership, Ceramicx has created a ‘world first’ programmable and automated system of mapping the actual radiant heat flux performance for all kinds of IR heating elements – using energy or watts rather than temperature as the primary unit of measurement.

It means that not only are Ceramicx able to map out and measure – in 3D space – the actual performance of all its IR heaters; it can also do the same with regards to the actual IR heat performance and energy consumption of any competitor.

The team has developed an optimal system of robotic movement in order to best test the effects of IR heat in 3D space. The end-of-arm tooling and heat sensors have undergone considerable development work in the course of the project.

The automated system has been designed whereby a six-axis robot moves the sensor in a predetermined 3D grid in front of the heater. The heater is mounted on a linear stage in order to expand the space over which measurements can be taken. The motion of the robot and heater, as well as the data acquisition, is facilitated using LabView. Preliminary results are presented which show the viability of this technique for recreating the 3D heat flux distribution around infrared heaters.

The measurement system requires that the robot and linear stage be controlled so as to position the sensor in a specified location in front of the heater after which one or more IR heat flux measurement is acquired. The relative position and the magnitude of the sensor output voltage must then be stored for future post processing.

There is still some work to do on sensor calibration to improve accuracy and heater arrays, but once finished, this innovative development will enable Ceramicx to form a predictive science and method for IR heat measurement and application. These new techniques will be applied by the company in the further design of its products, components and IR systems engineering as supplied to processing and packaging companies worldwide.


As a leading heat sealing specialist supplying a wide range of high performance components specially designed to increase production efficiencies and reduce costs, Omron also believes in the powerful combination of industry working with educational establishments. The company’s product experts regularly participate in events, lectures and research at the Institute for Manufacturing at The University of Cambridge to help empower the next generation, as well as develop the technologies of the future.

Written by
Pim van Wetten

Curious B2B integrated marketing and social media specialist