Facilities & Equipment
Located at Northampton Community College's Fowler Southside Center, ETAC's labs can be used to apply and test various technologies for industry in the lab environment. Technologies include (click for more information):
Infrared has unique characteristics in its ability to transfer energy directly to a product, without heating air. By selecting the proper wavelength, you can control the amount of heat the product absorbs, giving you precise control over heating, drying and curing processes. Infrared energy can be focused, directed and reflected the same as light, without introducing more heat into the workplace. Infrared ovens have a modular design that can fit easily into most production lines, take up less floor space than convection ovens and need minimal maintenance.
Industrial Uses of Infrared
Infrared technology is best used in processes that require selective, intensive heating. Industrial uses include:
- Drying and curing of coatings, paints, inks and adhesives (including new water-based and powder coatings)
- Preheating of metal components before painting, welding or stamping
How Infrared Technology Can Benefit Your Business
There are several ways that infrared technology can benefit your manufacturing processes including:
- Direct heat transfer cuts processing time.
- Increased energy-efficiency because IR energy heats the product, not the air around it.
- Precise control over the drying and curing process.
- Potential elimination of hydrocarbon emissions from fuel combustion.
- Use of less space than with conventional drying equipment.
- Improved working environment for your employees due to less heat and noise.
Industrial Uses of Microwave
Microwave technology is an energy-efficient method of heating those materials that are difficult to heat using convection ovens or infrared technology. Industrial uses include:
- Thawing and tempering of meat, fish and poultry prior to processing.
- Curing of seamless rubber gaskets, moldings and strips.
- Curing of adhesives for plywood and construction lumber.
- Bonding composite sheets for the automotive and aerospace industries.
- Cooking of food products.
How Microwave Technology Can Benefit Your Business
There are several ways that microwave technology may benefit your process or product including:
- Achieve faster and more uniform heat penetration than typical conductive methods.
- Avoid product degradation that may result from conventional heating methods.
- Selectively heat products with varying rates of heat absorption.
- Do away with warm up or cool down, as microwave heating units have instant on/off.
- Achieve greater energy efficiency compared to conventional heating methods.
- Combine microwave with conventional heating or drying to decrease processing time.
- Use less floor space due to the compact size of the equipment.
Radio Frequency (RF)
About Radio Frequency
Radio frequency uses electromagnetic waves in the radio frequency spectrum to dry nonmetallic materials. Energy is transferred directly into an object, which results in uniform heating throughout the entire object. Convection ovens heat material from the surface inward, so heating and drying does not occur at a uniform rate. Radio frequency drying is gaining favor in the textiles, food, wood products, and plastics/composites industries.
Industrial Uses of Radio Frequency
Radio frequency technology improves product quality because heat-sensitive materials are not exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. Industrial uses include:
- Drying of yarn, dyed garments and food.
- Post-baking of crackers and cookies.
- Drying of plastic resins prior to injection molding.
- Preheating of plastics prior to curing.
- Controlling moisture content of wood.
- Joining of composites and advanced materials.
How Radio Frequency Technology Can Benefit Your Business
- Significantly reduces drying time, from days to minutes in some cases.
- Avoids uneven shrinkage or over-drying because radio waves concentrate in the wettest, densest areas of material.
- Allows precise and rapid temperature changes using electronic controls.
- Uses less energy and results in less waste than a convection oven.
- Saves up to 30% more floor space compared with hot houses and other conventional dryers.
- Reduces maintenance and downtime, because RF equipment has few components.
Ultraviolet radiant energy is applied to decorative and protective coatings to initiate a photochemical process that cures them into a hard, solid film. Ultraviolet curing technologies are more environmentally friendly than their conventional solvent-based counterparts and have gained widespread use across many industries including wood and metal products, plastics, electronics and printing.
Industrial Uses of Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet energy is part of the electromagnetic spectrum between visible light and x-rays. Curing materials using UV improves wear, increases scratch resistance and improves the overall appearance of coated, printed or bonded products. Industrial uses include:
- Curing of inks and high-gloss varnishes.
- Curing of industrial coatings and finishes on wood, metal and plastic products.
- Curing of adhesives for bonding electronic components and splicing optical fibers.
How Ultraviolet Technology Can Benefit Your Business
- Increase throughput because of the nearly instantaneous curing time.
- Obtain greater energy efficiency because most of the energy is used for curing.
- Achieve and maintain compliance with environmental regulations by reducing your volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, because UV-curable materials contain little or no solvents.
Electron Beam (e-beam)
About Electron Beam Technology
New electron beam (e-beam) technology is compact, efficient, reliable and easy to operate and maintain. It can fit into many new applications, such as post-curing of inks and varnishes on flexographic printing presses. The e-beam systems are designed so that all the accelerator components are in one unit. The emitter is in a compact and hermetically-sealed enclosure without active vacuum pumps. This enables easy installation and provides the easy maintenance that industry requires today.
Industrial Uses of Electron Beam
Conventional e-beam technology is used for welding, melting, vaporizing and heat treating metals. New low voltage e-beam technology, available at ETAC, finds common application in polymerization and cross-linking of organic materials and coatings and sterilization. Industrial product applications include:
- Curing films or deposits, such as coatings, inks, and adhesives
- Wood moldings, sidings, board stock and frames
- Metal tubing, wire extrusions and containers
- Plastic tubing, PVC extrusions and sheet goods
- Fiber optics
- Paper and fabrics
- Food and medical sterilization and packaging, as well as shelf-life extension
How Electron Beam Technology Can Benefit Your Business
Some of the many advantages that electron beam technology can offer your manufacturing products or processes include:
- Improved physical properties, such as increased exterior durability and high rub-resistance, due to the depth of cure and improved ultraviolet light stability.
- Improved adhesion on a variety of substrates.
- Ability to cure higher thickness coatings or inks with high pigment content.
- Ability to cure inks, coatings and adhesives sandwiched between several layers of opaque materials, which often occurs in the food packaging industry.
- Elimination of heat damage to printing substrates, since electron beam curing is a "cold-curing" process.
- Higher press speeds due to faster curing of thicker or more opaque inks or coatings.
- Low training and labor costs, and reduced ink and coating costs are a possibility, since the use of a photo-initiator is not required for most curing scenarios.
- Decreased number of toxic byproducts, such as volatile organic compounds and photo-initiators.
- Higher energy efficiency when compared to other curing technologies.