2011 Lab Oven Product Survey

Nobody gets excited about lab ovens, but they are definitely essential lab components. Ovens are found in almost every industrial, research and development laboratory. Keep reading to get the exciting results of our lab ovens survey.

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Nobody gets excited about lab ovens, but they are definitely essential lab components. Ovens are found in almost every industrial, research and development laboratory. Applications include drying lab ware and keeping it ready for use; sterilization; conducting above-ambient, constant-temperature experiments; drying reagents and desiccants; annealing and curing materials; component and materials testing, and many others.

Basic components common to all general-purpose lab ovens are an electric heating coil, insulation, temperature measurement and/or recording, and a circulation mechanism that provides even temperature distribution. Advanced features include double doors, digital control and temperature recording (useful for regulated industries requiring documentation).

Oven configurations include bench or cabinet styles, conveyor, and vertical. Cabinet ovens are used for batch processing, while conveyor designs—common with medium- to industrial-sized process applications— provide continuous heating of many samples.

Despite the simplicity of lab ovens, manufacturers compete on numerous second-tier features, from temperature programmability, cooling-down capability, alarms, shelving options, monitoring and data logging.

Eighty-five percent of respondents have at least one oven in their lab.
1 20%
2 20%
3 17%
4 10%
5 or more 19%
None 15%

 

Ovens are found in almost every industrial, research and development laboratory. Applications include drying lab ware and keeping it ready for use; sterilization; conducting above-ambient, constant-temperature experiments; drying reagents and desiccants; annealing and curing materials; component and materials testing, and many others.
Biochemistry and biology 16%
Environmnent 13%
Chemical 15%
Quality control 9%
Pharmaceutical industry 5%
Hospital/medical center 8%
Microbiology 9%
Food and beverage 7%
Metal industry 3%
Other 18%

 

Applications range from low-tech glassware drying to sample drying and incubation, equipment sterilization, evaporation, hardening/ curing, tempering, stability testing, aging, baking, annealing, brazing, sintering, burn-off of organics, melting, heat-treating and hot-pressing. Most basic lab uses employ oven temperatures from just above ambient to several hundred degrees Fahrenheit, although ovens used for materials processing reach temperatures in excess of 1000°F. Kilns, speciality ovens used to process ceramics, may reach 2400°F.
Heating and drying 50%
Temperature-linked experiments 19%
Evaporating 9%
Sterilization 7%
Baking 5%
Annealing 2%
Other 8%

 

In recent years, users’ preferences have shifted from gravity ovens without fans to fan-based, forced-air units. Fans distribute heat more rapidly on startup and users are becoming less willing to wait for units to heat up. Oven configurations include bench- or cabinet-style, conveyor and vertical. Cabinet ovens are used for batch processing, while conveyor designs— common with medium- to industirlal-sized process applications—provide continuous heating of many samples. Circulation ovens (the most common in labs) come in two types: gravity convection or mechanical (forced) draft.

Most common types of ovens found in a lab:


Natural convection
Fanned convection
High-temperature
Clean room oven
Chamber furnace
Tube furnace
Vacuum furnace
Nitrogen purge oven

 

Uneven temperature distribution often arises in some ovens, which may not be an issue for glassware drying ovens, but many introduce variability for materials curing or biological cell culture. As a result, temperature monitors are the number one component used with lab ovens.
Controllers/programmers 23%
Over-temperature protection 22%
Temperature monitoring 34%
Data logger 10%
Chart recorders/DAQ 7%
Other 4%

 

Forty-five percent of respondents’ annual lab oven budget for parts, service and repairs is less than $1,000.
$0 - $1,000 45%
$1,000 - $2,500 16%
$2,500 - $5,000 12%
$5,000+ 10%
Don’t know 17%

 

Forty percent of respondents expect to purchase a lab oven within the next year and have a budget of $5,000. The main reason for this purchase is to replace an aging oven.
Replacement of aging oven 40%
Addition to existing systems; increase capacity 28%
Setting up a new lab 22%
First-time purchase of a lab oven 5%
Other 5%

Over 90% of the respondents are satisfied with the performance of their lab oven in getting the job done for the intended purpose with very little maintenance. The respondents whose lab ovens were old and lack all the features of a newer oven expressed dissatisfaction. On average, most respondents have their lab oven for 7 years.

Despite the simplicity of lab ovens, in addition to price, manufacturers compete on numerous features from accurate temperature without overshoot, time to heat up, reliability, independent temperature safety or shutoff, temperature programmability, cooling-down capability, alarms, shelving options, monitoring, and data logging.

Labs concerned about operating costs can now select ovens that minimize electricity consumption. A highly efficient oven in constant use can save thousands of dollars over the life of the appliance. Energy efficiency is a complex characteristic based on type of heating and circulation, anticipated usage, temperature range, insulation, door closing, gasket options and other factors. Insulation also provides a measure of safety for operators.

Larger labs primarily interested in glassware drying are better served by large ovens with customizable configurations than by high-tech units with advanced controls. Materials testing or pharmaceutical development groups involved in drying or curing should focus on temperature stability/ uniformity and perhaps automated recording and diagnostics. Vendors recommend that users should modestly overbuy on temperature range to ensure that their applications will easily be covered.

Price 73%
Low maintenance/operating costs 70%
Ease of use 62%
Safety 50%
Temperature ranges ambient +40°C to 200°C/250°C 38%
Service and support 36%
Warranty 35%
Energy efficient 31%
Smallest footprint possible with a large interior 26%
Controlled airflow to provide uniform temperature heat distribution 26%

To see the complete survey results and a list of vendors, please visit www.labmanager.com/ovens

See the most recent survey results here

Categories: Surveys

Published In

Confident? Magazine Issue Cover
Confident?

Published: February 1, 2011

Cover Story

Confident?

Our third annual confidence survey reveals that survey participants—ranging from technicians to corporate management—believe their research organizations will be just slightly better off financially than they were a year ago and that business conditions in their market sectors will somewhat improve to support or attract significant research investments.