Maintenance Tip: Lab Ovens
Although lab ovens can be extremely robust, working great for years, any device needs some maintenance. The general rule of thumb, if you use your oven regularly, is to calibrate it at least once a year. One sign that it may be time to replace your oven, however, is if the door seal is no longer flexible enough, because then the oven’s specification is no longer valid.
How does sample or material type influence the ideal type of lab oven?
Depending on the intended use, there are a variety of oven types to choose from. For general drying or baking purposes, a gravity convection oven can be used. These are typically cheaper and offer a degree of temperature uniformity, but can also develop cold or stagnant spots. Alternatively, a mechanical convection oven can be used which has a blower unit to allow for increased temperature uniformity, as well as fast recovery when the oven has been opened. If the requirements for the oven are drying, desiccating, moisture determination, and outgassing, then a vacuum oven may be best.
Will the size or volume of samples you need to heat affect which style of lab oven should be used?
Laboratory ovens come in a wide range of sizes—from very small personal use to large scale industrial units which have walk-in capabilities. For larger ovens, a separate power source may be required. These units can draw a lot of electricity and increase the overhead and maintenance requirements of the laboratory. Alternatively, if the sample volume is large, but the size of the samples is small, it may be wiser to invest in multiple smaller ovens as opposed to one large unit.
How will the type of analysis or laboratory affect the type of lab oven required?
For some laboratories which have stringent compliance guidelines on samples, such as work involving semiconductors and electronic applications, a specialized variety of oven known as a clean room oven may be needed. These ovens utilize a HEPA filter system along with very precise temperature control and uniform heating. For samples which are volatile or potentially explosive, the Class A division of ovens should be used, which include safeguards against explosive or volatile samples.
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