What Are Vacuum Ovens?

Vacuum ovens are quite versatile pieces of equipment; they are common to many different industries.  Three main applications for vacuum ovens include:

  • electronics
  • medical devices
  • aerospace

In all of these industries, Ledab vacuum ovens are relied upon in the process of removal substances from samples without the risk of overheating.  Indeed, in many manufacturing processes various substances can travel with the parts. These substances can include:

  • solvents
  • lubricants
  • epoxies

To remove substances like this, it is common to heat them to soften their composition, but this can be of great risk to the part as well. Thus, the part can be placed into a vacuum oven as an alternative to extensive heat.  

Vacuum Ovens in Electronics Applications

Vacuum ovens are widely involved in the process of printing circuit boards, mostly at the coating cure and drying stages.  Circuit boards, of course, are made of heat-sensitive plastics that will certainly shrink under the conditions of a standard convection oven.  In a vacuum oven, though, the reduction of pressure helps to clean and dry the boards so they can move onto the next stage.

In addition to this, vacuum ovens can be used to dry wet electronics!  Just about any type of electronic that might be damaged by moisture or liquid can be dried (and saved from damage, actually) by placing it into a vacuum oven at a low temperature.

Vacuum Ovens in Medical Devices

Even the most pristine manufacturing environments contain product components with chemicals trapped in tiny crevices and pockets.  Some of these chemical may be harmful to humans if/when introduced to the body. Thus, vacuum ovens are used to help clean medical devices like heart valves and artificial joints and catheters; all of which can have heat-sensitive resins that would be otherwise damaged if you attempted to clean the equipment using heat from a convection oven. Instead, a vacuum oven can leach out these contaminants, rendering the equipment safe to use.

Vacuum Ovens in the Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry actually relies quite heavily on vacuum technology.  In research and manufacturing applications, vacuum ovens help scientists test equipment that is designed for space flight.  They need to be sure, for example, that different pieces of equipment will behave as expected in the vacuum of space: from self-assembling satellites to tiny widgets on a terrestrial rover.  Also, the aerospace industry tests how chemical substances used in the construction of space equipment will behave under atmospheric conditions (not just atmospheric pressure changes but also the introduction of condensation, heat, fire, corrosion, etc).