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Flexible Heaters

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A flexible heater is a wire wound, chemically etched, or screen-printed heater that can be bent or flexed to fit the curves of the surface that has to be heated. Many flexible heaters include transparent heaters, polyimide/Kapton® film heaters, carbon-printed heaters, and silicone rubber heaters (etched and wire wound). These heaters are available in a wide range of configurations, as they can alter the size, shape, and thickness, as well as additional components that can enhance the functionality of any application. Read More…

Flexible Heaters Flexible heaters are great for a wide range of applications as they are able to fit into tight spaces and provide heat to areas or products that other traditional methods may not be able to reach. Flexible heaters are commonly found in applications such as air heating in baking ovens, surface heating, cabinet warming and a number of different other industrial applications.
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Leading Manufacturers

Danvers, MA  |  978-777-0070

Backer Hotwatt is a superior designer & manufacturer of electric heaters and related heater accessories for various OEM & industrial applications.

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Backer Hotwatt, Inc. $$$

Columbus, IN  |  812-372-0281

For more than 70 years, Ulanet™ has been engineering and manufacturing electric heaters, cartridge heaters, immersion heaters, tubular heaters, miniature strip heaters and bolt hole heaters, as well as industrial heaters and appliance thermostats.

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Ulanet™ $$$

Rochester Hills, MI  |  888-852-3611

Working in the production of infrared heating products since 1965, Combustion Research is sure to be able to meet the infrared heater needs for your application. Our products (Reflect-O-Ray®, Omega II® and Synergy® brands) are known for their "big three" — comfort, efficiency and economic operation.

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Combustion Research Corporation $$$

Houston, TX  |  800-460-5200

Process industries have relied on Gaumer since 1962 for the design and manufacture of industrial heaters, electric heaters, heating systems plus controls. Circulation heaters, component heaters (radiant heaters, strip heaters, cartridge heaters), comfort heaters and immersion heaters are the offerings.

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Gaumer Process Heaters, Systems & Controls $$$

Charlotte, NC  |  800-438-4936

Space-Ray is an international manufacturer of infrared radiant gas heating products. We are a division of the Gas Fired Products Group of companies which manufactures energy efficient overhead radiant heating, space heating, infrared heaters and process heating systems in the UK and USA. We design and manufacture energy efficient gas heating products that will stand the test of time.

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Space-Ray, Inc. $$$
placeholder image Backer Hotwatt, Inc. Ulanet™ Combustion Research Corporation Gaumer Process Heaters, Systems & Controls Space-Ray, Inc.

Flexible heaters offer characteristics that make them resistant to chemicals and moisture and are durable, dependable, accurate, and efficient. Flexible heating elements are used in industrial, military, and commercial applications because they may be easily bonded or attached to any kind and size of the substrate, including being actively flexed in an application. The most effective way to ensure thermal energy leaves the heating element is to directly adhere flexible heaters to the surface that needs to be heated. Heating with flexible heaters is the best method if the heater is correctly installed and built such that there is a uniform interface between the heater and the substrate to be heated.

Various sensors and controls can frequently be integrated directly into the flexible heater. Flexible heater designs frequently use pre-set or programmable thermostats, thermocouples, thermistors, RTDs, thermal fuses, and other electronic components.

Types of Flexible Heaters

Polyimide Heaters

Polyimide is a thin, light polymer film with exceptional tensile strength, tear resistance, and dimensional stability. Since it has been used for flexible PCBs for more than 30 years, this material offers low outgassing in a vacuum and resistance to radiation, fungi, and various other chemicals when utilized in heater applications. In addition, the etched foil element has high circuit pattern repeatability because photo imaging technology decreases production costs and improves heat transfer. Flexible heating elements can be placed very closely to one another, creating increased surface area.

Polyamine Flexible Heaters

Silicone Rubber Heaters

Silicone rubber heaters give dimensional stability and effective heat transfer capabilities without sacrificing flexibility; an etched circuit or wire-wrapped heating element is placed between fiberglass-reinforced silicone rubber. The internal foil of an etched foil heater may be the same as that of a polyimide heater. Still, silicone rubber offers reliable wear protection from mechanical damage and is more likely to be utilized in wet situations because of its tough properties.

Silicone Rubber Heaters

Using mechanical fasteners, such as latch fasteners, boot hooks, grommets, snap fasteners, springs, and lacing cords, is also made possible by silicone rubber. Any design can benefit from adding additional heat distribution and thermal shielding components, most frequently silicone sponge and aluminum.

Screen-Printed Heaters

Screen-printed heaters are created using special screen-printed ink onto a flexible substrate, such as polyester (PET), polyimide (PI), polycarbonate, and several others. Flexible screen-printed heaters can be made with ink that enables the heater to regulate its temperature or as fixed resistance heater designs that require a thermal control circuit to manage the temperature. These warmers are used frequently in the automotive sector to prevent ice from forming on side-view mirrors of vehicles, buses, and lorries.

Flexible silicone heaters are resilient, trustworthy, precise, and resistant to chemicals and moisture. They are glued or attached to other system components. Screen-printed heating elements have many industrial, commercial, and military uses where dependability, economic considerations, minimum cross-section, resistance to deterioration, and fundamental flexibility are crucial.

Screen Printed Flexible Heaters

Applications of Flexible Heaters

The Transportation Industry

Self-regulating flexible silicone heaters are vulcanized to different parts of transportation systems to prevent ice build-up during winters on moving parts of trains and transit systems.

Vacuum Environments

Spacecraft and satellites require vacuum conditions to operate and maintain these systems; efficient temperature control is needed to maintain a vacuum environment with no air. Flexible heaters help maintain the desired temperature in vacuum environments because they are directly attached to vital, temperature-dependent systems.

Batteries and Electronics in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Flexible heaters are vulcanized onto battery surfaces to help maintain their proper operating temperature range.

Medical Devices

Flexible heating systems are integrated into medical assemblies to maintain a specific temperature or range of temperatures in medical devices such as blood analyzers and small catheters.

Heat Transfer in Consumer Electronics

Flexible heaters are bonded to heat sinks to ensure proper heat transfer in consumer electronics like PlayStations® and mobile phones. In addition, they are often integrated with sensors to detect an increase in temperature.

The Advantages of Flexible Heaters

The benefits of flexible heaters include:

  • Resistant to chemicals and moisture
  • Easy to bond to any surface
  • Flexible and thin form factor
  • Cost-efficient
  • Over a wide temperature range, flexible heaters have strong thermal stability.

The Disadvantages of Flexible Heaters

The drawbacks of using flexible heaters include the following aspects:

  • Sharp radius bend limitations
  • Different temperature restrictions apply to flexible heaters made of polyimide and silicone.
  • Silicone costs more than certain other heater types, such as aluminum foil.
  • It may fail if suddenly pinched or folded.

Flexible Heater Informational Video

 

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