Most foil heaters are etched using an automated machine. The etching in the foil helps to distribute the heat evenly when the power source is turned on by putting more of the surface in contact with the device being heated. The computer-designed etched foil is sometimes manufactured with a laminated coating on either side to insulate it.
One of the many advantages of foil heaters is that they can heat up rapidly because the foil is highly conductive and very thin. The thin foil sheets can easily be integrated into products that need heating but do not have a lot of excess space.
A foil heater requires wider elements, but these elements can be spaced much closer together. Because of this, many elements can be added to the foil and run side by side, producing more heat in less space.
The foil in a foil heater is usually made out of aluminum, and a wire element is run through the foil to spread the heat. This element is covered by an insulating sleeve. Sometimes one side of the foil contains adhesive material so that it can be fixed to a flat surface in the application that it is being manufactured for. If the foil is flexible, the heater can be bent to match the angles of a particular shape.
Aluminum foil sheets can be cut in a variety of sizes, and many manufacturers offer custom prototype manufacturing to help companies who are in the product development stage. Once a successful prototype is created, a large number of foil heaters will be manufactured and shipped to another business where they are integrated into the product assembly line.
Foil heaters are used in many industries and they can be found in products like car battery warmers, cabinets, defrost applications, heated food tables, laboratory equipment, incubators, ceiling panels, and wall panels. Etched foil heaters are the solution of choice for engineers dealing with advanced thermal management applications that require heat but lack space. Electronic devices can be soldered directly to the foil, allowing for integrated control and display features.