Ceramic Fiber Heaters Improve 50 Year Old Thermographic Printing Process


Thermographic printing produces raised lettering, like that found on many business cards. Raised lettering is achieved by melting plastic dust, applied in the shape of lettering, onto the paper's surface while it travels under an array of radiant heaters.

Since the 1940's, thermographic printing machines have been using tubular radiant heating elements to effect the melt process. While delivering satisfactory performance, the tubular heating elements had several drawbacks:

  • They consumed excessive power for the actual heat being used
  • Produced environmental heat, making the work place uncomfortable
  • Could not evenly distribute heat for fast throughput
  • Required a larger machine to accommodate space for heating elements, reflectors and insulation


Watlow's solution was to increase performance by replacing the tubular radiant heating elements with ceramic fiber heating elements. Those used were high emissivity hot face coated V-sinuated elements.

The combination of insulation and heating element in one package reduced the thermographic printing machine's size at the same time reducing environmental heating.

Additionally, the ceramic fiber heaters directed more usable heat energy to the process, lowered energy consumption and delivered a more even heat for faster throughput.