Tips for Choosing a Heating Element

As technology continues to advance, the need for efficient and effective heating solutions has become increasingly important in many industries. There is now a vast array of heating elements available on the market, each with unique features and benefits. However, choosing the right heating element for a specific application can be overwhelming, and selecting the wrong one can lead to reduced efficiency, increased costs, and potential safety hazards. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the factors that should be considered when choosing a heating element. In this blog, we will explore the critical considerations for choosing the right heating element for your application, including defining your requirements, understanding the nature of heating, calculating power and heat flux, evaluating the size and flexibility of the heating element, assessing the operating environment, installation, cost, and maintenance requirements. By considering these factors, you can choose a heating element that will provide optimal performance and reliability for your application.

Define your application requirements: Product RequirementIt’s essential to understand your application’s needs, including any specific performance or environmental conditions. Consider factors like the intended use of the heating element, the size of the heated area, the required temperature range, and any other specific needs. Identifying critical parameters like the type of heat sink, time to heat up, maximum temperature, recovery time, and total available power can help you choose the right heating element.

Heat transferDefine the nature of heating: There are three ways to transfer heat from a heating element: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction heaters rely on surface contact area to transfer heat, while convection heaters depend on either natural convection of air or forced convection using a fan to distribute heat. Radiation heating enables targeted heating from a distance. Radiation heaters, such as infrared heaters, can quickly reach high temperatures but may not be suitable for all applications.

Power calculation

Calculate the Power and Heat Flux: The total power required will depend on the mass, specific heat capacity, temperature change, and time. To calculate the heat flux needed, consider the power and resistor area of the heating element. Heat flux is the amount of heat energy that passes through a unit area per unit of time.

Size and massSize or mass of the heating element: The size or mass of the heating element can impact the heating speed and how long it takes to stabilize at a certain temperature. Lighter and thinner heating elements will heat up faster but may not hold the temperature steady as long as heavier heating elements due to their lower thermal mass. Heavier heating elements take longer to heat up but maintain the temperature more steadily over time.

Rigid vs flexibleRigid heater vs flexible heater: Some heaters, such as tubular and cast-in heaters, are non-flexible, while others, such as silicone rubber and Kapton heaters, are flexible. Consider whether a flexible heater is necessary for your application. Flexible heaters can be more easily adapted to fit specific shapes or spaces, while rigid heaters may provide more stability and precision in their heating.

Humid vs dryOperating Environment: The operating environment can impact the performance and reliability of heaters. Consider factors like humidity, corrosive gases, and other contaminants that may affect the long-term life of the heating element. Choosing the right heating element for your operating environment is essential for optimal performance and reliability.

InstallationHeater Installation: The installation method for a heating element will depend on the type of heater. For example, aluminum foil heaters are mounted using an adhesive, while silicone rubber heaters are mounted using an adhesive or vulcanizing it to a substrate. Datec’s Mica-TF heaters are mounted by bolting them to the substrate. Consider the appropriate installation method during assembly while also considering the importance of ease of replacement in the field

Calculate costEvaluate the cost of the heating element: The cost of a heating element can vary significantly depending on the type and quality of the element. While cheap options may seem attractive initially, they may be more expensive in the long run due to higher operating costs or shorter lifetimes or require additional components to make them work effectively (e.g., for spreading heat). On the other hand, more expensive options may provide a better performance, longer lifetimes, and reduced part counts. Therefore, consider the total cost of ownership when evaluating the cost of a heating element.

MaintenanceConsider Maintenance Requirements: Some heating elements require more maintenance. For example, sealed heating elements typically require less or no maintenance, while heating elements with exposed coils require regular maintenance to ensure proper functioning. Considering the ongoing maintenance requirements of a heating element is essential to keep costs down and provide reliable performance over time.



To Summarize, choosing the right heating element is critical for achieving optimal performance and reliability. By considering the above factors and working with a reputable heating element manufacturer, you can develop or select the appropriate heating solution for your application.

Datec Engineers can help if you are in the process of choosing a heater for your next project. Learn more about how we work.

If you are looking for a reliable company that provides high-quality thick film heaters, look no further than Datec. We have the experience and expertise to deliver the best possible product for your needs.

Click here to learn more about our heating technology.

Want to discuss how Datec can help you with your next project? Contact us here.

Halogen Dissociation Equipment using Thick Film Heater

NASA U2 aircraft

All life on Earth, including plants and animals alike, is protected from the harmful UV radiation of the Sun by a protective layer of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere.

A study published by British Antarctic scientists in Nature Magazine in 1985 highlighted a repeating springtime hole in the Antarctic ozone layer. Scientists warned that humanity could wipe out the ozone layer by 2050, without which UV-induced skin cancer rates would increase, and the ecosystem as we know it would disintegrate, resulting in large-scale death and destruction of biodiversity.


Today, however, our ozone layer is recovering and rebuilding itself, all thanks to an unprecedented action that followed this discovery. Scientists worldwide began intensive field studies in the Antarctic region, taking measurements from the ground and the atmosphere using platforms such as balloons and high-altitude aircraft. As a result, they identified that the leading cause of this ozone depletion was the chlorine present from a class of manufactured compounds called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs were found in numerous widely available products such as aerosol sprays in cosmetic products, paints and food industry, air conditioners and fridges etc.


The information about the harmful effects of ozone depletion spread among the public, and political leaders worldwide were motivated to take action to correct the trajectory of CFC gas emissions. In 1987, the Montreal protocol acknowledged that the worldwide emissions of certain substances could significantly deplete and modify the ozone layer, which is likely to result in adverse effects on human health and the environment. The control measures it listed included a directive for developing alternate chemicals that could replace CFCs and provided subsidies to the developing nations to help them switch away from CFCs. In the years following, as scientists continued atmospheric studies, more restrictive amendments were added to the Montreal Protocol to ensure ozone recovery. In an unprecedented move, every country has agreed and signed the protocol, making it the only existing universal treaty to be ratified. The Montreal Protocol is therefore often regarded as the most successful international environmental agreement. In a sense, this treaty is a symbol of unity on a global scale.


Today, scientists continue to study chlorine and ozone levels in Earth’s atmosphere, along with numerous other important targets related to climate change, weather, air quality, wildfires, etc. The data generated by these scientists are shared publicly and with governments to help make decisions and policies that impact not only the current population but also the upcoming generations.


One such experiment focused on Earth’s atmosphere is currently underway at Harvard University. The Harvard Halogens team works on monitoring systems flown aboard a NASA ER-2 aircraft, that measure levels of inorganic chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere. The instrument uses heaters to thermally dissociate larger molecules containing these elements. Their job is to instantly heat incoming air, moving at ~20 m/sec. Harvard originally used silicon strip heaters, but the brittle strips would often break under the wide ~300°C operating temperature span, and harsh environment. The failures resulted in loss of data and high replacement cost. Moreover, it caused undue delays in the project timelines. Datec’s solution to this problem was a direct replacement Stainless-steel thick film heater element.


One of the key challenges was the dimension of the heater. Each strip was 0.25mm thick, 60mm long, and 8mm wide. Datec designed a thick film heater to be deposited on either side of the stainless steel strip to generate enough heat to increase the temperature of the strip from 25 °C to 250 °C in 3 seconds.

Datec Stainless steel strip heaters

Figure 1 Datec Stainless Steel Strip Heater

Assembled Heater

Figure 2 Assembled Strip Heaters

After rigorous testing at Datec, heaters were shipped to Harvard for additional performance tests. Here is the initial feedback from the customer:

“They are so far meeting and exceeding expectations, and we are very encouraged by the results! We were able to power up strips individually and easily bring them up to the expected working 250°C temperature and beyond! The strips handled it with no apparent problems. They really looked good! We truly appreciate the huge effort that must have gone into manufacturing and testing all these strips in record time.”

-Marco Rivero

Datec’s team strives to solve our customer’s thermal challenges and push the limits of technology for the betterment of the world.

Datec: Why We’re the Best Choice for Thick Film Heaters

Datec is a world leader in the development of thick film heaters. We have had the thrill of revolutionizing thick film heating technology since 1995, using our innovative material formulations.

Serve a Wide Range of Industries

Datec offers unique thick film heating solutions through its numerous patents. We provide thick film heating solutions on various substrates such as aluminum, glass, mica, stainless steel, and hot/cold-rolled steel for many applications and industries.

The solutions we create fit perfectly with many medical lab, automotive, appliance and food equipment applications. Our custom thick film heating elements empower our customers to develop innovative, high-performance products.

Multiple Patents and Designs to Meet Customer Demands

Aluminum thick film heater

Your unique manufacturing needs are met with high-tech solutions using substrates that integrate seamlessly into your products. The major thick film heater elements that we manufacture include:

  • IntegrAl® – Aluminum substrate
  • Mica-TF® – Mica substrate
  • Glass-TF – Ceramic glass substrate
  • Stainless Steel TF – Stainless steel substrate

We collaborate with clients to create and build bespoke heaters based on their unique demands. If needed, our team can make prototypes in as little as 2-3 weeks to meet the demanding project schedule of our clients.

Our heating elements are engineered and manufactured at our facility in North America. This ensures efficient communication and short production lead times for our customers.

Benefits of Using Thick Film Heating Elements

Datec’s thick film heating elements offer numerous benefits when used in thermal applications. A few of the many advantages include:

  1. Custom heat zones on the substrate to allow targeted heating.
  2. Rapid heat up and cool down thanks to high watt density designs and low thermal mass enabling significant energy conservation opportunities
  3. Saves space as the heating element is printed directly on the substrate
  4. Precision heat controls with temperature options of up to 800 °F.
  5. Low leakage current enabled by excellent dielectric properties
  6. Uniform temperature distribution assisted by Datec’s unique block resistor technology.

If you are looking for a reliable company that provides high-quality thick film heaters, look no further than Datec. We have the experience and expertise to deliver the best possible product for your needs.

Click here to learn more about our heating technology.

Want to discuss how Datec can help you with your next project? Contact us here.

Datec is a custom heating element manufacturer specializing in thick film heating solutions. Our solutions are ideal for industries such as: commercial food service, medical devices, electronics, automotive, and appliances.
From prototyping to joint development, learn more about how Datec can work with your team.

Read More:
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Modernizing the Food Industry with Thick Film and Glass Heating
Energy Efficiency and thick film heaters

Modernizing the Food Industry with Thick Film and Glass Heating

The foodservice industry has been evolving for many years, but only in the past 70 years have speed, convenience, and consistency been so necessary to restaurant and food preparation operations, arguably propelled by the ‘McDonaldization’ of the industry. Not only are foodservice retailers needing to “keep up” in these categories, but they need to do it in style!

Food Holding Cabinet

With thick film technology and stylish glass heating surfaces, it’s easy to modernize your foodservice, warming stations, and kitchen space while maximizing operational and production efficiencies, and cutting costs without sacrificing quality.

Some of the benefits that can be taken advantage of by food industry retailers include:

Quick, Reliable & Precise
Heating and keeping food warm on glass equipped with thick film will have the food that is served to customers heated quickly, reliably, and evenly in the areas where you want heat concentrated. While warming with glass and thick film technology cuts down on time, it also has a 99.99% uptime over a tested 48 million hours of operation and provides you with a long-term solution to your culinary service needs.

One of the big benefits of choosing glass as a substrate is that glass elements heat up vertically, meaning that you can pinpoint the areas of the surface that you want to heat up. Similar to glass cooktops on stoves, you can keep select areas of the element cool, while increasing the temperature to suit your needs in other areas. This minimizes risk of accidents and burns, as well as unnecessary energy consumption. By leveraging the power of glass and thick film, you will also be able to keep your food uniformly warm with no ultra-hot or cold spots.

Eye-Catching Aesthetics & Easy Clean-Up
The undeniably sleek design of glass food warmers and cooktops is too beautiful not to mention. While other formats of warming stations can look bulky, dated, and quickly get messy, a smooth glass surface will help kitchens appear modern and polished. Not only will it be easier on the eyes, but it will also be much easier to clean and maintain!

Space, Energy & Cost Saving
Thick film technology allows for heating elements to be printed directly onto glass and other substrates to give you super slim fittings which can save materials, cost, and give you more space for other food preparation essentials. Typically applied to surfaces less than 0.3 mm in thickness, it’s safe to say that this technology is used to working well under pressure!
With a low thermal mass, food industry retailers using heating elements equipped with thick film will enjoy conserving energy while maximizing efficiency and reducing operating costs without compromising on performance.

Flexible Voltage Capabilities
Whether you’re in need of low-voltage or high-voltage warming solutions, this technology printed on glass is up to the task. Datec thick film heaters can be designed for voltages as low as 3.7 volts and as high as 800 volts, which means that regardless of whether you need heating power for larger appliances or smaller, portable applications, you’ll have the heat you need to keep products warm.

Why Datec?
For over 20 years, Datec has been creating customized heating solutions for many industries, including commercial food service, medical and precision devices, electronics, automotive, and appliances. We specialize in our patented thick film technology, working with our customers to fully understand their wants and needs, and ultimately deliver them a finished product that provides superior performance and is designed to provide them with immediate and long-term return on their investment. Our team of engineers is continually researching and refining our technology, to ensure that our clients receive only the best and most cutting-edge solutions.

Datec is a custom heating element manufacturer specializing in thick film heating solutions. Our solutions are ideal for industries such as: commercial food service, medical devices, electronics, automotive, and appliances. From prototyping to joint development, learn more about how Datec can work with your team.

Read More:

Will Parts Manufacturing and Research into New Technology Save the Canadian Automotive Industry?
Global Heating and Controls Manufacturer, E.G.O.- Group Makes Strategic Investment in Datec Coating Corporation.
Datec Heats Up Thick Film in Green Cars.