A substrate material being wound through rollers during roll-to-roll processing.
 The heat-producing components are printed on metal foil with a method known as roll-to-roll processing. Image: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

VTT’s innovation delivers heat where it’s needed

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has unveiled a thin and flexible precision heater suitable not only for indoor environments, but also for food packaging and clinical surfaces.

Aleksi Teivainen

18.01.2022

The bendable plastic-free heater can be installed in structures such as floors, seats and cushions, and walls and wallpapers to provide comfortable temperatures locally, thus reducing the amount of energy needed for heating.

The heat-producing electronic components are printed on a substrate material with a method known as roll-to-roll processing. The 0.05-millimetre thick metal mesh can then be cut to form and installed on materials such as fabrics, paper and floor laminates without any additional support layers and without significantly affecting the properties of the material – be it elasticity or breathability.

“We can produce extremely wide-ranging fast heaters for different surfaces and they can be controlled zonally by a common control system,” told Terho Kololuoma, principal scientist at VTT.

“In the future, intelligence can also be added to the heaters with sensors that can identify the person in the room and their perception of the comfort temperature, for example. With the help of sensors, the heater could also function as part of the safety system,” he envisioned.

The possible applications extend beyond living and working environments, too.

Hot Delivery Company is presently piloting the heater in its new food delivery bags to ensure the food stays both safe and delicious. The Finnish Food Authority requires that the temperature of food stays above 60°C during delivery to prevent the growth of microbes harmful to humans.

“Our heater could also be used to disinfect tables and other surfaces in hospitals and other public areas. The surface temperature can be quickly raised [to] up to 130 degrees,” added Kololuoma.

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