Heated Cube for Next Generation Mass Spectrometry

BCE Heated Cube
BCE Heated Cube

An analytical company approached BCE for their small space and high temperature heated gas requirement.  They needed to reduce the length and diameter of the current heat source to be able to fit into a more compact design for their next generation mass spectrometry tool.

  • The Heated Cube needed to satisfy the following:
  • Temperature up to 500°C   
  • Small, compact footprint 
  • Insulate heat source to retain heat and reduce outer temperature 
  • Reduce size from a 36” long cylinder to a 2” square cube 
  • 120-Volt 200-Watt 
  • Must pass all electrical safety and Meg-Ohm requirements 
  • Air path must be clean and free from ni-chrome wire exposure (chromium flaking) 

BCE produced a highly effective high temperature clean gas electric air heater with a major reduction in size.  A stainless steel gas heating package with a footprint of 2” x 1 ½”x 1” was the result.  This heater is compact and has an inlet of 1/8” BSPP and a 1/16” NPT outlet with a 36” long heated path that maximizes heat transfer to the fullest.

There are two zones of heat each at 100 watt with two sensors, one to control and one to monitor the temperature.  The outlet temperature can reach up to 500°C.

The Heated Cube comes complete with insulation and a SST jacket.  It can be mounted in an extremely tight space for most OEM tools that put a premium on space and performance.  Liquid and gas medium can be processed with this design.

Call BCE today at 510-274-1990 for more information, or visit their web site at https://bcemfg.com.

BCE Thanks Our Veterans

Veterans Day is a day of observance and celebration for those who have served in the United States military. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day because of the November 11 Armistice that ended World War I. In 1954 it was officially changed to Veterans Day to include Veterans of all wars. This holiday honors those who took an oath to defend the United States and our Constitution, from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Through the observance of Veterans Day, we remind ourselves of our Veterans patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

BCE thanks our Veterans, past and present, for serving our country and protecting our freedom.

Resistive Heating Elements for Gas Chromatography

Gas Chromatography Heater
Custom gas chromatograph heater by BCE.

What is Gas Chromatography?

The most basic understanding of gas chromatography (GC) is that of a separation technique. It is used in analytical chemistry for the prompt separation, identification and quantification of compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. Common uses of GC include testing the purity of a substance or separating and identifying the different components of a mixture.

The basic components of the GC system are:
  1. A long thin tube, referred to as a "column", and an oven or direct heating element that provides accurate temperature control and profiling. 
  2. The injector, which provides the means for the sample to enter the column.
  3. The detector, which provides the means for the sample to exit the column.
  4. The temperature control system.

Basic Understanding of Gas Chromatography

The sample (analyte) is transported through the column by the flow of an inert, gaseous mobile phase (typically nitrogen, helium, argon, or carbon dioxide). The GC column contains a liquid referred to as the "stationary phase" which, as it traverses the column, is repeatedly adsorbed onto the surface of an inert solid and desorbed back into the carrier gas stream. Based on an adsorbent's composition, it can have varying affinities to "hold". Because some constituent components are likely to spend more time in the stationary phase, while others are likely to spend less time, the separation process occurs.

Constant demand for optimized analytical throughput, GC portability, and less costly analysis propels the development of new gas chromatography designs and technologies. In recent decades, resistive heating technologies designed for the sample column heating have become commercially available and have grown in popularity. Resistive heaters have clear advantages over traditional air bath ovens, most notably direct, low-mass heating through conduction. The growth of portable GC systems has also benefitted from small, compact, low power resistive heaters.

The temperature control system is at the heart of gas chromatography accuracy, sensitivity and speed. This system is comprised of the electric heating elements, temperature controllers, and temperature sensors. All are critical in sample and column temperature regulation.

Gas Chromatography Heaters

This specialized category of electric heating element is designed to provide extremely uniform temperature profiles across the length of the GC column. This uniformity accommodates a stable temperature environment for the capture of repeatable and consistent data between runs. Gas chromatograph heaters allow for very precise temperature ramping and set point control to very tight tolerances. This is critical because the slightest fluctuation in column temperature during analysis will have significant effect on analysis outcomes.

Controlling the Temperature of the GC Column

Once the temperature profile of the column is established, a precision thermal control system is required to provide precision temperature control during the operation of the profile. The control system must be highly accurate and responsive, and must include advance control algorithms to handle a wide variety of column profiles.

Temperature Programmed Elution

In most cases, a ramping temperature profile is required when the analyte enters the column. The ramping temperature profile starts at a lower temperature and increases over time in a precise and linear fashion. At different points along the temperature profile, compound movement changes according to temperature exposure. This precise exposure to changing temperature enhances analyte separation and reduces cycle time.  Considering this, the heating element must be sized properly and have sufficient wattage to sustain the power requirements of the ramping temperature profile at all points along the ramp.

For more information about the application of resistive heaters for gas chromatography, contact a BCE applications engineer.

High Temperature 16 Pair Type J Thermocouple Feedthrough

Type J Thermocouple Feedthrough
16 Pair, High Temp Type J Thermocouple Feedthrough

A 3D Printer company specializing in Aerospace parts provided BCE a challenge in creating a High Temperature Feedthrough for their new composite 3D printer.  The 3-D composite company needed a high enough temperature in the sealed area with a vacuum chamber being essential in printing aircraft components.  They had difficulties integrating their existing thermocouple design into their expanded chamber with an off the shelf feedthrough.


The 16 (32-wire) Pair Thermocouple feedthrough needed to satisfy the following:
  • Operating temperatures between -25 C to 300 C
  • Low vacuum leak rate of 10^-9 ATM-CC/S or better
  • Able to withstand a 450 C Bake-out temperature
  • Type J thermocouples (customer preference) with ring terminations 
  • Fiberglass lead wires to withstand the high temperature

BCE successfully designed a Thermocouple Feedthrough with a type J T/C extension wire so that the customer could integrate the component with ease into their 3D Printer. The High Temperature Feedthrough went through extensive pressure and temperature cycling before being shipped.  One final helium leak check was made and a polarity verification for all connectors was done too.

For more information, contact BCE by calling 510-274-1990 or by visiting https://bcemfg.com

Copper Flange Heater for Gas Chromatograph

Copper Flange Heater
A gas chromatography application was brought to BCE involving a custom heater to ramp a cell end plate to 105°C. The customer had issues finding a solution due to the small surface area that needed to be heated (~ 0.75” diameter).  The requirement was a 25-Watt 120-Volt source, which resulted in a high resistance value (576 ohms) eliminating many heater options for this size and surface area.

  • Heater plate to be 105°C 
  • Good temperature uniformity (+/- 1.5%C)
  • 25 W 120 V
  • 1/8” Plate thickness max
  • Geometry to allow for three tubes to exit
  • 0.75” Diameter

Since etched foil polyimide heaters were not an option for this application, BCE engineers designed a 110 copper plate with a rod heater welded within the groove.  The rod style heater allowed for a higher resistance value and was more robust compared to other types of heaters.  Additionally, the cold section and lead orientation can be easily modified by the customer to accommodate their assembly.  BCE’s Copper Flange Heater was able to efficiently heat the small surface and save the customer from an expensive assembly redesign.

For more information, contact BCE by calling 510-274-1990 or by visiting https://bcemfg.com

High Temp Heater Chuck – 200mm

High Temp Heater ChuckA semiconductor equipment company in the Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) market approached BCE in need of a custom high temperature heater solution.  Their application involved a thin-film deposition using a sequence of various chemical processes.  Repeating these processes results in a thin film being slowly deposited. 


High Temperature Heater Chuck needed to satisfy the following:

  • Temperature <700°C   
  • Internal element must be able to withstand higher than 700°C
  • Thermal break between flange and base reducing heat transfer to flange area 
  • 316 Stainless steel base, sleeve, and flange must pass all required vacuum specifications
  • 240Volt 1450Watt
  • Built-in thermocouple type “K” inside internal element grounded with RF screening 

High Temp Heater Chuck
Click for larger view.

BCE produced a highly effective high temperature heater with exceptional uniformity.  The design was able to compress the internal element enough to allow for optimal temperature transfer.  The weld around the outside periphery of the base plate and the (3) lift–pin-hole-standoffs were essential in the design for vacuum integrity, ramp rate, and temperature stability. 

For more information, contact BCE. Call them at 510-274-1990 or visit their web site at https://bcemfg.com.

Fiber Optic Feedthrough

Fiber Optic Feedthrough
A company contacted BCE to design a fiber optic feedthrough for their new assembly. They required (4) x 100 inch single mode coupler fibers to reach a narrow area within their assembly. The customer had a difficult time finding a compatible solution due to the specific thread type and the long fiber length so they approached BCE to create a custom feedthrough. Due to the sensitive nature of fiber optic cable, a BCE Epoxy Feedthrough was the optimal solution.

  • 4x single mode Acrylate coated fibers
  • ¾”-16 threaded 316 SS fitting
  • Helium leak test: 5 x 10-8 atm-cc/s or better
  • Temperature range: 0°C - 65° C
  • Long lead length ~100”

Click for larger view.

The small outer diameter (245 µm with an 8 µm core) of the fibers and the long length, required the addition of Hytrel furcation tubing to prevent breakage by reducing the bend radius. This created a robust feedthrough to withstand a wide range of vacuum and temperature conditions. The fiber optic feedthrough exceeded expectations and achieved a 10 x 10-10 atm cc/s helium leak rate.

For more information, contact BCE. Call them at 510-274-1990 or visit their web site at https://bcemfg.com.

Mini Clean Flow - Stream Heater

Mini Clean Flow Heater
Mini Clean Flow Heater
A biotechnology company approached BCE in need of a custom heating solution. Their application required that the media must be heated to 75 °C in order to eliminate any pathogenic bacteria that may be present. Their current system was not heating the medium efficiently requiring a high watt density solution causing heater failure and carbonization of the material.


The Mini Clean Flow - Stream heater needed to satisfy the following:
  • Outlet of temperature of 75 °C (± 2 °C) to eliminate bacteria
  • Ability to place heater in a series flow configuration if necessary
  • Built in thermocouple for accurate temperature measurement
  • 185 Watt, 120 Volt
  • All wetted surfaces must be 304 Stainless Steel
  • Watt density below 30 WSI to avoid damage to the fluid or system

Test Results
Test Results - Click for larger view.
BCE designed a double wall inline heater with exceptional heat uniformity and reduced heat losses. The Mini Clean Flow Stream heater was built with internal components designed to turbulate the medium to increase efficiency and minimize watt density. This compact, low mass heater had the ability to precisely control the inner temperature for either over-temp or process medium control. The Mini Clean Flow – Stream was the ultimate solution for this application resulting in a more efficient process to eliminate pathogenic material.

For more information, contact BCE by calling 510-274-1990 or visit their web site at https://bcemfg.com.

Electric Heating Elements: Cartridge Heaters

Cartridge Heater
Click for larger view.

Cartridge Heater Basics

Cartridge heaters are cylindrical in shape, consisting of an element made of resistance wire wound around a ceramic core. Within a metal sheath tube, the wound core is precisely centered and surrounded by granular magnesium oxide material. This isolates the resistance element from the tube electrically and provides a heat transfer medium to the sheath tube. At one end are electrical terminations. In order to enhance internal heat transfer and electrical insulation characteristics, higher performance, longer-lived cartridge heaters are swaged (a rotary hammer compacting process). Swaging compacts and densifies the granular insulating material, improving its thermal conductivity. Cartridge heaters are commonly used and are produced in a broad range of lengths, diameters, wattages, watt densities, lead agreements, and optional internal sensors.

Cartridge Heater Applications

Cartridge Heater
Specialized Cartridge Heater (BCE)
The following equipment utilizes cartridge heaters: chromatography equipment; medical laboratory equipment, including chemistry analyzers; plastic molds and runners; platens; barrels on extrusion equipment; hot melt glue systems; packaging seal bars; labeling and marking systems; food-warming equipment and steamers; autoclaves; ovens; photographic processing equipment.

Cartridge heaters are capable of operating at elevated temperature as well as high watt density, but care must be taken to apply cartridge heaters at appropriate watt density and sheath temperature levels.

Temperature Capability

A maximum of 1600°F (870°C) sheath temperature is recommended.

Watt Density Capability

A maximum of 400 W/in. and higher under special conditions.  As a rule, cartridge heaters can operate at 1600°F at 40W/in.

Heater Life

Operating at 1600°F internal temperature with modest cycling and with the proper hole fit, a properly designed and constructed cartridge heater will provide approximately a one-year life.


Usually 120/240V, with 480V and custom voltages requiring special design or sizing considerations.

Thermal Response/Application

Cartridge heater's thermal response is dependent on conductive heat transfer in most applications.  Optimum conduction requires close fit between the heater and the work to be heated. As heater looseness increases, watt density must be decreased accordingly, to prevent internal overheating. Watt densities of liquid-immersion cartridge heaters vary according to the liquid's viscosity and heat capacity.  When heating liquids, care must be taken to prevent "film boiling" where vapor bubbles create a thermal insulating effect and raise the heaters internal temperatures.

Heater Efficiency

Cartridge heaters are 100% efficient when immersed.

For more information about electric heating elements, contact BCE by calling 510-274-1990 or by visiting https://bcemfg.com.

Happy Independence Day from BCE!

Mass Spectrometer Heaters

Mass spectrometry (or mass spectroscopy) is a technique of analyzing and identifying chemical substances by arranging gaseous ions in electromagnetic fields based upon their mass-to-charge ratios. A mass spectrometer is the instrument used in this analysis. Mass spectrometers operate according to a principle first discovered in 1898 by Wilhelm Wien, a German physicist, who determined that moving ions can be deflected by electromagnetic fields.

The mass spectrometers can be broken down into (5) basic components:
  1. The high vacuum system.
  2. The sampling system - the area is where the sample is conditioned and introduced.
  3. The ion source - the area is where the charged particle ion beam is produced.
  4. The analyzer - where the ion beam is separated into its components.
  5. The detector - where the ion beam separation data is collected.
Mass spec heater
A variety of heater used in mass spec.
Mass spectrometry is used for the identification of chemical elements to quantify their precise mass and concentration; for  analyzing organic and inorganic chemicals to detect small amounts of impurities;  analyzing complex organic material structure; determining chemical bond strength; and determining an unknown materials chemical and isotopic makeup.

Mass spectrometer heating elements, referred to as source heaters or gas line heaters, are used in mass spectrometers are used to turn the sample (typically in an aqueous or organic solution) into a vapor for analysis. The heaters are part of the sample conditioning system, prior to the analyzer and detector areas, where the vaporized sample is then bombarded by ionized high-energy electrons and analyzed.

Mass spec heater
An alternative design heater.
Heaters used in mass spectrometers are compact in design and provide a fairly high power density. They are fast responding and operate at temperatures up to 400 deg. C. They include internal temperature sensors for accurate control and limiting. While mass spec vary in form and fit, they all provide the same basic function -  as the energy source for the vaporization of the sample containing the atoms or molecules of interest.

BCE (Belilove Company-Engineers) is a leading manufacturer of electric heating elements for mass spectrometers. With decades of experience in custom engineering and design of heating elements for analytical instrumentation, they are an excellent candidate to discuss the unique needs of your application.
Mass spec heater
Yet another style mass spec heater.


The Operating Principle of Thermocouples

When two dissimilar metal wires are joined together at one end, a voltage is produced at the other end that is approximately proportional to temperature. That is to say, the junction of two different metals behaves like a temperature-sensitive battery. This form of electrical temperature sensor is called a thermocouple:

This phenomenon provides us with a simple way to electrically infer temperature: simply measure the voltage produced by the junction, and you can tell the temperature of that junction. And it would be that simple, if it were not for an unavoidable consequence of electric circuits: when we connect any kind of electrical instrument to the thermocouple wires, we inevitably produce another junction of dissimilar metals. The following schematic shows this fact, where the iron-copper junction J1 is necessarily complemented by a second iron-copper junction J2 of opposing polarity:

Junction J1 is a junction of iron and copper – two dissimilar metals – which will generate a voltage related to temperature. Note that junction J2, which is necessary for the simple fact that we must somehow connect our copper-wired voltmeter to the iron wire, is also a dissimilar-metal junction which will also generate a voltage related to temperature. Further note how the polarity of junction J2 stands opposed to the polarity of junction J1 (iron = positive ; copper = negative). A third junction (J3) also exists between wires, but it is of no consequence because it is a junction of two identical metals which does not generate a temperature-dependent voltage at all.

The presence of this second voltage-generating junction (J2) helps explain why the voltmeter registers 0 volts when the entire system is at room temperature: any voltage generated by the iron-copper junctions will be equal in magnitude and opposite in polarity, resulting in a net (series-total) voltage of zero. Only when the two junctions J1 and J2 are at different temperatures will the voltmeter register any voltage at all.

For more information about thermocouples (or any temperature sensor), contact BCE. They can be reached by calling 510-274-1990 or by visiting their web site at https://bcemfg.com.

Reprinted from "Lessons In Industrial Instrumentation" by Tony R. Kuphaldt – under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License.

BCE Smart Flow: for OEMs Who Need Very Precise, Uniform Heat

The SMART FLOW liquid heater is designed for applications where fast heating of liquids is required. All parts exposed to liquid flow are constructed of 304/316SS (other materials available). All units have built-in Type J or K TC with potential of added adapter for outlet flow.

The Smart Flow is often customized to suit the exact power, electrical, and mechanical requirements of the application. BCE engineers are ready to provide application assistance to design and apply the perfect Smart Flow for your needs.

Smart Flow Heaters Applications Examples:


BCE Smart Flow
9.0 KW (2 Zone 4500W each) (+/-10%), 240V, 23.5" Internal Length


BCE Smart Flow
7.5 KW (2 Zone 3750W each) (+/-10%), 240V, 31.5" Internal Length


BCE Smart Flow
HEATER: 1750W(+/-10%), 120V, 22-23WSI, 31.5" Internal Length
  • Wetted parts constructed of 316 stainless steel standardly. Other materials available as options.
  • Liquid flow passes over an enclosed heated body, does not contact the heating element directly.
  • Multiple threaded fittings available: NPT, SAE, BSP & VCR
  • Heater designed to provide very uniform heating.
  • Made in U.S.A.
For more information about custom electric heating elements, contact BCE by calling (510) 274-1990or by visiting https://bcemfg.com.

Custom Coiled Cable Immersion Heater with Thermocouple and Thermal Cutout

Custom Coiled Immersion Heater
BCE Custom Coiled Immersion Heater
with thermocouple and thermal cutout.
A major US Aerospace company approached BCE in need of a custom heating solution.  

Their existing heating element failed to evenly distribute heat inside a water reservoir, leading to thermal stratification and hotspots. 

Additionally, while the customer's existing thermal system included temperature limiting devices, the new heater design required it's own thermal cut-out to ensure over-temperature protection and remove any possibility of a runaway condition.

The coiled immersion heater needed to satisfy the following:
  • Temperature uniformity throughout the heated section (± 3 C)
  • Hermetic seal 
  • Over-temperature heater failure
  • Thermocouple for additional temperature measurement
  • 275 Watt, 115 Volt

Click for larger view.
BCE designed a highly effective coiled heater with exceptional heat uniformity.  An additional
thermocouple was welded to the sheath of the heater to ensure accurate temperature measurement. A thermal cutout was placed into the NPT bushing and potted with thermally conductive epoxy to allow for heater failure if all other safety systems fail. 

BCE was able to design, create 3D models/ drawings, and provide the custom heating elements within a 3 week timeframe.

Contact BCE:

BCE Mini Clean Flow: An OEM Customizable Clean Gas and Fluid Heater

Mini Clean Flow
Click on Mini Clean Flow drawing image for a larger view.

The BCE Mini Clean Flow electric heater is a very compact, fast responding electric heating element for liquids and gases used in the fuel cell, bio-med, laboratory, food, and pharmaceutical industries. Typical applications include: Parts cleaning; Critical fluid heating; Solvent replacement; Biomass extraction; Bio reclamation; Semiconductor processing equipment; and photoresist materials.
Mini Clean Flow
Click on Mini Clean Flow drawing image for a larger view.

The Mini Clean Flow is often customized to suit the exact physical, mechanical and operational requirements of the application. BCE engineers are ready to provide application assistance to design and apply the perfect Mini Clean Flow for your needs.
Mini Clean Flow
Click on Mini Clean Flow drawing image for a larger view.

These examples are just a few of the many custom configuration BCE has developed for customers.
Mini Clean Flow
Click on Mini Clean Flow drawing image for a larger view.
For more information about custom electric heating elements, contact BCE by calling (510) 274-1990 or by visiting https://bcemfg.com.

Custom Designed Vacuum Feedthroughs - Have it Your Way

High Amperage Electrical Feedthrough

High Amperage Electrical Feedthrough

A customer involved in lithium ion research approached BCE in need of a high amperage feedthrough that also met their packaging (size) requirements.

While the customer had no problem finding high amperage feedthroughs, or feedthroughs that met their size requirement, they could not find an acceptable electrical feedthrough that satisfied both.

BCE is known for designing to customer specifications, allowing engineers the freedom to build their systems according to their plans, and not having to make design sacrifices because of hardware limitations. This application is an excellent example of BCE's capability.


After a comprehensive application review with the customer, BCE went to work. Designs were completed in a few days and prototypes were completed in a few weeks. After preliminary tests and designs, a final prototype High Amperage Feedthrough was delivered for customer evaluation.

After thorough testing, the customer agreed that the application requirement was precisely met and the feedthrough functioned perfectly.

With the feedthrough now in production, all customer specified tests are performed prior to shipping and completed at BCE. Production and testing are controlled by a jointly developed standard operating procedure (SOP).

While this feedthrough was designed for a single, specific use, the underlying construction is designed to easily accommodate changes. Nearly every feature is customizable, including conductor type and gauge, flange type and size, component materials, and electrical rating.

The BCE High Amperage Feedthrough needed to satisfy these customer criteria:
  • 150 Amp 30 Volt
  • Custom KF50 Flange 
  • Vacuum rating: 10-6 ATM-cc/s 
  • Feedthrough Seal Temp: -10 C to 60 C
  • Able to withstand the weight of the heavy gauge wire

Miniature Cartridge Heaters

Miniture Cartridge HeaterMiniature cartridge heaters are roughly defined as electrical cartridge heaters 3" or shorter in length, having diameters of 1/8", 5/32", or 3/16", and providing high watt densities (although low to medium watt densities are available). Their exterior construction is usually 304 or 316 stainless steel, with internal nickel chromium (Nichrome) resistance wire. A variety of electrical lead wire configurations to meet the needs of the application are available. Because of their swaged (machine compressed) construction, miniature cartridge heaters provide a high level of shock and vibration resistance, as well as good dielectric strength.

Miniature cartridge heaters are used to provide localized, concentrated heat to small component parts or in restricted work spaces. Dies and platens, as well as a variety of other types of OEM processing machinery, are efficiently heated by miniature cartridge heaters.

Typical OEM Uses for Miniature Cartridge Heaters
  • Gas monitoring equipment / analyzers
  • 3D printing machine
  • Medical equipment and devices 
  • Ink printing and labeling machines
  • Mass spectrometers
  • Analytical process instrumentation
  • Optical equipment
  • Gas chromatography
Operating temperatures as high as 1200 deg. F can be attained with careful attention paid to the application. Miniature cartridge heaters are almost always mounted in a close tolerance holes or swiftly circulating fluids because their often very high power densities would cause them to self-destruct if run full power in open air or stagnant fluids. As with all cartridge heaters, lifespan is directly proportional to the success or ability to move the heat from the internal nickel chromium resistance wire into the heated part or process. Therefore, careful consideration must be giving to hole tolerances or process flow rate before application.  It is common for miniature cartridge heaters to include internal thermocouples for temperature control and limiting purposes.

For more information about miniature cartridge heaters, contact BCE.

Custom Engineered Extrusion Die Heater Reduces Downtime, Increases Production

Extrusion Die Heater
Extrusion plays an important role in the plastics industry. Unlike molding, extrusion is a continuous process that can be adapted to produce a wide range of finished or semi - finished products, including pipes, profiles, sheets, film and wire covering. Extrusion machines are fitted with a variety of dies.

Dies often require external heating to keep the plastic viscous. This is accomplished by using electric cartridge heaters inserted in holes in the die, or by other custom electric heating elements that are mounted to the die.


A plastic extrusion customer approached BCE with a problematic heater that, upon its failure, would render the entire line out of commission. Not only did the failed heater stop production, but it also was difficult and time consuming to replace.

After reviewing the application, BCE engineers quickly determined the heater was designed as a consumable part with limited operational life, and little to no serviceability. BCE was going to have to design a replacement heater that would not only be a drop-in retrofit, but would be built to last and easy to replace if needed.

  • The heater needed to satisfy the following criteria: 
  • Continuous operating temperature of 200 °C.
  • Minimal temperature deviation: ±2 °C.
  • 10-32 tapped holes for custom terminal enclosure.
  • Compatible with proprietary mounting fixture.
  • Robust heater design to support long term continuous heating at 480 V in series .
  • Heater plate designed for ease of access and serviceability.


After generating all the necessary drawings and 3D models, BCE’s engineers successfully designed and manufactured a circular custom heater assembly to replace the customer’s original part. Custom tubular heaters were embedded into a machined aluminum ring. The positioning of the heater terminals were key to the ease of replacement and had to be carefully engineered.

With this new, improved design, BCE was able to increase heater performance and efficiency, as well as  guaranteeing  temperature uniformity to within 2 °C around the periphery. Additionally, BCE modified the heater terminal electrical insulation to adequately support 240V (480V in series). Finally, the aluminum ring enclosure was designed to allow fast and easy replacement of the tubular heating elements, reducing down time and lost production.

For more information, contact:

New Epoxy Compounds Give Researchers and OEM's Design Freedom in Specifying Vacuum Feedthroughs

OEM feedthrough
OEMs can no get a feedthrough to fit their design criteria.
Scientists and researchers are constantly challenged to come up with better ways to read data in a vacuum environment. Traditional ceramic and glass-to-metal vacuum feedthroughs do not offer design flexibility. Unique control and data signals must pass through the wall. In addition to passing electrical power and control signals, fiber optic cables and pneumatic tubing may be included. Always changing variables, such as the number and types of connectors, unique geometries, and limited available space, make finding an off-the-shelf feedthrough difficult. This has traditionally forced designers to compromise and specify a feedthrough with some, but not all, of the desired specifications. 

epoxy feedthrough
Clear epoxy feedthrough with ribbon connector.
This reality has led to significant development gains in custom epoxy feedthrough. Epoxy feedthroughs overcome design constraints. New epoxy properties rivaling ceramic and glass performance have been developed. High performance, clear epoxy potting opens the door for researchers to specify the exact number and type of wires, optical fiber cables, or any other insert that they require. Epoxy feedthrough manufacturers can provide a virtually limitless variety of wires, cables, or tubes along with the added benefit of fast prototyping and small production runs — perfect for the research and manufacturing community. 

Flanged feedthrough
Flanged feedthrough with epoxy potted fiber optic cable.
With the development of custom epoxy feedthroughs medical device companies, analyzer manufacturers, laboratories, aerospace companies and other R&D facilities can design their equipment based on optimum size, cost and performance, and not be forced to compromise by the limitations of ceramic and glass-to-metal feedthrough. Because of the constant pressure on "better, faster, smaller" vacuum equipment researchers and OEM designers, it's clear that epoxy feedthroughs provide flexibility and options for more efficient and creative design.

For information on epoxy vacuum feedthroughs, contact: 

(510) 274-1990

Feedthroughs Used for Penetration of Vacuum and Pressure Vessels

Many types of OEM equipment, including medical, analytical, semiconductor, aerospace and laboratory test equipment, require a leak-proof penetration into a vacuum or pressure chamber. The device that accommodates this penetration is referred to as a feedthrough (sometimes spelled "feedthru"). For the most part feedthroughs allow electrical currents or voltages into the vacuum or pressurized area. There are also many other non-electrical requirements for pressure/vacuum vessel penetration. Some examples of non-electrical penetrations are fiber-optic, fluid tubing bundles, and process control sensors such as thermocouples.

Multi-pin Threaded or Flanged FeedthroughsMulti-pin Threaded or Flanged Feedthroughs

Multi-pin feedthroughs have circular flanged or threaded connectors for moderate pin density. They are typically offered with differing numbers of pins (often, 3, 5 or 7) and rated to 3.5 amps and 500 volts per pin. There are both single-ended and double-ended versions which offer a connector for the air side or both air and vacuum side connectors respectively.

Thermocouple FeedthroughsThermocouple Feedthroughs

A thermocouple feedthrough is an electrical vacuum feedthrough commonly used for systems involved in temperature measurement. The thermocouple feedthrough itself doesn’t measure temperature, but is used to conduct the voltage signal from the vacuum to an external device. These are suitable for use in ultra-high vacuum applications.

High Power FeedthroughsHigh Power Feedthroughs

High power electrical feedthroughs transmit high current and/or high voltage into a vacuum system. Variations of power electrical feedthroughs offer a range of current and voltage.

Epoxy Potted Feedthroughs
Epoxy Potted Feedthroughs

Epoxy vacuum feedthroughs offer the best application flexibility, they are cost competitive, and they have a high vacuum performance for today’s fast moving markets. Clear epoxy feedthroughs allow for the visual inspection of your components. They are board mountable with high vacuum performance and very competitive pricing compared to ceramic and metal seals.

Fiber Optic FeedthroughsFiber Optic Feedthroughs

Fiber Optic Feedthroughs provide the interface between fiber optics and UHV technology. They allow fiber optic cables are designed for vacuum applications requiring fiber optic connections from inside a vacuum system to external equipment.

Fluid FeedthroughsFluid Feedthroughs

Also referred to as fluid feedthroughs, they are designed for the transmission of gases or coolants into high and ultrahigh vacuum environments.  Generally constructed from 300 series stainless steel, they are available in single or multi-tube configurations.

Many accessories are available to be used in conjunction with the wide variety of vacuum feedthroughs. These included vacuum connectors, connectors, insulated wire, cable assemblies, insulators, and spacers, just to name a few.

Specialized feedthroughs may be needed if your application includes cryogenic or very low temperatures, high temperatures, aggressive chemicals, or high pressure. Contact an experienced manufacturer who specializes in vacuum feedthroughs to discuss which feedthrough will best meet your needs. A company worth their salt should be able to discern which would be the best fit with minimal hassle.

Twin Type-C Thermocouple, High Temperature, High Vacuum Feedthrough

Twin Type-C Thermocouple FeedthroughBACKGROUND

An application was presented to BCE in the semiconductor equipment industry for a high temperature, high vacuum thermocouple (TC). There was space limitation with a requirement for a multi-point TC to sense a very small insertion dimension. The TC probe area must be able to bend to allow the sensor tip to penetrate the temperature sensing zone. The BCE engineers and technicians were ready for the challenge with their experience in ceramic-to-metal sealing and high temp sensors.

  • Twin Type-C Thermocouple Vacuum Feedthrough needed to satisfy the following criteria:
  • <1425°C continuous operating temperature in probe area
  • Two independent type “C” thermocouple probes
  • KF16 Flange
  • Vacuum rating: 10 9̄ ATM-CC/Sec
  • Feedthrough Seal Temp: -25°C to 300°C
  • Probe section needs to be bendable and vacuum compatible with SEMI standard

BCE designed an effective High Temperature Vacuum TC that was delivered for prototyping and customer testing. The application requirement was met and the function was sound. All tests performed prior to shipping were completed at BCE. A standard operating procedure (SOP) was finished and the part is production ready.

More information on this BCE product can be found at this link. 


High Temperature Vacuum Feedthroughs

Thermocouple FeedthroughThermocouple/Feedthrough Assemblies

Thermocouple Feedthroughs are used in many vacuum applications for temperature measurement. Thermocouples create a voltage signal from inside the vacuum system to external measuring instruments. BCE offers several standard thermocouple feedthrough designs as well as custom designs to meet your exact needs.

Nine pin circular feedthroughs

9 Pin Vacuum Feedthroughs

Nine pin circular feedthroughs (often called instrumentation feedthroughs) are commonly used for the transmission of low power electrical signals. They are designed for applications where typical Subminiature Type-D connections will not fit, or where there is little space. The circular geometry allows the installation of this feedthrough into very small vacuum flanges. They are often used in instrumentation applications such as semiconductor processing, electron microscopy, and a variety of analyzers.

BCE designs and builds high temperature vacuum feedthroughs for OEM and R&D. Contact them by calling (510) 274-1990, or visit https://bcemfg.com/feedthroughs.

OEM Equipment Manufacturers: Look Toward the Experienced Sales Engineer for Project Success

OEM heater and feedthrough sales engineer
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who work closely with vendor sales engineers in the design of assembly components (such as electric heating elements and vacuum feedthroughs) gain a valuable competitive advantage. By understanding what these professionals have to offer, and taking advantage of their skills, OEM designers end up with better project outcomes.

Sales engineers are a readily available resource of application knowledge. Unlike information pulled from the Internet, sales engineers possess real-time product information. They are also exposed to many different product applications and are a wealth of tacit knowledge. All readily available for sharing with their customers.

OEM design engineers often find themselves sailing in uncharted waters. In the application of electric heaters or feedthroughs for instance, designers don't always have a full grasp of heater or feedthrough design constraints. When these situations occur, the heater sales person provides a real benefit in teaching and advising the designer what is possible.  Additionally, many sales engineers have access to unpublished product and application information, which can be hugely important when attempting to build a leading edge product.

Of course any solutions proposed are likely to be based upon the products sold by the representative, but the best sales people will share the virtues of their products openly and honestly. The best sales engineers will even admit when they lack the product or experience to solve the problem, but even in this situation, you can be sure their perspective will still be of value. The goal is to build a long-term, trusting relationship - one of value to both parties. Sales engineers are in the business of dealing with people and making the important connections between customers and manufacturers. They make it their business to know what’s going on with products, companies and industries.

As an engineer or purchasing professional responsible for the design and manufacture of OEM equipment, know that working closely with a vendor sales engineer will save you precious time and greatly improve the likelihood of successful project outcomes. Their success, and your success, go hand-in-hand.

Electric Heating Elements and Electrical Feedthroughs for OEM Applications

BCE offers OEM (original equipment manufacturers) custom electric heaters, feedthroughs and BCE OEM customers benefit from decades of thermal design and applications experience. With a reputation for fast prototyping, quick turnaround for pre-production runs, and an eye for cost-effective design, equipment manufacturers quickly discover that find BCE is a long-term, highly valued supplier/partner.

OEM Equipment Markets
  • Aerospace
  • Semiconductor
  • Analytical Instruments
  • Photovoltaic
  • Medical Equipment
  • Plastics Processing
  • Foodservice Equipment
  • Packaging

OEM Electric Heaters & Feedthroughs: Price, Delivery, Performance

Scanning Probe Control Panel Feedthrough

Scanning Probe Control Panel FeedthroughAn application was presented to BCE in the high-resolution scanning industry for sealing a control
panel. The panel had over 10 inlet and outlet ports using various DB connectors that required hermetic sealing. The BCE engineers and technician were ready for the challenge since the experience with PCB boards was similar in scope using multiple components.

Scanning Probe Control Panel Feedthrough needed to satisfy the following criteria:

  • <50°C continuous operating temperature
  • Chamber is pressurized
  • Female to female connection panel mount with multiple outputs
  • Pressure rating: <15 psi
  • Hydro test at atmospheric pressure
  • Air test <15 psi


Scanning Probe Control Panel FeedthroughBCE designed an effective panel using BCE-Board Seal epoxy to seal without breaking the chamber or contaminating the outside. The customer saw a noticeable improvement with their resolution, particularly the imaging device. All DB connectors performed well without any residual moisture as seen in prior iterations.

BCE’s Board Seal epoxy’s adhesion was the strongest of any adhesive bond. The viscoelastic nature of the epoxy absorbs vibrations and allows for a better performance by reducing fatigue.

For more information, contact BCE. Phone 510-274-1990 or visit https://bcemfg.com.