Patch Heaters: Custom Heating Solutions From Asphalt to Aerospace


How do you keep a robotic arm or delicate components in an unmanned satellite warm in outer space? The same way you heat a bucket of hot patch asphalt… with patch heaters, also called flexible heaters or film heaters. They can work in any shape or size and provide precise temperature control.

Let’s explore the technology behind these heaters and highlight the importance of custom solutions for your unique heating requirements. 

Understanding Patch Heaters and Their Technology

Flexible heaters use either wire-wound or etched foil heating elements. There are three primary types of flexible heaters, categorized by their material: polyimide, silicone rubber, and polyester.

Polyimide flex heaters use an etched foil element layer that is inserted between two layers of polyimide film and glued together. A polyimide film heater is extremely thin, as low as 0.007 in. Applications include medical, aerospace, military, food service, and more. They are abrasion and chemical-resistant.

Silicone rubber heaters can be small patches of 1”x1” or larger, such as 18”x24”. The element can be wire wound or foil etched to save space. Industrial heating applications include medical equipment, oil and gas, automotive, aerospace, and more. 

Polyester flexible heaters can use wire wound, etched foil, or Indium Titanium Oxide (ITO) ink. Sometimes referred to as screen-printed heaters. They are an excellent choice for low-temperature applications. You’ll find this type mounted on the vehicle side view mirrors to keep them clear in freezing conditions.

Overall, flexible heaters offer a number of advantages. They are lightweight and have a low thermal mass, which allows for rapid heat-up or cool-down times. This feature makes them ideal for applications where weight is an issue, such as for aircraft and missiles.

Flexible Silicone Patch Heaters in Aerospace

In the aerospace industry, every additional kilogram can significantly increase fuel costs and reduce payload capacity. Flexible silicone patch heaters are lightweight and have a low thermal mass, meaning they cool quickly. These flat, flexible heating elements can be custom-designed to fit any shape or size, providing precise heat control without adding unnecessary weight.

They also offer excellent thermal stability, working in temperature ranges from  -70°F to 450°F (-56.6°C to 232.2°C). They are suitable for use in a wide range of conditions, from the cold vacuum of space to the intense heat of re-entry. Silicone rubber heaters are an invaluable tool in the aerospace industry.

Flexible strip heaters are also essential for earthbound jobs like heating tar.

Asphalt Patch Heaters for Road Repairs

Road maintenance crews are a common sight in most cities and towns. They often use hot patch asphalt to repair potholes and other road damage quickly and efficiently. Patch heating asphalt solutions such as hot boxes and drum heaters ensure the asphalt stays at the optimal temperature. These heaters can be mounted directly on pails, barrels, totes, or tanks, making transportation to the repair site easy. Alternatively, infrared asphalt heaters mounted on trucks use propane as fuel to melt the asphalt on the road for resurfacing. 

There are obvious differences between heaters used in aerospace and road repair. Let’s examine the difference.

Comparative Analysis of Patch Heater Applications

  Aerospace Applications Road Construction Applications
Power Supply Power supply ranges from 1.5v to 240v AC or DC 120v or 240v AC from 120w to 800w
Type of Material Silicone Rubber, Polyimide, Polyester Silicone Rubber
Environmental Temperature Ranges Work in conditions as low as 

-320°F (-195.5°C) up to 392°F (200°C)

-70°F to 450°F (-57°C to 232°C)
Watt Density or Heat Output 2.5Wper inch2 up to 50W per in2 0.15W to 1440W

Custom Powerblanket Solutions

When it comes to patch heaters, one size does not fit all. Different applications require different heating solutions. For example, custom flat blankets can thaw frozen sections of roadbeds before laying asphalt. Other Powerblanket products, such as hot boxes, drum heaters, tote heaters, and tank heaters, can keep construction jobs moving in freezing weather.

Powerblanket offers custom heating solutions that maintain consistent temperatures and improve safety, energy efficiency, and reliability.

The Importance of Customization in Heating Solutions

Heating customization is necessary because every heating application requires specific factors such as size, shape, temperature range, and control options. Customized heating solutions mean businesses can ensure optimal performance and efficiency in their operations.

A custom-designed patch heater can provide precise temperature control to specific surface areas without interfering with moving parts, increasing bulk, or adding much weight. It can also fit any shape or size in very tight spaces, such as drones and aircraft control panels.

Customization also allows for the integration of additional features, such as built-in thermostats, sensors, and switches. These features provide enhanced temperature control and safety, making the heater even more efficient and reliable.

Versatile and Efficient Patch Heaters for Your Heating Needs

Whether you need a lightweight silicone heater for an aerospace application or a rugged asphalt patch heater for winter road maintenance, there’s a patch heater that’s perfect for you.

If you’re in need of a customized temperature control solution, look no further than Powerblanket. With years of industry expertise, we have the knowledge and skills to tackle any heating challenge you may encounter. Explore Custom Solutions.

When you need a custom temperature control solution, Powerblanket is the company to call. With decades of experience, we can solve any heating dilemma you have.


Jen Reyes

Jen Reyes is the Business Development Director for Custom Solutions at Powerblanket. In this role, she works with custom products in all industries to deliver the best possible solution for her clients. With an extensive background in construction and electricity, Jen has a focused knowledge that makes her an invaluable asset to the Powerbanket team. When she's not working, Jen enjoys spending her free time golfing, working out, and spending time camping, fishing, and playing card games with her family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *