A cartridge heater is a tube-shaped, industrial heating element that can be inserted into drilled holes. Cartridge heaters provide localized and precise heating and are commonly used in the heating process industry. Typically, cartridge heaters are used to heat a metal block from the inside and can be custom manufactured to a specific watt density based on the requirements of the application.
A cartridge heater consists of resistance coil wound around a ceramic core that is surround by dielectric and encased in a metal sheath. Powered heat transferred through the coil to the sheath causes the sheath to heat up. This heat is then transferred to the inside metal part requiring heat.
To fit a cartridge heater in a low or medium temperature application (600°F or less), general purpose drills are usually adequate for drilling holes. Holes can be drilled .003” to .008” over the nominal size of the drill, resulting in fits of .009” to .014.” While this fit is slightly looser than would permit optimal heat transfer, it aids in the installation and removal of the cartridge heaters, especially those with long sheaths. At high watt densities, a close fit is much more important. The holes should be drilled and reamed rather than just drilled with a general purpose bit. With a tighter fit, the heater will run cooler and have a longer life expectancy.