Posted on

When to Use a Single Setpoint Controller

Single setpoint controllers are used for metal heat treat and executing simple kiln firing schedules.

When shopping for a kiln controller, it’s important to get a controller with the functionality you need. While advanced programmable digital kiln controllers have robust features to easily execute even the most complex firing schedules, some kiln operators don’t need to execute complex schedules with specific ramp rates for multiple steps. For these operators, a single setpoint controller might be a more affordable option.

Types of Artists a Single Setpoint Controller Won’t Work For

Before discussing the types of artists who should consider purchasing a single setpoint controller, it’s important to discuss the types of artists a single setpoint controller won’t work for. After all, buying a kiln controller that doesn’t include the functionality you need is a total waste of money!

Most Glass Artists

For most glass artists, a single setpoint controller won’t be a viable kiln control option. Kiln firing schedules for glass require the kiln to heat up to multiple setpoints at highly controlled ramp rates. If you heat up glass too fast or cool it down too quickly it can cause breaking or jeopardize its structural integrity.

While glassblowers can use a single setpoint controller to control their pick-up ovens, most glass kilns require advanced process controllers.

Most Ceramic Artists

Likewise, most ceramic artists will probably need to invest in a multi-setpoint kiln controller. Like with glass, most firing schedules for ceramic require multiple steps with specific ramp rates to avoid blowouts and preserve the structural integrity of the ceramic piece. It is worth noting that throughout most of kiln history, pottery was fired without the use of a multi-setpoint controller (or any controller at all!). But for most modern ceramic artists, an advanced multi-setpoint controller will be a better option.

However, if a ceramic artist uses a dedicated kiln for candling clay, a single setpoint can be a good control option for that application.

Artists Who Want Maximum Convenience

Additionally, a single setpoint controller does require more manual intervention. It’s up to the user to manually turn the kiln off or enter a new setpoint for an additional step. The soon-to-be released TAP&Go Single Setpoint Controller allows user to abort firings from their smartphone via TAP Kiln Control Mobile. However, many artists appreciate the convenience of having their controller automatically terminate firings once the necessary hold time has been reached. For kiln operators who want the convenience of having their controller automatically manage the entire firing schedule, a multi-setpoint controller will be a better option.

Types of Artists Who Should Consider a Single Setpoint Controller

Now that we’ve covered the types of artists a single setpoint controller won’t be a good fit for, let’s discuss those who should consider a single setpoint controller. Afterall, it doesn’t make sense to pay for functionality you don’t need!

Heat Treat Artists

For heat treat artists, such as those who make blades, jewelry, or work with metal clays, most firing schedules only require a single setpoint. In heat treat, ramp rates only apply to the cooldown process. These largely occur outside of a kiln through quenching, exposing the metal to room temperature, or insulating the metal in blankets or sand.

Single setpoint kiln controllers can be the perfect solution for bladesmiths, such as Delight Valley Blades.

For these types of artists, a single setpoint controller is the perfect solution! Additionally, a single setpoint controller can be used for the following applications:

  • Storing material at a single, controlled temperature.
  • Heating material to ensure it stays dry.
  • Controlling the temperature of a greenhouse or hydroponic tank.
  • Candling clay prior to firing.
  • Brewing beer (although a multi-step controller can add significant convenience!).

The TAP&Go Single Setpoint Controller by SDS Industries

If a single setpoint controller sounds like a good solution for your kiln control needs, we encourage you to check out the soon-to-be released TAP&Go Single Setpoint Controller! Designed specifically for heat treat artists, knifemakers, or users who don’t need to execute complex firings, TAP&Go takes the precision and ease-of-use of TAP and simplifies it into the most advanced single setpoint controller on the market.

TAP&Go is an advanced single setpoint kiln controller by SDS Industries.

With TAP&Go, heat treats artists have the ability to:

  • Easily enter the temperature you want the kiln or oven to heat to – from the 2.4” touchscreen or the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app – and let the controller do the work.
  • Enjoy complete remote monitoring and control through the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app with a premium subscription.
  • Use TAP&Go’s built-in WiFi and Bluetooth to automatically pair with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app.
  • Prevent eye strain with light and dark modes and large, full-text displays.

 

Explore Single Setpoint and Multi-Setpoint Controllers by SDS Industries

Whether you’re looking for a single setpoint or multi-setpoint controller, TAP has you covered! The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use multi-setpoint temperature controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

The soon-to-be-released TAP&Go includes many of the benefits of TAP but streamlines everything into a single setpoint controller so that heat treat artists only have to pay for the functionality they need!

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop the most advanced programmable digital kiln controllers for sale.

Posted on

How Safety Limit Controllers Help with Kiln Safety

Safety limit controllers enhance kiln safety by automatically shutting off your kiln if it exceeds a certain temperature.

Kilns get hot! When it comes to kiln safety, using a safety limit controller helps ensure that a kiln automatically shuts off if it exceeds a pre-defined temperature.

Safety Limit Controllers and Safety Redundancy

While advanced process controllers like TAP and TAP II have max temperature safety shutoff, you’re still entrusting the safety of yourself, your household, and your property to a single layer of safety measures.

With proper maintenance, high quality programmable kiln controllers, kiln relays, and thermocouples are extremely reliable. However, they do fail from time to time.

Watch SDS Industries’ President Scott Shannon explain the pros and cons of different types of relays.

Adding a safety limit controller (like TAP Monitor) to your kiln or oven build, adds a layer of safety redundancy. Wiring a safety limit controller to a redundant safety relay ensures that your kiln safely shuts off even if your primary controller or relay fails.

Benefits of Remote Temperature Monitoring

In addition to acting as a safety limit controller, TAP Monitor is also a pyrometric device that adds precise remote temperature monitoring to your kiln or oven build – even if you’re using a manual kiln or an automatic controller from a less advanced temperature controller manufacturer.

With the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, you can monitor kiln temperature, receive push notifications alerts and alarms, and view real-time firing graphs – even if you have to step away from your project.

This is not only extremely convenient, but it adds an additional layer of kiln safety, keeping you immediately informed of any discrepancies in your firing schedule.

Do I Need a Safety Limit Controller?

Safety limit controllers are much more common in industrial kiln and industrial control system (ICS) applications. Most at home and studio kiln and oven builds don’t include a safety limit controller. And this is usually fine most of the time (especially if you use solid state relays and your primary kiln controller includes max temp safety shutoff).

However, like most safety devices, when you need a safety limit controller, you really need one. A small investment in a safety limit controller potentially protects your property, your health, and will save you massive amounts of money in a worst-case scenario.

If you’re still using a manual kiln or an outdated automatic kiln controller (which includes most kiln controllers currently on the market), we strongly encourage you to invest in a safety limit controller that adds max temperature safety shutoff, precise pyrometric monitoring, and remote kiln monitoring.

Adding TAP Monitor Safety Limit Controller & Pyrometer to Your Kiln or Oven Build

SDS Industries, known for creating the most advanced, easy-to-use automatic kiln controllers, is releasing a safety limit controller and digital pyrometer. TAP Monitor, which is releasing in several months, is already available for pre-order.

TAP Monitor is available as a set of DIY components that can be wired directly to a safety relay (starting at $97.50) to act as a combination safety limit controller and digital pyrometer, or as a plug-and-play standalone remote pyrometer that includes a type K thermocouple and a 2.4” capacitive touchscreen (available for $265).

TAP Monitor is an advanced digital pyrometer that brings precise temperature measuring and remote monitoring to any kiln or heat treat oven.

Both configurations improve kiln safety, but they’re also an affordable way to modernize kiln builds that don’t include precise, remote temperature monitoring. TAP Monitor provides a host of benefits (regardless of the type of kiln control method you currently use):

  • Protect yourself and your family by wiring TAP Monitor to a safety relay to provide redundant safety shutoff.
  • Have peace of mind by knowing the exact temperature of your kiln, oven, or forge every step of the way (via TAP Kiln Control Mobile).
  • Save time and effort by knowing the state of your kiln no matter where you are.
  • Ensure more consistent outcomes and enjoy added convenience by upgrading your existing automatically or manually controlled kiln to include precise, real-time digital temperature readings.


Explore Kiln Control Solutions by SDS Industries

In addition to the TAP Monitor Safety Limit Controller, the TAP Ecosystem includes a variety of programmable kiln controllers that give artists complete control of their kilns. The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, pyrometers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

CTA for TAP Kiln Controller Shop Pages

Posted on

What is a Kiln Sitter?

Header Image for a Blog on Kiln Sitters

Before the invention of automatic kiln controllers, the kiln sitter was a major innovation in kiln control technology. Introduced in the 1950s, a kiln sitter is a mechanical device that automatically shuts off a manual kiln when it has reached a specified temperature. 

Unlike digital controllers, which utilize thermocouples, control algorithms, and microchips to precisely monitor kiln temperature and regulate power, kiln sitters utilize more primitive technology to determine when the kiln has reached temperature: melting and gravity! 

Components of a Kiln Sitter 

Before explaining the mechanisms of how a kiln sitter determines when to shut off power to the kiln, it’s important to understand the various components of a kiln sitter:

  • Cone Supports: Two cone supports in the interior of the kiln are used to support the sitter cone.
  • Sitter Cone: The sitter cone (or witness cone) is a small pyrometric cone that is placed on top of the cone supports and used to prop up the sensing rod.
  • Sensing Rod: The sensing rod is a metal rod that connects the interior of the kiln to the exterior components of the kiln sitter. On the interior side of the kiln, the sensing rod is propped up on top of the sitter cone. On the exterior side of the kiln, the sensing rod is connected to a claw assembly that holds up the weighted latching mechanism.
  • Weighted Latching Mechanism: The weighted latching mechanism, on the exterior of the kiln, is connected to the sensing rod at the top of the latch. The bottom of the latch is a weighted hinge that will naturally fall unless held in place by the claw assembly.
  • Timer: A timer on the exterior of the kiln sitter shuts off the kiln when the timer hits its allotted time.
  • Plunger: Situated within the weighted latching mechanism when the latching mechanism is flipped up into the on position, the plunger is depressed so that the timer is initiated.

Illustration showing the components of a kiln sitter with labels.

How a Kiln Sitter Works

On the interior of the kiln, the sensing rod is propped up by the sitter cone. While the sensing rod is propped up, it lowers the claw assembly to hold up the weighted latching mechanism on the exterior of the kiln, allowing the kiln to be powered on. 

However, as the kiln heats up, the sitter cone begins to melt at a specified temperature, allowing the sensing rod to move lower under the weight of gravity. As the sensing rod lowers, the assembly claw is lifted. When the sitter cone melts to a 90° angle, the sensing rod is fully lowered, the assembly claw is fully raised, and the weighted latching mechanism falls, causing the kiln to power off. 

Illustration of the position of the sensing rod when the sitter cone is melted.
When the sitter cone has melted to a 90° angle the sensing rod is fully lowered, and the kiln is powered off.

 

How to Use a Kiln Sitter

Using a kiln sitter is extremely easy. Below is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Select a sitter cone that matches the pyrometric cone temperature rating for the ceramic or other material you’re firing. Different materials have different firing temperatures. Select a sitter cone that matches the cone temperature of your material. This ensures that your sitter cone will melt and power off the kiln at the correct temperature.
  2. With one hand, hold up the weighted latching mechanism and attach it to the claw assembly. Make sure that there is proper clearance between the weighted latching mechanism and the claw assembly (usually 1/16th of an inch). The two should not be touching at the start of the kiln firing.
  3. With your other hand, insert the sitter cone between the cone supports and the sensing rod. Make sure the sitter cone is placed evenly on top of the cone supports. It’s also important to center the sitter cone on top of the cone supports (unless you’re intentionally aiming for an abbreviated or a prolonged fire). 
  4. Once the sensing rod is situated on top of the sitter cone, set the timer of the kiln 30 to 60 minutes passed the projected time it will take your sitter cone to fully melt. This is to ensure redundancy in case there is an error with the kiln sitter. 
  5. Power on the kiln and press the plunger to initiate the timer. You’re ready to go! At this point, the kiln sitter should make sure the kiln powers off at the proper time – but the timer switch is there as backup just in case.

Limitations of a Kiln Sitter

When it was first introduced, the kiln sitter was a major advancement in kiln control technology. However, that was over 70 years ago, and there have been major advancements in kiln controller technology since then. While a kiln sitter is adequate for simple firings, such as those for pottery and ceramics, it is not nearly as precise, versatile, or handsfree as the most advanced digital kiln controllers.

Limitations of kiln sitters include:

  • Incapable of complex kiln firings with precise ramp rates and multiple setpoints, such as those needed for glasswork.
  • Leaves room for user error – for instance, improperly positioning the sitter cone and cause the firing to go on for too long or not long enough.
  • Doesn’t provide extensive diagnostic insight into failed firings.
  • Requires the kiln operator to manually check the status of their kiln.

Automatic kiln controllers, on the other hand, perform all the functions of a kiln sitter but with a greater degree of accuracy, control, insight, and less need for direct oversight or manual intervention.

How Hard Is It to Upgrade Your Kiln Sitter to an Automatic Controller?

The good news is that you can upgrade your kiln sitter-controlled kiln to automatic controls without having to replace your kiln or make significant modifications. Standalone kiln controllers make it easy to upgrade your kiln sitter – check out our step-by-step guide for DIY standalone kiln controller installation

Choose the Most Advanced, User-Friendly Automatic Kiln Controllers

If you’re tired of the limitations of a kiln sitter, the TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use automatic kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Controller Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of automatic kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP-Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

CTA linking to shop pages for standalone kiln controllers by SDS Industries.