A method for curing polymers (11) incorporating a variable frequency microwave furnace system (10) designed to allow modulation of the frequency of the microwaves introduced into a furnace cavity (34). By varying the frequency of the microwave signal, non-uniformities within the cavity (34) are minimized, thereby achieving a more uniform cure throughout the workpiece (36). A directional coupler (24) is provided for detecting the direction of a signal and further directing the signal depending on the detected direction. A first power meter (30) is provided for measuring the power delivered to the microwave furnace (32). A second power meter (26) detects the magnitude of reflected power. The furnace cavity (34) may be adapted to be used to cure materials defining a continuous sheet or which require compressive forces during curing.
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-84OR21400 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Inc. and the Government has certain rights in this invention.