An inductotherm melting furnace is one of the most important tools used in the precision casting business for induction melting. It is frequently used in the automotive industry, which uses about 13% of the world’s steel. Another 50% of the world’s steel is used in updating and improving infrastructure and in buildings. About 16% of the world’s steel will be used in manufacturing or robotics for designing precise mechanical equipment. All of that steel needs to be made and crafted, and today much of this is done in an inductotherm melting furnace.
What is Induction?
Induction is a way of heating. In induction heating, an electrical current is passed through a coil, creating a magnetic field around the coil. The magnetic field will have certain properties depending on how the coil is designed and how much current is flowing through it. Changing the direction of the current’s flow can change the direction of the magnetic field around it, and rapidly changing the direction of the current will cause the magnetic field to change rapidly as well. A 60 Hz AC current, for example, will cause a magnetic field to changes direction 60 times in every second.
As the current flows and as the magnetic field moves back and forth, electrons in the coil will resist this movement. The resistance of electrons expresses itself as heat, and the more resistant to electricity the material used to make up the coil is, the more heat it will give off as the current flows through it.
How Does This Work in An Inductotherm Melting Furnace?
The heat created by the current and the coil and its magnetic field can be used in an induction furnace for melting materials in order to shape them. Of course, heat can also be generated by gas furnaces or electric furnaces, among other types, but these differ from induction furnaces in several important ways. Other methods of heating transfer heat from the heat source through convection and radiation to the surface of the product that is to be heated. The surface heats first, and then the heat transfers from the surface to the inside of the product via thermal conduction.
An inductotherm melting furnace is different because it does not use convection to deliver heat. Heat generates on the surface of the product being heated by current flow and is transferred into the material by thermal conduction. The depth of that thermal conduction can be adjusted by adjusting the frequency of the alternating current. Higher frequencies result in shallower heat depth, while lower frequencies result in deeper heat penetration.
Can This Method Really Melt Steel?
One of the great benefits of induction melting is that the proper sort of
inductotherm melting furnace can be adjusted to melt nearly any kind of metal. All it takes is an adjustment of frequency in order to create greater or lower temperatures so that iron, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and silicon, among other items, can be easily melted. The induction furnace also has the advantage of allowing inductive stirring. As the melting metal becomes charged by the electromagnetic field, that field also causes the material to move. This constant motion allows the material to homogenize properly and means there is no need for separate stirring function.
The inductotherm melting furnace has not been around as long as other types of forging furnaces, but it has great potential for future work in industry and manufacturing. It provides safe alternative energy and a precise method of heating that makes it more efficient to work with materials of all sorts. Induction heating is doubtless the manufacturing method of the future.