With today’s advances in technology, many smelters are switching to an Induction furnace. Induction furnaces are not as harsh on the environment as tradition smelting methods, and are easier to control and maintain. Instead of flame, an induction furnace uses electricity to heat metal to its melting point. Once it is melted, the magnetic field can stir the metal, ensuring that all alloy additions are completely stirred into the metal.
There are many different sizes of induction furnaces, ranges from big enough for a single kilogram of metal, to big enough to hold a hundred tons of metal. They can melt steel, iron, copper, aluminum, and precious metals. Since it is a clean and contact free heating process, it can be used in a vacuum or inert environment. A vacuum furnace comes in handy for smelting specialty steels and alloys that would oxidize if there were contact to air.
There is one downside to using an Induction heating furnace in a foundry. There isn’t a refining capacity, and charge materials must be free of oxidation products and a known composition. Some alloying ingredients could be lost because of oxidation and must be re added into the mix.
There are many uses for induction heating, and can even be used on some plastics. Plastic injection molding machines is more energy efficient when induction heating is used. Since the heat is applied directly to the barrel, warm up time and energy consumption are decreased.
Induction furnaces run off of AC power that provides low voltage rates, but high frequency and a very high current. The piece you want to heat up is inserted into an air coil that is controlled by the power supply, and a tank capacitor that helps increase the power. Eddy currents are produced in the piece inside. Materials that are magnetic improve the heating process. The easiest materials to heat with induction furnaces have high permeability.
Switching to an induction furnace can make your work place cleaner and is better for the environment. As with anything, there are good and bad qualities, but they are something that should be considered for your business.