How Does Induction Heating Work?

Induction heating is a very common form of rapidly heating metal that involves electromagnets, rather than igniters or propellants. A common procedure in the world of metalworking and metallurgy, induction heating is most frequently used in preheating and stress reduction applications, although it can also be expertly applied for induction hardening in in Gastonia, NC.

To understand why induction heating is such an important technique in a metallurgist’s arsenal, it first must be understood on a conceptual level.

Understanding induction heating

Electricity flowing through a conductor emits a magnetic field around the material it’s travelling through. When current is reversed, the magnetic field is reversed as well. In the case of induction heating, electrical flow is constantly being reversed through a conductor, creating a very powerful magnetic field—usually present in the center of a coiled conductor.

When a piece of metal is placed within the magnetic field, it’ll quickly heat up to very high temperatures as a result of localized “Eddy currents.” These currents occur within the metal itself and circulate against the metal’s inherent electrical resistance, generating heat at an extremely rapid rate.

Hysteresis is another contributor to the induction heating process that’s occurring at the same time as Eddy current circulation. Hysteresis is a product of a metal’s resistance to the changing magnetic field it’s being subjected to and also causes the metal to heat up, although this process doesn’t occur as rapidly as is the case with circulating Eddy currents.

Where is induction heating used?

Thanks to the tremendous efficiency and relative safeness of induction heating, it’s commonly found across numerous metalworking industries. Pipefitters and pipeline repair specialists often use induction heating to make repairs and modifications to parts as needed. Tooling experts find this process especially useful when it comes to induction hardening in Gastonia, NC. Even blacksmiths have found induction heating to be essential when it comes to shaping and forming metals to a high degree of accuracy.

Induction heating can be used across applications that have a strong emphasis on safety, efficiency, uniformity, cost-effectiveness and precision.

Why does it work so well?

The first and foremost reason why induction heating is so effective is because of the constant uniformity it offers. When induction coils are magnetized, the fields they produce can be controlled to a tremendous degree, making temperature control extremely precise. This is ideal for metalworking in situations that have exact degrees of workability.

Ease of use also plays a big role in both safety and efficiency. Once an induction heating system is set up it can be controlled with a flip of the switch, lessening the risk of injury as compared to more traditional forms of heat treatment. It’s efficient because there’s no need to employ propellants or igniters, meaning the general function of an induction heating system can be controlled with minimal interaction.

Finally, induction heating is simply reliable. Once familiar with an induction heating system, a metallurgist or heat treatment professional can have peace of mind in knowing their system will work well, perform to intended expectations and produce quantifiable results each and every time.

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