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Home > Tips and Facts > Foundry Melting Furnaces > Induction Furnaces

Induction Furnaces

The principle of induction melting is that a high voltage electrical source from a primary coil induces a low voltage, high current in the metal, or secondary coil. Induction heating is simply a method of transferring heat energy.

Induction furnaces are ideal for melting and alloying a wide variety of metals with minimum melt losses, however, little refining of the metal is possible. There are two main types of induction furnace: coreless and channel.

Coreless induction furnaces

The heart of the coreless induction furnace is the coil, which consists of a hollow section of heavy duty, high conductivity copper tubing which is wound into a helical coil. Coil shape is contained within a steel shell and magnetic shielding is used to prevent heating of the supporting shell. To protect it from overheating, the coil is water-cooled, the water bing recirculated and cooled in a cooling tower. The shell is supported on trunnions on which the furnace tils to facilitate pouring.

The crucible is formed by ramming a granular refractory between the coil and a hollow internal former which is melted away with the first heat leaving a sintered lining.

The power cubmicle converts the voltage and frequency of main supply, ot that required for electrical melting. Frequencies used in induction melting vary from 50 cycles per second (mains frequency) to 10,000 cycles per second (high frequency). The higher the operating frequency, the greater the maximum amount of power that can be applied to a furnace of given capacity and the lower the amount of turbulence induced.

When the charge material is molten, the interaction of the magnetic field and the electrical currents flowing in the induction coil produce a stirring action within the molten metal. This stirring action forces the molten metal to rise upwards in the centre causing the characteristic meniscus on the surface of the metal. The degree of stirring action is influenced by the power and frequency applied as well as the size and shape of the coil and the density and viscosity of the molten metal. The stirring action within the bath is important as it helps with mixing of alloys and melting of turnings as well as homogenising of temerature throughout the furnace. Excessive stirring can increase gas pick up, lining wear and oxidation of alloys.

The coreless induction furnace has largely replaced the crucible furnace, especially for melting of high melting point alloys. The coreless induction furnace is commonly used to melt all grades of steels and irons as well as many non-ferrous alloys. The furnace is ideal for remelting and alloying because of the high degree of control over temperature and chemistry while the induction current provides good circulation of the melt.

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Channel induction furnaces

The channel induction furnace consists of a refractory lined steel shell which contains the molten metal. Attached to the steel shell and connected by a throat is an induction unit which forms the melting component of the furnace. The induction unit consists of an iron core in the form of a ring around which a primary induction coil is wound. This assembly forms a simple transformer in which the molten metal loops comprises the secondary component. The heat generated within the loop causes the metal to circulate into the main well of the furnace. The circulation of the molten metal effects a useful stirring action in the melt.

Channel induction furnaces are commonly used for melting low melting point alloys and or as a holding and superheating unit for higher melting point alloys such as cast iron. Channel induction furnaces can be used as holders for metal melted off peak in coreless induction induction units thereby reducing total melting costs by avoiding peak demand charges.

Next: Electric Arc Furnaces >>
Previous: << The Cupola Furnace

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Atlas Foundry Company, Inc.
601 N. Henderson Avenue
Marion, IN 46952-3348
Telephone: (765) 662-2525 • Fax: (765) 662-2902
Email: atlas@atlasfdry.com • Sales: Joe@atlasfdry.com

Call Atlas Foundry today at 765-662-2525
Basics of Foundry Melting Furnaces
  1. Introduction
  2. Crucible Furnaces
  3. The Cupola Furnace
  4. Induction Furnaces
  5. Electric Arc Furnaces

Article by Jeff Meredith, foundry consultant with Casting Solutions Pty Ltd.
Reprinted with permission