Induction Heating vs Other Methods
Pre-weld and post-weld heat treating is critical for many welding operations. Without proper thermal manipulation, welds and heat affected zones can have mechanical properties that are undesirable. Worse yet, inadequate heat treatment can result in cracks and devastating weld failures. While temperature and time are the primary concerns when heat treating a weld, the heating method should also be considered diligently when selecting a process. Induction heating is one of the most popular types of heat treating methods, and rightfully so. The benefits of induction heating are many, and Red-D-Arc has the equipment you need to successfully implement an induction heat treating operation for your projects.
What is Induction Heating?
Induction heating is a heat treating process that, when used properly, can alter the mechanical properties of a weld and its adjacent base metal in a way that meets the demands of the application in which the weld is being used. Induction heating relies on the science of electromagnetism to heat the part. Induction coils are placed around the material being heat treated, and alternating current is fed through them. This alternating current going through the induction coils creates a rapidly alternating magnetic field.
The eddy currents that occur as a result of this heat the material surrounded by the coils. Magnetic materials are even more easily heated by the alternating magnetic fields.
Induction Heating Equipment
Setups for weld induction heat treating can vary somewhat from application to application, but Red-D-Arc has the equipment needed for most common scenarios. Every induction heating system requires a power source. The power source converts electricity from a power grid into an electrical current that can be used to energize another critical piece of equipment in an induction heating setup: the induction coils. Induction coils are typically made out of copper and are not required to be in contact the workpiece. The power source and the induction coils are the two main components of an induction system, although other pieces of equipment such as blankets, ovens and induction heat clamshells can be used to shield the induction coils and aid the heating process.
Why Use Induction Heating Over Other Heating Processes?
Induction heating has many benefits over other processes. Torch heating operations do not have the accuracy of induction heating methods. The flame heats the workpiece in an extremely varied way. Also, a torch heating operation must start with its heating on the outside and let the temperature “soak” its way into the part. Induction heating can use a variety of electrical frequencies to adjust the initial heating position within the depth of the material to some extent. Additionally, the width and length of the heated material can be adjusted precisely with induction heating, unlike torch heating.
Torch heating requires the use of combustible gases, which can be dangerous. Volatile gases can explode and cause injury to workers and destruction of property. These combustible gases also release hazardous fumes that may require respiration or fume removal, especially in confined spaces. On the other hand, induction heating, when used properly, releases no harmful fumes. Since combustible gases are not used during induction heating, there is no risk of explosion.
Another common heat treating process is furnace heating using electrical resistors as heating coils. This process can take a very long time for thick parts, and, similar to torch heat treating, works by heating the exterior surfaces of a base material first and allowing the temperature to soak into the core. Conversely, induction heat treating can be performed rapidly, potentially shaving many minutes off of a resistance furnace operation. The core can be heated much quicker as well with induction heating. Induction coils used with a piece of equipment such as the Miller ProHeat 35 are much more portable than furnace operations as well, allowing for far more practical use in the field.
While there are many advantages to induction heating and induction heat treating, there are some disadvantages. One disadvantage is part geometry. Unless an induction furnace is being used, parts will simpler geometries such as pipe or plate are more readily induction heat treated than ones with more complex geometries simply because the induction coils must be placed around the part.
Another disadvantage is that the initial cost of an induction heating system is typically more expensive than a torch heating system. However, this is where Red-D-Arc has you covered. With our induction heat equipment rentals, you can see firsthand the benefits of induction heating without large capital investment so you can keep on welding!