Image courtesy: PROTIQ, software used: CENOS Platform
3D printing, also known as “additive manufacturing”, is a hot topic now as it broadens possibilities for on-demand and customized products, even with complex geometries. It eliminates the need for welding, soldering, bending and similar steps in coil design as 3D printers build the object in one piece and in the exact shape as drawn in CAD.
Currently, additive manufacturing is widely used for steel parts and for a long time printing machines were not able to print pure copper items. But now the technology has developed and since the second half of 2019, it's possible to print-on-demand 100% pure copper coils. Some companies with notable success offering this innovation are PROTIQ and GH Induction.
Main benefits simulations enable together with 3D printing:
freedom of design,
more homogeneous heating,
lower lead time,
less material wastage,
"PROTIQ is processing pure copper by selective laser melting and reaches up to 100% of the international annealed copper standard IACS by achieving an electrical conductivity of 58MS/m. At the same time our parts have a density of more than 99.5% and a thermal conductivity of 400 watts per meter-kelvin."
Max Wissing, Development Engineer at PROTIQ (Germany)
3D printed copper comparison:
Image courtesy: PROTIQ's copper element print
Fewer man-hours, faster processes
Coils are a critical part of induction heat treatments as they must be replaced from time to time due to deterioration. This interrupts production and requires several man-hours for recalibration. In comparison to conventional manufacturing, 3D printing induction coils offers great benefits.
First, additive manufacturing provides better reproducibility and higher accuracy compared to the manual bending, which reduces necessary recalibration times. Second, it allows lower cost and faster production of inductors. Finally, using numerical simulation methods, the coils heat pattern is precisely predicted and visualized, helping optimize inductor geometry. This allows making a perfect coil with the first prototype.
Simulation and 3D printing process