Jul 12, 2017 | By Benedict

GH Induction, a global induction heating company, is using additive manufacturing to create 3D printed copper coils for its induction systems. The so-called “3DPCoils” are made using an Electron Beam Melting (EBM) 3D printer.

GH Induction's copper coils are 3D printed on an EBM 3D printer

You can find examples of induction heating, a process for heating an object via electromagnetic induction, in a number of industries: automotive, aerospace, energy, healthcare, and elsewhere. But not all induction heating systems are created equal. Without an effective coil design, an inductor may not be able to perform as well as another.

That’s why global induction specialist GH Induction is focusing a large amount of its resources on developing the perfect coil. The Spain-headquartered company has even turned to additive manufacturing to help make these devices.

“Traditional coil manufacturing methods entail contraints which companies have had to live with until now,” GH says. “New manufacturing technologies patented by GH Induction offer extraordinary possibilities for process, operation, and production.”

One particular manufacturing technology that is helping GH to develop better induction coils is Electron Beam Melting (EMB), a 3D printing method in which metal powder or wire is welded together with an electron beam, rather than the more commonly used laser beam. GH was able to utilize this 3D printing technology by working with Aidimme, a fellow Spanish company with expertise in additive manufacturing.

According to GH, EBM 3D printing allows the company to fabricate copper coils from a CAD model up to a size of 200 x 200 x 100 mm, with a layer height of 60 microns. These 3D printed coils, which can be created as a single piece without any brazed joints, have a 99.99% copper purity, and are 100% repeatable in terms of their density.

Being able to 3D print pure copper is something that GH says is entirely unique within the industry. And that’s why automotive companies like Renault, Volvo, and Skoda have all flocked to GH to use their 3D printed copper coils.

3D printed copper coils (above) and staff responsible for making them

(Images: Vicent Bosch)

There are other advantages to 3D printing these “3DPCoils” too. GH says that the longer lifespan of these coils—double or even triple that of their predecessors—reduces production stoppages needed for tooling changes, while 3D printing also allows for the creation of new, complex shapes that traditional methods are unable to produce. Shorter changeover times and increased lifespan also result in cost reductions.

At present, GH is able to produce between 16 and 24 of these 3D printed copper coils every week.

Besides using EBM 3D printing for copper coils, GH has also used wax 3D printing methods to create small microfusion inductors from silver or silver alloy. These coils can measure up to 150 x 150 x 150 mm.

With clients like Renault, Volvo, and Skoda on board, it shouldn’t be long before GH’s achievements in 3D printed copper become more widely recognized by the additive manufacturing industry.

To date, companies have tended to 3D print copper either as a (lower purity) powder for SLM 3D printers, or as a copper-PLA mix using standard FDM 3D printers.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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