Introduction: Induction Heater 12 KW

This is an amazing induction heater and now you can build your own for fun or as a powerful tool. I have put together an extensive tutorial at http://inductionheatertutorial.com with schematics for building a 3 and 12kw unit. You'll be able to instantly melt steel aluminum and copper. You can use this for brazing, melting and forging metals. You can use this for casting, too. The tutorial covers theory, components and assembly of some of critical components. The tutorial is large. I will go over the main steps here to give you an idea of what goes into a project like this and how to design it so you don't blow any mosfets or IGBTs.

If you wish, you can refer to the link above. This Instructable presumes you have a good understanding of electronics and induction heaters. Let's begin.

As an aside, I have put together a very accurate low-cost cryogenic digital thermometer. Watch me put it up against a standard name-brand using liquid nitrogen for the test.

Step 1: Components

The basic components are the inverter, driver, coupling transformer and RLC tank circuit. I'll show you the schematics in a little bit. Let's start with the inverter. This is an electrical device that changes the direction of DC current to AC current. For a high-power unit this must be robust. Above you can see the shielding that is used to protect the mosfet gate drive from any stray EMF. Stray EMF causes noise, which results in high-frequency switching. This leads to overheating and failure of the mosfet.

The high-current traces on the circuit board are underneath. Many layers of copper are used to allow them to carry over 50A of current. You do not want them overheating. Also note the large aluminum water-cooled heat sinks on each side. This is needed to remove the heat generated by the mosfets. I originally used fan-cooling, but to deal with this power I have small pond pumps moving plain water through the aluminum heat sinks. As long as the water is clean there should be no conduction. I also have thin mica pads underneath the mosfets to ensure there is no conduction through the sinks.

Step 2: Inverter Schematic

This is the schematic for the inverter. The circuit is really not that complicated. An inverted and non-inverted driver moves a 15v voltage high and low to set up an alternating signal in a gate-drive transformer (GDT). This transformer isolated the chips from the mofsets. The diode on the mosfet gate acts to limit spikes and the gate-drive resistor minimizes oscillations. Capacitor C1 removes any DC component. Ideally, you want the fastest rise and fall times on the gate, reducing heat. The resistor slows this down, which seems wrong. However, if the signal is not dampened you get overshoot and oscillations, which will destroy the mosfet. If you look up "snubber circuit" you will get more information.

Diodes D3 and D4 help protect the mosfets from reverse currents. C1 and C2 provide non-shorted pathways for the current to flow during the switching process. T2 is a current transformer so the driver, which we will talk about next, can get feedback about the current going to the tank.

Step 3: Driver

Wow. That is one big schematic. Well, you can read about a simple, low-power inverter. If you want the big power you need a competent driver. This driver will lock onto the resonant frequency all by itself. As your metal melts it will stay locked onto the correct frequency without the need for any adjustment.

If you have ever built a simple induction heater with a PLL chip you probably recall tuning the frequency as your metal heats. You would watch the waveform move on the oscilloscope. You would keep changing the clocking frequency to maintain that perfect point. No need to do that anymore.

This circuit uses an Arduino microprocessor (uP) to follow the phase difference between the inverter voltage and the tank capacitor. Using this phase it calculates the the correct frequency using a C algorithm.

I will walk you through the circuit:

The tank capacitor signal comes in on the left to LM6172. This is a high-speed inverter that converts the signal to a nice, clean square-wave. Got to be clean. This signal is then isolated using the optical isolator, FOD3180. These isolators are key! This signal goes to the PLL through the PCAin input. This is compared to the inverter signal on PCBin, which drives the inverter from VCOout. The Arduino finely controls the PLL clock using a 1024-bit pulse-width modulated signal. The two-stage RC filter converts the PWM signal into a simple analog voltage that goes in at VCOin.

How does the Arduino know what to do? Magic? A good guess? No. It gets the phase-difference information about PCA and PCB from PC1out. R10 and R11 limit the voltage within 5 voltage for the Arduino, and the two-stage RC filter cleans the signal from any noise. We want spanking clean signals because we don't want to pay more money for expensive mosfets after they blow up from noisy inputs.

Step 4: Take a Breath

That was a lot of information. You may be asking yourself do you need such a fancy circuit? The answer is "it depends". If you want a self-tuning circuit then the answer is yes. If you want to manually tune the frequency then the answer is no. You can build a very simple driver with just a 555 timer and use an oscilloscope. You can get a little more sophisticated and add a PLL (phase-lock-loop) chip.

Anyway. Let's continue.

Step 5: Tank Circuit

There are a few approaches for this part. If you want a high-power heater you will need to have a capacitor array to handle the current and voltage.

First, you need to determine what operating frequency you will use. Higher frequencies have greater skin effect (less penetration) and are good for smaller objects. Lower frequencies are better for larger objects and have greater penetration. Higher frequencies have greater switching losses, but there is less current going through the tank. I choose a frequency near 70khz and wound up with about 66khz. My capacitor bank is 4.4uf and can handle over 300A. My coil is near 1uH. The capacitors are from Illinois Capacitors. They are pulse film capacitors. They are axial lead, self healing metallized polypropylene, high voltage, high current, and high frequency. Mine are 0.22uf/3000vdc. The model number is 224PPA302KS.

I used two copper bus bars and drilled matching holes on each side. I used plumber's solder and fixed the capacitors to the bars. I then ran copper tubing on each side to carry cold water to the coil.

Do not get cheap capacitors. They will self-destruct and you will pay more money than if you did the right thing the first time. Here is another thought. You can buy a Celem capacitor. Although they are expensive, the cost is not that far off from the cost of building a good capacitor array. Trust me, I've been there already.

I've posted a picture of a Celem capacitor for your viewing pleasure.

Please note that the Celem is water-cooled. Whether you use the Celem or make your own you need to water-cool these units. I use the same pump to cool the capacitor as I use to cool the work-coil.

Step 6: Coupling Transformer

If you have been paying close attention you should be asking how does one drive the RLC tank? I jumped earlier from the invert to the tank without mention how they are connected.

The connection is through the coupling transformer. I got mine from Magnetics, Inc. The part number is ZP48613TC. Adams Magnetics is also a good choice for buying these ferrite toroids.

The one on the left uses 12g wire. This is good if your input current is under 20A. The wire will overheat and burn up if it is more. For the real high power you need to buy or make Litz wire. I made mine by braiding 64 strands of 23g magnet wire. This stuff could withstand 50A current with no problem.

The inverter, which I showed you earlier, takes high-voltage DC and chops it into alternating high/low values. This alternating square-wave goes through this coupling transformer via the mosfet switches and the DC coupling capacitors on the inverter. The copper tubing from the tank capacitor runs through this making it the single-turn secondary of a transformer. This, in turn, allows the stepped-down voltage to flow through the tank capacitor and work coil (the LC tank).

Step 7: Making the Work Coil

One question I've gotten is how do you make such a nicely curved work coil? The answer is sand. The sand will prevent the tubing from collapsing on itself during the bending process.

Take 3/8" copper refrigerator tubing and fill it with clean play sand. Cap one end with some tape before doing this and cap the other after filling with the sand. Plant a study pole of the proper diameter into the ground. Fix a sufficient length of tubing for your connection and slowly bend the tubing around the pole. Once you get one turn around the rest is easy. Continue to wrap the tubing until you get the number of desired turns (4-6 is usually good). Bend the second free end so it is lined up with the first. This will make your connections to the capacitor easy.

Now, remove the caps and take an air compressor to blow out the sand. Did I mention to do this outside?

Please not that the copper tubing also serves the function of carrying water for cooling. This water circulates through the capacitor tank (or Celem) and through the work coil. The work coil generates a lot of heat from the current. Even if you use ceramic insulation on inside of the coil (to trap the heat from escaping) you will still have extremely high temperatures on the workpiece heating the coil. I would start out with a large bucket of ice-water and reduce this to hot water in a short time. Point: have plenty of ice to keep this cool.

Step 8:

Above is an overview of the 3kw unit. It has a simple PLL driver, an inverter, coupling transformer and tank. The video demonstrates the 12kw unit at work. The main difference is that it has a microprocessor controlled driver and larger mosfets and heat sinks. The 3kw unit runs off of 120vac; the 12kw unit uses 240vac.

Again, you can get more theory and instructions at http://inductionheatertutorial.com

Good luck. Be safe. Have fun.

Comments

author
jakeB82 (author)2017-08-01

why do you need a regulator when you could just straight up use a standard 120v 15a line straight to the transformer?

author
CYC8 (author)2017-07-03

thanks for ur share

author
Markllar (author)2017-04-28

Any chance you would provide the Arduino code?

author
vsurducan (author)2017-01-18

Congratulations for your work!

However, looking at your PLL
schematic, all grounds have the same symbol (meaning there are connected
together). In that situation, using two 2A output optocouplers hasn't
too much sense. You've connected pins 3 and 5 to the same ground. In
this configuration the optocoupler does not reject any noise, it's just a
redundant device. Eventually, to keep clean the signal, it has to be separated
ground between PLL and inverter... Do I miss something?

author
cdevans (author)2017-01-06

Trying to build this for my FRC Robotics Team. Including the Levitation posting there are 3 versions for the sensor! The Lev. says hook to probes or Microprocessor, which is what I was looking for. Is this in place of, from tank capacitor or what? As I am a coder, I can muddle through that, but electrical engineering is not my strong suit. Thanks

author
imsmooth (author)cdevans2017-01-06

The sensor gives a reading of the AC current waveform that drives the coupling transformer connected to the RLC tank (the part with the Celem capacitor and work coil). This is not necessary to get the circuit to work: it provides information on the proper function of the system. Knowing this, I attached a diode and smoothing capacitor to a DC ammeter to get a constant analogue reading of the current. This is important, because if the current gets too high I know I will overheat the mosfet switches. For the smaller circuit this was about 20A; for the 10kw units this was about 50-60A for short periods. I used a voltage divider to feed the current value into the uProcessor and wrote a subroutine that constantly monitored the current. If it got too high I detuned the circuit to reduce the current. This is useful if the workpiece falls out of the coil. When this happens the current shoots up without anything to quench the tank. Having this feedback I could quickly reduce the current and protect the mosfets. I was thinking of producing a second generation board that would also get input from a thermocouple connected to the mosfets and would shut the system down if the temperature got too high. I never did it as I sold my project to a blacksmith.

I hope this helps. You can go to my site http://inductionheatetutorial.com for a little more information.

author
cdevans (author)2016-12-31

Really confused? This page shows a current sense transformer connected to nothing, while the tutorial shows a pulse transformer connected to a meter at the same place. What does the sensing transformer do here? So, same question as before. Oh yeah, Happy New Year,Thanks

author
cdevans (author)2016-12-21

Missed that as I'm designing around 2 HB IGBT, and didn't look closely. Was hoping a current sensor might be useful in a self regulating ppl circuit. Thanks

author
cdevans (author)2016-12-19

Been struggling with your driver design. The schematics and photos don't match, ie: a sensing transformer that's nowhere in the schematics? Real schematics of your current design would be really useful to all of us. Thanks

author
imsmooth (author)cdevans2016-12-19

If you look at this schematic from my tutorial website

http://inductionheatertutorial.com/inductionheater...

the sensing transformer is there on the right side.

author
ConnorC24 (author)2016-08-30

if I were to put this around a hose, would it heat up the water?

author
ErwinS15 (author)2016-08-03

HIiii your project very interesting. I have one request please discuss the proper designing of that capacitor and inductor(toroid ) which used in this proect

author
AdamS273 (author)2016-05-05

I'd love to make the 3k version of this for my AP chemistry class and to use for casting, but I can't find where to get the supplies. I've read through your website and you mention the suppliers, but don't really mention the model/size/ capacitors and such and specifications of other parts. I'd love to see a total list of necessary supplies and hardware but I'm having no luck so far. Thank you and I really appreciate it!

author
ÁlvaroO1 (author)2016-02-07

imsmooth (author) transistor2Reply2 years ago

3kw is about $300

12kw is about $1000

author
TheNotoriousHoppington (author)2016-02-06

Could someone throw together a parts/cost list? I need to know the grand total before I commit too much time to this project.

author
DylanE7 (author)2016-01-16

Thanks for posting this, it's detailed enough and in laymans terms so that with my very limited understanding of electronics I can almostttt understand how this induction heater works lol. I'm actually very interested in trying to build a furnace similar to yours to use in a hobby foundry. I'm curious how much steel can be melted in the 12KW version. I'm hoping to be able to melt 3 quarts of steel at a time. Will this design be able to melt that much?

author
RudranandS (author)2015-12-04

Simply ATtiny10 or 13 could also be implemented for generating frequency with fewer external components.

author
imsmooth (author)RudranandS2015-12-04

This will not have the fine resolution compared with writing directly to the clocking center.

author
trinijay (author)2014-07-24

I have been looking for some more information about your driver, it seems strait forward expect the program, sketch you make for your arduino. I found some old forums you've posted on but nothing useful to me. PM me or email me if you don't want to make it public,

I'm looking at yours as an footstep to use for the 30Kva induction driver. I know some modifications are needed but starting with the knowledge of your driver is a great asset

For credibility this is my website, http://skydom.weebly.com/creators--partners.html and I'm making this on behalf of a makerspace i am with.


the sketch for the arduino programming is all I really need

author
Eng_enth (author)trinijay2015-09-28

He is sharing so much because he knows it makes us happy. How do you mean induction driver? You don't really want this for a rail gun there are already lots of guns.

author
ErikGr1 (author)2015-09-24

Looks like a great design.

Maybe I'm missing something, I do not find the software for the Arduino. Is this part of a separate project? Can the functionality be done with hardware?

Thank you.

Erik

author
imsmooth (author)ErikGr12015-09-24

Never published the code. The tutorial explains what is required. One will need some experience with a uP to follow the directions in the web tutorial at inductionheatertutorial.com

author
mbehlau11 (author)2015-09-09

Would you please post a detailed shopping list for the whole project?

author
imsmooth (author)mbehlau112015-09-09

My tutorial website has much more instructions and explanations.

author
chiranth (author)2015-08-11

i've always had this one confusion... making the current flow through a loop of wire is like shorting right? why doesn the circuit blow up?

author
Johnny243 (author)chiranth2015-08-19

It is true what you say, a loop of wire is like a short, but once a piece of wire is formed into a coil, it gains the ability to store energy. What we have now is an inductor. An inductor is capable of storing energy in a magnetic field who's direction can be calculated using the right hand rule. Further, an inductor contains a type of 'resistance' called impedance. It is also measured in Ohm's, but there are some complex components involved making it hard to explain without relatively advanced calculus. This resistance would make the inductor a 'load' and therefore it has the ability to dissipate energy, mainly through heat. This keeps the circuit from 'blowing up' as you put it.

author
BenderSanchez (author)2015-06-22

Noah nice :D

author
engineerings (author)2015-05-09

HELLO .. I LIKE IT VERY MUCH AND NEED SOME HELP WITH Coupling transformer CONNECTION
PLEASE TELL ME WHERE CAN I FIX THE 2 WIRE FOR Coupling transformer ?

author
engineerings (author)2015-05-09

author
rswain3 (author)2015-05-07

Any way I could get a parts list? I would love to make one of the 3k ones

author
mrandle (author)2015-03-10

These are amazing! I just saw a video about a levitation induction furnace and was blown away. You just reverse the coil halfway apparantly and the metal floats untill you turn it off.

author
overbusy (author)2015-03-08

Hello I found your project very interesting. I have some question: are capacitors of 0.22 uF really necessary ? Could be all avoided ? Is the series capacitor in the work coil circuit really necessary it should manage a huge amount of current. Last question is : could a H bridge bring advantages too this inverter or has not any meaning ?
Thanks.

author
imsmooth (author)overbusy2015-03-09

The h-bridge adds more mosfets and cost without any great benefit.

If you go to my website you'll see why the 0.22uf caps are needed.

Go to inductionheatertutorial.com

author
overbusy (author)imsmooth2015-03-09

You are right, but often mosfets can cost less than good quality snubbers/capacitors. Anyway it was only an idea.

...Ok, I understand that 0.22 caps are needed for a sine wave "production"; but is the cap on the secondary (in series with the work coil) really needed ?

Thanks.

author
sina majidi (author)2014-11-05

hi

thanks for your article

the schematic picture isn't clear

i can't find details on the schematic

please send me your schematic,it's very emergency :D

at last i wish secsusfully for you

mail:sin.majidi@Gmail.com

author
bpark1000 (author)2014-05-19

How do you prevent the cooling water electrolyzing and corroding the tubing? When I built a 4KW heater, I ran the water through the secondary of the transformer (one turn sheet brass 4" wide 3" diameter), then through the work coil. So there was no voltage applied to the water, other then a small resistive component.

author
imsmooth (author)bpark10002014-05-19

There are no dissimilar metals
Only copper

The aluminum heat sink has its own cooling system

author
bpark1000 (author)imsmooth2014-05-21

My question is not about 1 or 2 volt galvanic potentials, it is about applying many volts to the water (copper sections of the cooling system are at different potentials, and have the same water flowing through them, correct?)

If you feed water through the work coil (in one side, out the other side, returning to the same reservoir), the voltage on the secondary of the output transformer is applied to the water (unless you do as I did and run the water also through the transformer secondary).

High-power lasers had this and the water was carefully deionized, but it corrodes anyway.

author
WillowFox (author)2014-05-20

With my nonexistent knowledge of electricity theories and all, I can finally do my induction heather for forging, really tired of the fossil fuels. We all like the old touch of a steel rod getting heathed on a furnace, but this is way more practical, space saving, kinda enviromentally friendly, only using home voltages. Thanks for the tutorial man.

author
pollux64 (author)2014-05-19

Wow, this is some heavy electronics. I'll put it in the todo list since I have other business now, but my compliments on your design. Nice to see so many DIY initiatives.

author
Nevala (author)2014-05-19

Very cool instructable, but please be careful dropping the molten metal out on your concrete floor. Any water content in the concrete can rapidly (read: explosively) turn to steam and fail catastrophically.
I would recommend getting some inexpensive firebrick for collecting the metal ejection.

author
KROKKENOSTER (author)2014-05-19

Wow this give a person the insight on how the inverter welding machines work! They are light and give excellent resuls

author
KROKKENOSTER (author)2014-05-19

Wow this give a person the insight on how the inverter welding machines work! They are light and give excellent resuls

author
Jackn7 (author)2014-05-18

I'm guessing by the look of it that the Working Coil is water cooled too, is there anything that needs to be taken into consideration between a dry coil and one filled with water as far as design.

Do you have to use distilled water or anything?

author
imsmooth (author)Jackn72014-05-18

I just addressed this in the instructable. I just use plain tap water. Make sure it is clean, meaning does not have a high mineral content which could make it conductive. I one pump to run water through the mosfets. Each mosfet has a mica pad isolating it from the cooling sink. I use another pump to run water through the capacitor and work coil. This is a large multi-gallon bucket of ice water. You can run this water through a radiator if you wish to disperse the large amount of heat the work coil generates.

author
Jackn7 (author)imsmooth2014-05-18

Thanks for taking the time to answer. :)

Yeah I was thinking about possible conductivity issues, or changes in inductance, that sort of thing.

Separate cooling for the Mosfets and the working coil makes sense too.

Cheers!

author
transistor2 (author)2014-05-16

how much does this cost to make

author
imsmooth (author)transistor22014-05-16

3kw is about $300

12kw is about $1000

author
fzumrk (author)2014-05-16

That thing is scary! Awesome job.

author
hzxasdf (author)2014-05-15

制作步骤再详细一些

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