A Novel Induction Heater for Sintering Metal Compacts with a Hybrid Material Extrusion Device
The traditional sintering of metallic components shaped via Material Extrusion Additive Manufacturing (MEAM) is a time-consuming process that involves sophisticated energy-intensive heating systems. This work describes a novel induction heater capable of efficiently tailoring temperature profiles to densify MEAM powder compacts. In situ sintering within the same device is achieved indirectly by heating a graphite crucible, whereby the heater is based on an inverter with a half-bridge topology using the Zero-Voltage Switching (ZVS) technique. The system comprises a bank of capacitors that, in conjunction with a work coil, form a parallel-topology resonant circuit. This design allows the inverter to be used as a current amplifier, thereby increasing its efficiency to deliver an output power of up to 5 kW. The device operates at a 62.86 kHz resonant frequency, achieving a 2.01 mm penetration depth and a 1365.7 °C crucible temperature with only 1.313 kW of consumption, providing an increase in efficiency compared to other low-cost systems. Equipped with a feedback circuit, it offers five distinct control techniques that enable the self-tuning of the crucible temperature. The results indicate that the Cohen–Coon tuning method is more robust compared to the Ziegler–Nichols, damped, no overshoot, and mixed techniques. Sintering with this novel induction heater provides an alternative method for reducing the processing times for MEAM geometries, paving the way for increased efficiency and reduced energy consumption. Circuit diagrams, simulations, and experimental data on the temperature, time, and output voltage are provided in this article.
Published in: Electronics, 10.3390/electronics12143033, MDPI