Induction welding is a form of welding that uses electromagnetic induction to heat the workpiece. The welding apparatus contains an induction coil that is energised with a radio-frequency electric current. This generates a high-frequency electromagnetic field that acts on either an electrically conductive or aferromagnetic workpiece. In an electrically conductive workpiece, the main heating effect is resistive heating, which is due to induced currents called eddy currents. In a ferromagnetic workpiece, the heating is caused mainly by hysteresis, as the electromagnetic field repeatedly distorts the magnetic domains of the ferromagnetic material. In practice, most materials undergo a combination of these two effects.
Nonmagnetic materials and electrical insulators such as plastics can be induction-welded by implanting them with metallic or ferromagnetic compounds, calledsusceptors, that absorb the electromagnetic energy from the induction coil, become hot, and lose their heat to the surrounding material by thermal conduction. Plastic can also be induction welded by embedding the plastic with electrically conductive fibers like metals or carbon fiber. Induced eddy currents resistively heat the embedded fibers which lose their heat to the surrounding plastic by conduction. Induction welding of carbon fiber reinforced plastics is commonly used in the aerospace industry.
Induction welding is used for long production runs and is a highly automated process, usually used for welding the seams of pipes. It can be a very fast process, as a lot of power can be transferred to a localised area, so the faying surfaces melt very quickly and can be pressed together to form a continuous rolling weld.
The depth that the currents, and therefore heating, penetrates from the surface is inversely proportional to the square root of the frequency. The temperature of the metals being welded and their composition will also affect the penetration depth. This process is very similar to resistance welding, except that in the case of resistance welding the current is delivered using contacts to the workpiece instead of using induction.