strantor

how cost effective is an induction forge?

42 posts in this topic

Hello,
I was here a few years ago, with a short-lived hobby of bladesmithing. I have been toying around with electrons since then, and electronics might be bringing me back around to bladesmithing. I have taken an interest in induction heaters, in part from the youtube videos posted by imsoother (who I find is on this forum). I am considering making one, but I want to know how cost effective it is (the forging, not the forge). I was using a coal forge before (still have the forge and the coal) - and I figured there has to be someone on this forum who's used a coal forge and an induction forge and made comparison in dollars for KWH VS. lbs of coal.
looking for perspective, thanks
-charlie

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I can tell you that in my operation, I was using around $300 per month in propane and now using induction exclusively, my electric bill has gone up about $35 to $50 per month.

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Its kind like the difference between a M16 and a spear

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I can tell you that in my operation, I was using around $300 per month in propane and now using induction exclusively, my electric bill has gone up about $35 to $50 per month.

Thanks! That's what I was hoping to hear.

Its kind like the difference between a M16 and a spear

I'm a little confused by your analogy. What are you comparing to a spear and what are you comparing to a m16?
are you saying that an induction heater is overkill?

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I think his analogy itself was overkill! I think he was just pointing to their relative effectiveness at their intended job.

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No the level of technological sophistication. Running a coal forge in a masterful way requires lots of practice and discipline "spear" though it is a very flexible and simple system. Induction heating requires less skill it is easier to use and in most cases faster "M16" though it is useless with out power.

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I think his analogy itself was overkill! I think he was just pointing to their relative effectiveness at their intended job.

Phaser and a rock?

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don't get me wrong I would give up my induction forge before I gave up my coal forge. But getting the induction forge was a game changer for me.

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No the level of technological sophistication. Running a coal forge in a masterful way requires lots of practice and discipline "spear" though it is a very flexible and simple system. Induction heating requires less skill it is easier to use and in most cases faster "M16" though it is useless with out power.

Oh ok, gotcha. Thanks for the explanation.
Yeah, I'm not tossing out my coal forge any time soon. My kids will have to figure out what to do with it when I die.
IF I build this thing, it would be more for the satisfaction of building it anyways. And then the further satisfaction of using something that I made to make more things. I'm not too worried about monthy cost to run it because I probably wouldn't run it that much. I just like to confirm that what I'm about to do isn't a giant waste of time because in the end its less efficient than the tried & true methods already in place. Like when I made ethanol in my garage; what a waste of time and money.

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Not knowing much about induction forging, I assume their are different types of induction forges. Is there an induction forge that can work off of 220v single phase for home use? I understand there are different power ranges.

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Not knowing much about induction forging, I assume their are different types of induction forges. Is there an induction forge that can work off of 220v single phase for home use? I understand there are different power ranges.
Yep, the most popular machine I supply and the one you see in most of the videos runs on 220 single phase.

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Hey Grant , do you make / sell a 50 kz 240 volts 10 - 20 amps version for us blokes ( & shelias ) downunder ?


Dale Russell

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I'd bet that most modern power supplies are not phased by 50 vs 60 hz... or 220 vs 240 V.

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So, these things can be built? What does that involve?

I'm not sure yet. looks like at least a big expensive variac, industrial transformer, expensive high power switching silicon devices, some tubing, lots of time for trial and error, and I'm assuming lots of money to recoup from the errors.

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I can tell you that in my operation, I was using around $300 per month in propane and now using induction exclusively, my electric bill has gone up about $35 to $50 per month.


So, assuming that your power and propane prices are similar to ours, the running costs on an induction forge are about 1/8 of propane. As a hobbyist, I'm more likely to be using $50-$70 worth of propane (or coal) per month, so I'd expect a savings of $40-$60 each month. On an energy cost basis, that makes for an impossible payoff period for a smaller induction forge. Not that I'm considering one of your forges because they're cost-effective, mind you. For me, it makes the idea of a forge in a dense, urban environment much more attractive. I'm about half way there on my savings!

Even at the rates you're using it, I suspect that the main component of cost efficiencies is not the materials, but the time. Having seen your videos, I know that you set up a system so that you are almost constantly forging, rather than tending the forge during a heating process.

When you say, "most popular" in another post, are you talking about the 15kW, or the next up the range?

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So, assuming that your power and propane prices are similar to ours, the running costs on an induction forge are about 1/8 of propane. As a hobbyist, I'm more likely to be using $50-$70 worth of propane (or coal) per month, so I'd expect a savings of $40-$60 each month. On an energy cost basis, that makes for an impossible payoff period for a smaller induction forge. Not that I'm considering one of your forges because they're cost-effective, mind you. For me, it makes the idea of a forge in a dense, urban environment much more attractive. I'm about half way there on my savings!

Even at the rates you're using it, I suspect that the main component of cost efficiencies is not the materials, but the time. Having seen your videos, I know that you set up a system so that you are almost constantly forging, rather than tending the forge during a heating process.

When you say, "most popular" in another post, are you talking about the 15kW, or the next up the range?
Well, there's efficiency and then there's efficiency. When you can walk into the shop, flip a switch and take a heat, that's efficient! When you can have the "forge" right next to you at the anvil, that's efficient. When you can take a very short heat and make an upset square corner in one or two heats, that's efficient. And upsetting, when you can get a short heat right where you want it, becomes a pleasant reality not just something you read about but can never accomplish.

Yes, the most popular machine, by far, is the 15KW because it's the largest machine that can run on single-phase.

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Well, there's efficiency and then there's efficiency. When you can walk into the shop, flip a switch and take a heat, that's efficient! When you can have the "forge" right next to you at the anvil, that's efficient. When you can take a very short heat and make an upset square corner in one or two heats, that's efficient. And upsetting, when you can get a short heat right where you want it, becomes a pleasant reality not just something you read about but can never accomplish.


My point exactly, sorry if it came across otherwise. I just meant that on a cost-for-energy comparison (the OP's question), it doesn't make sense. But if you can spend your time forging, rather than tending a forge (or setting up, or quenching, or whatever), then the really expensive part of the equation - your labor - really starts to make some sense.

I'm thinking in particular of the discussions on this board regarding Larry and the hammer bits. He needed to maximize his time working, not waiting.

And, of course, for me, it's a completely different direction, but the same reason. It makes no sense for me to save $50/month on fuel, compared to the price of buying an induction setup. However, if I can come into my shop, flip on a switch, and forge for a half hour before dinner, well, that's time I get forging rather than lighting a fire. So it becomes a difference between setting aside a big block of time, and getting to do more and more regularly.

Like I said, I'm half way to my savings goal! I'm hoping to be purchasing middle of next year.

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No, I wasn't arguing with you, just emphasizing it. Saving energy cost is just a benefit not so much a reason.

Absolutely EVERYONE who has bought one is surprised how many things they end up using it for.

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Yes one of the big advantages is you can take a good solid welding heat at the drop of the hat. So if you need to take a quick heat but don't want to take 15 or 20 min for the forge to come up to temp its major time savings. It is also a tool that is more in line with a the modern shop environment it obviates the the concept that forging takes too long. But if I have 100 pieces to do and I am working all day its still the gas forge for me or if I am working one piece of big heavy stock and its a detailed forging I go to the coal forge. If you can swing it its worth it. Also no fumes and no particulate emissions.

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Yes one of the big advantages is you can take a good solid welding heat at the drop of the hat. So if you need to take a quick heat but don't want to take 15 or 20 min for the forge to come up to temp its major time savings. It is also a tool that is more in line with a the modern shop environment it obviates the the concept that forging takes too long. But if I have 100 pieces to do and I am working all day its still the gas forge for me or if I am working one piece of big heavy stock and its a detailed forging I go to the coal forge. If you can swing it its worth it. Also no fumes and no particulate emissions.


I've watched Grant's video of forging tongs on his electric screw press and I think the induction unit would give a propane forge a run for the money on speed. Even though you can load 10 or more pieces in a gas forge, the overall takt time is short because he is taking a hot piece out of the coils as soon as he's finished forging; hot stock waiting to be forged is wasted energy. Regardless, it would be an interesting race...

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My point exactly, sorry if it came across otherwise. I just meant that on a cost-for-energy comparison (the OP's question), it doesn't make sense. But if you can spend your time forging, rather than tending a forge (or setting up, or quenching, or whatever), then the really expensive part of the equation - your labor - really starts to make some sense.

I'm thinking in particular of the discussions on this board regarding Larry and the hammer bits. He needed to maximize his time working, not waiting.

And, of course, for me, it's a completely different direction, but the same reason. It makes no sense for me to save $50/month on fuel, compared to the price of buying an induction setup. However, if I can come into my shop, flip on a switch, and forge for a half hour before dinner, well, that's time I get forging rather than lighting a fire. So it becomes a difference between setting aside a big block of time, and getting to do more and more regularly.

Like I said, I'm half way to my savings goal! I'm hoping to be purchasing middle of next year.


You hit it right there. From my perspective, its all about time. Time is the only thing with real value. Do I care how much $ it takes to run the tig? Nope. How much juice the inductor draws? Nope. Is this huge machine I paid 10K for "gettin' paid"? Don't care. I'm a one man show and want to do it well and need to do it fast. If there's something out there that makes it faster, or "more efficient", lemme know cause I'll pony up the cash and surely won't look back. Said it before but one more time - if I was going through the learning stages and gear acquisition again an induction forge would come before any major squishing tool...power hammer, press, whatever. Having a incendiary heat wherever you want it makes your arm bigger and you get to spend your time forging. Well, until you cant keep up.

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I've watched Grant's video of forging tongs on his electric screw press and I think the induction unit would give a propane forge a run for the money on speed. Even though you can load 10 or more pieces in a gas forge, the overall takt time is short because he is taking a hot piece out of the coils as soon as he's finished forging; hot stock waiting to be forged is wasted energy. Regardless, it would be an interesting race...
Cannot be beat if the machine has enough power to heat the next part fast enough that it's ready when you finish the previous one. And I really hate having 10 parts in the fire when anything interrupts the cycle, like a loose bolt or the phone.

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Cannot be beat if the machine has enough power to heat the next part fast enough that it's ready when you finish the previous one. And I really hate having 10 parts in the fire when anything interrupts the cycle, like a loose bolt or the phone.
I can make slightly better time in the gas forge sometimes I run both wile the forge is heating up I work in the induction then switch to gas or go back and forth. I like a lot of options.

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