Custom Magnetics Maker stays ahead of industry design trends with AI
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This article is sponsored by Magnetic Triada company that has propelled electronics to the consumer, commercial and industrial markets with innovative magnetic technology for over 75 years.
When purchasing magnetic components, thousands of ready-made products are available. But what if a customer needs a specific requirement that requires a custom design? Going through multiple iterations of a prototype, with so many options, decisions, and calculations involved, can often make the design process overwhelming and time-consuming.
“I think it’s a bit like a chef,” says Lazaro Rodriguez, engineering manager of Triad Magnetics. “You try to find a standard recipe, but there are all sorts of different ingredients available to make it. You may think that magnetism is just a thread and a core, but there are so many different types. design engineer to choose from the available materials and find the best solution for the customer.It is a kind of art.
Almost anything that uses electricity requires some type of transformer or magnetic inductor, says Bill Dull, president of Triad. This goes for a variety of industries, including medicine, food processing, communications and avionics. “Every application has a different size, performance, environment, and security requirements,” says Dull. “And each manufacturer approaches their project differently to design something that has never been built before with endless possibilities to solve a specific problem. We are continually looking for ways to help our engineers improve their “recipes” and perfect the art of custom design. »
Magnetic Triad specializes in transformers and inductors for the electronics industry, with services ranging from custom design and prototyping to testing. Recently, Triad partnered with Frenetic, a European-based company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize outdated engineering procedures. The goal is to stay ahead of industry design trends by streamlining the initial path to custom design.
Thomas Insights (TI): What are the challenges in the design process for transformers and inductors?
Bill Dull (comic book): We always try to balance cost, manufacturability and efficiency. With snapping, people can’t just use what’s on the store shelf because they need new or modified existing products with materials that meet the application requirements. But there’s no manual telling you what to do, and there’s no standardized hardware. Most of what our engineers know they have learned through on-the-job training and years of experience.
Lazaro Rodriguez (LR): Our senior design engineers have in-depth discussions with customers to better understand their needs. From there, we’ll create a prototype to test our output. This first attempt might not be exactly what they need yet, but now we’ve created a baseline, so it will be easier to make adjustments that will get us closer to the final solution.
Historically, there hasn’t been a simple program or an infinite database where you can just plug in a few numbers and it says, “Here’s the optimal solution.” It still takes a lot of experience-based trial and error to get close to where you need to be before going through an iteration or two to get there perfectly. The efficiency of the design process depends on the distance traveled during this first pass.
TI: How does working with Frenetic help Triad Magnetics stay ahead of industry design trends?
comics: A year ago we started using Frenetic’s magnetic modeling software. Using our design knowledge and expertise, we consider varying customer requirements and insert specific data into the software. It then offers an approximate solution almost instantly.
For example, software can determine how much wire a spool will take and how many turns can fit on that spool, basing a design solution on all of these different factors. The idea is to make engineering more efficient, as it is the most expensive part of magnetic design.
L/R: What Frenetic allows us to do is come up with the design and then iterate on that design faster. Every time someone enters information, Frenetic’s AI platform is able to create more possibilities with different variations of wires, cores, insulation materials, and other parameters. You will get better designs and calculations as you continue to use the software.
comics: Our competitors who don’t use the software have to do these calculations manually, whereas the Frenetic software provides us with all of these factors. Not only can we design faster and more efficiently to customer specifications, but we also have the people and machinery to stay competitive by creating smaller, more efficient units. We are preparing for the future: high power, high frequency applications operating at 500 kilohertz (kHz) or more.
TI: How have Triad’s capabilities adapted to meet the needs of the industry today?
comics: We had a customer who needed an LLC resonant transformer for electric vehicles (EVs). Frenetic software is particularly suitable for high-frequency LLC design, so by using it, we could meet the customer’s needs more effectively.
L/R: We first made a prototype and then a revision of this initial prototype to meet the customer’s requirements for leakage inductance. LLC transformers help create inverter systems that EV charging systems currently use. Normally, these applications require more power than consumer and industrial electronics. The LLC topology allows for greater efficiency at these higher powers.
comics: In high power applications such as battery charging, minimal inefficiency can still result in high power loss because the amount of energy involved is significant. The world is moving towards more powerful batteries, electric vehicles and alternative energy applications. This is where Frenetic focuses its software modeling. Trying to make things smaller and more efficient requires operating at a higher frequency and as devices move in that direction, Triad Magnetics also moves in that direction.
TI: What might customers not know about Triad Magnetics?
comics: Our heritage of off-the-shelf catalog products that operate in the standard 50 to 60 hertz power transformer range is what people know us for. They don’t realize that the majority of our business is custom design work in the field of high frequency magnetism.
In ferrite-based magnetics, there are usually not many turns of wire around the coil. It’s a very laborious process as it involves a few turns of thick wire, some insulation, smaller wire, maybe more insulation, then tape to create spacing for the safety. It takes a lot of skill and it is difficult to automate high frequency magnetism for high power applications.
However, our factory equipment is well suited to this type of winding. Our CNC machines make the process easier, maintain consistent quality and speed up production. We also have ferrite core spacer equipment, and we can put different spaces in it to change the inductance and performance of a part. These machines allow us to standardize certain cores and materials and then make in-house adjustments as needed for different applications.
Image Credit: Triad Magnetics