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Striation effect in induction heating: myths and reality

Valentin Nemkov (Fluxtrol, Inc., Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA)
Robert Goldstein (Fluxtrol, Inc., Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA)



Effect of unstable “wavy” temperature distribution on the part surface during the process of induction heating of ferromagnetic materials was observed and reported by two Russian scientists in 1940 (Babat and Lozinskii, 1940). They reported that under certain conditions, one can observe periodical or quasi-periodical bright stripes on the part surface when its temperature passes through the Curie point. In time, these stripes expand and merge, forming a normal temperature pattern. They called this phenomenon “polosatiy nagrev” (striation heating). Let us call it the “zebra effect” for simplicity. It can exist for a relatively long time, from several seconds to several tens of seconds. Several explanations of the zebra effect were proposed with not very convincing arguments. The purpose of this study is to improve the understanding of this effect.


Wider spreading of induction technology and use of computer simulation of induction processes create a demand and open new possibilities for study of the zebra effect. This study provides an overview of the available information about the zebra effect and gives new explanation of this phenomenon based on existing experimental data and new results of simulation. Conditions for zebra occurrence and its technological importance or limitations are discussed.


Computer simulation using the Flux 2D program allows to demonstrate the striation (zebra) effect that can appear in the process of heating magnetic materials and reproduce main experimental findings related to this effect. Simulation provides a great opportunity to investigate the zebra phenomenon in virtual reality, providing qualitatively correct results. Results of simulation show that the zebra effect can appear in a relatively narrow range of material properties and operating conditions. The main factor is a big enough gradient of permeability near the Curie point. At present, it is difficult to expect high quantitative accuracy of simulation due to multiple assumptions in simulation algorithms and insufficient or inaccurate information about the material properties near the Curie point.


Several explanations of the zebra effect were proposed with not very convincing arguments. There were concerns that the zebra effect could set significant limits on the use of induction heating for surface hardening due to non-uniform temperature distribution along the part (Babat and Lozinskii, 1940; Babat, 1965; Lozinskii, 1949, 1969). However, it did not happen. There were no complaints from scientists or practitioners regarding any negative effect of the zebra phenomenon. Moreover, the authors of this paper did not find any original publications on this issue for more than half a century. Only few old induction experts confirm that they observed the zebra effect or something similar, whereas a great majority of induction community members never heard about it.



Nemkov, V. and Goldstein, R. (2017), "Striation effect in induction heating: myths and reality", COMPEL - The international journal for computation and mathematics in electrical and electronic engineering, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 504-517.



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