Wind Power’s Magnetic Attraction

Renewable energy is sweeping the field of power generation all over the world. Here in the U.S., Austin Energy, a Texas utility has instituted a GreenChoice program with the goal of achieving 35% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Already, they have nearly reached that goal thanks to contracts with Texas wind farms.

In addition, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) recently found that by the end of this year, wind turbines worldwide will provide 300 gigawatts of power capacity, led by Europe with more than 100 gigawatts already produced.

As the wind sector continues to grow, this represents a major opportunity for manufacturers in other industries. Coil producers in particular play a fundamental role in this renewable power source. Without magnetic fields and coils, the generators responsible for creating electricity from spinning rotors wouldn’t be possible.

As wind turbine blades spin, they set off a chain reaction that turns the shaft of the generator. As the shaft itself turns, it also turns an attached wire coil. This coil spins between two magnets, one positively charged and the other negatively charged. The spinning action between the magnets creates a voltage difference between the two ends of the wire coil. Resulting electricity from this process then travels through the wire to the main power line. From there, it can be stored in a battery or sent to an electric grid for consumption.

This emission-free power creation makes wind an attractive source of energy. Beyond that, the Department of Energy anticipates up to 180,000 jobs being created by 2030 to accommodate growing demand. Wind is therefore an exciting opportunity not only for consumers, but for manufacturers and distributors of necessary parts.

University of Minnesota Adds the World’s Strongest Imaging Magnet to Research Division

Magnets have long served an integral role in medicine and research. They are commonly used in imaging processes, including the well-known MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The higher the magnetic field, the better researchers can visualize human brain function. For this reason, the University of Minnesota’s Medical School Center for Magnetic Resonance Research has added the world’s strongest imaging magnet to its arsenal.

The massive, 110-ton magnet arrived at the University last month, and took two days to install. For reference of the comparative strength of this medical imaging magnet, a standard MRI machine will produce a magnetic field of 1.5 to 3 Teslas. This one will produce a magnetic field measuring 10.5 Teslas.

Such a strong magnetic field is necessary to get a better picture of a functioning human brain. Currently, there is no other technology around that can accurately detail such an image. The research made possible by this magnet can open the door to better understanding neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, autism, and more. This advanced understanding can in turn lead to better treatment options in the future.

All of this will take time, however. The complex unit isn’t expected to come online until at least July. The months ahead will involve painstaking set-up procedures to ensure that all 720 miles of superconducting wiring is properly hooked up and cooled with liquid helium to 2.5 degrees Kelvin.

We’re excited to see what this magnet has in store for researchers at the University.

Replace or Restore – Can Your Ceramic Dome Be Saved?

As an original manufacturer of HDP SPEED domes, we can understand the appeal of a new ceramic dome. However, just because your HDP SPEED dome isn’t working at peak capacity, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to spring for a new one.

Many times, people don’t realize that their ceramic domes can be restored to like-new condition. Custom Coils provides extensive SPEED dome refurbishing services for weathered domes. The ceramic surfaces are cleaned of deposition using a technique that includes grit blasting to the correct surface roughness specification.

In addition, the vacuum sealed surfaces are re-machined, polished, and vacuum leak tested. With the exception of the ceramic dome itself, all other components are new and built to original specification.

If a customer requests specific modifications, these can usually be accommodated without impacting usability. For example, additional ground lugs (or moving ground lugs) and extending copper tube lengths are the types of modifications that can be provided.

Our main focus is always on the condition of the ceramic structure. Once the surface has been restored to its original specification, it’s essentially a new dome that will operate at optimal efficiency. Often, all a dome needs is a proper cleaning and reassembly to bring it back up to speed.

For more information, feel free to contact us via our online form, or tweet us your thoughts.

Graphene’s Role in the Future of Semiconductors and the Electronic Industry

Everywhere, it seems, research is being done to tap into graphene’s exceptional properties. The material is renowned for its strength, conductivity, and flexibility, making it ideal for numerous applications. One interesting possibility is night-vision contact lenses, but most applications center on traditional electronics like smart devices and radio frequency identification tags (RFID).

The main draw of graphene is that not only is it a durable conductor of electricity, it’s also incredibly thin. Because it is made up of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal pattern, it is perhaps the thinnest material on Earth, and possibly even the universe. This is an attractive quality for electronics manufacturers looking for ways to make products smaller and more flexible for easy transportation and use.

But for all of the promise graphene offers, it’s a challenging material to work with. Because it is such a strong conductor of electricity, it can make the electrons difficult to control. Fortunately, research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is underway to address this issue. So far, the team has found that by layering graphene on a semiconductor substrate, they can better control the flow of energy.

IBM has gone a step further and has made headlines for creating a semiconductor chip with graphene circuits. The technology is still very new and difficult to control, but so far it was able to send a text message with the letters “IBM.” With additional research and development, it’s highly likely we’ll be seeing the foundation for future electronics and wearable devices soon.

What are your predictions for graphene in the semiconductor and electronic industries? Tweet us at @CCoils and let us know!

Custom Coils, Inc. Gets a Fresh New Look

If you’ve visited our website recently, (perhaps to read this blog) you probably noticed a change. We have updated Custom Coils’ online presence to better reflect the services we provide for clients.

As you navigate the new layout, you’ll notice a much more visual product representation to better understand the work we do. Browse through our Photo Gallery to see what we mean. Information is also better organized now, making it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

In addition, prospective customers can view our Projects page to read about specific projects that highlight our capabilities. Whether it’s contributing to a magnetic particle imaging system for stem cell therapy or refurbishing a HDP Speed Dome for semiconductor manufacturing, we have experience fulfilling the magnetic needs of our diverse client-base.

Another benefit of the new site is the incorporation of social media. The links to all of our social channels are now prominently featured on all pages of our site. Visitors can not only follow our profiles more easily, but they can also share content directly from the page. If you see something you like, feel free to “Like” it on Facebook, too.

Please take a minute to check out the new website and let us know what you think. We welcome your thoughts on Twitter.

Celebrating and Contributing to American Manufacturing

With the holidays approaching now is the perfect time to reflect on our successes and things we’re thankful for this year. Here at Custom Coils, Inc., we’ve launched an updated web presence to better position ourselves as a premier manufacturer of custom coils and assemblies. We’ve also been fortunate in our business this year, with a constant supply of new work orders and opportunities coming through the door.

And we’re not the only American manufacturer that’s been doing well lately. As more and more manufacturing is returning to our borders from overseas, we’re seeing many small businesses picking up steam. To celebrate this resurgence and encourage future American manufacturing growth, the American Made Matters organization has instituted the first annual American Made Matters Day on November 19th.

Though we’re committed to supporting American manufacturers year round, Custom Coils supports the idea of having a day set aside specifically to celebrate the “Made in America” movement taking hold across the country. Our own business supports numerous domestic industries, including alternative energy generation, semiconductor equipment processing, medical devices and imaging technology, and much more. We can build custom specified products for clients, or we can help find value in prior made investments through refurbishment. In particular, we do a lot of work that involves refurbishing HDP SPEED domes for the semiconductor equipment processing industry. We bring these ceramic dome assemblies back to near-mint condition.

By continuing to work with and support American manufacturers, we have the ability to continue to strengthen the U.S. economy. And the stronger we make the economy, the better for manufacturing as a whole. It all comes full circle, and we’re proud to be a part of the “Made in America” loop.

A Look Into the Growing Popularity of Electric Vehicles

With the German government committed to getting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020, the growing popularity and need for electric vehicles can’t be ignored. The cars include hybrid vehicles that combine a rechargeable battery with a combustion engine, making them a flexible option for those unsure of their access to charging stations.

To assuage some of the charging station concerns experienced by potential customers, numerous companies and municipalities are coming up with new and easier methods for charging electric vehicles. For example, New York City plans to roll out faux manhole covers that really serve as wireless charging stations. The system will use a smartphone app so that customers can “dock” their vehicles and begin charging the battery.

The manhole cover concept will use electromagnetic resonance charging, which uses coils in both the station and the vehicle to transmit electricity. These concept stations won’t be available for public use just yet, but there are plans to use them for commercial vehicle applications.

And in the UK, people who want to lessen their carbon footprint but are hesitant to invest in an electric car now have a new option – car sharing. The E-Car Club will use a pay-per-use membership to get more drivers behind the wheel of an electric car in an affordable, accessible way. The cars will be available for both commercial and public use. Two pilot programs have already had successful launches, and there are plans underway to bring this opportunity to people and companies across the UK.

As the electric vehicle surge continues to gain support and infrastructure development, it will be interesting to see what new innovations are in store for this sector.

Separating Yourself from the Ordinary

Unveiling technical requirements is a key component of our job here at Custom Coils. Not every customer comes to us understanding how best to achieve their output needs; that’s why we’re here. If history has taught us anything, it is that many great ideas start with a simple drawing on the back of a napkin. To be successful, to be a leader in your field, you need to be prepared to help clients turn their “A-ha!” moments into finished products.

Recently, a semiconductor processing equipment customer came to us in need of an electromagnet for the ionization of plasma on a tool used in the dielectric etching process (don’t worry they didn’t try to fit that all on a napkin!). Even with the details of the power supply and desired output in hand, the customer still needed guidance in managing the competing variables involved to maximize the coil’s design (see model rendering of the part).

We began by gathering all of our resources and sitting down with the client for a series of meetings to map out an overall strategy based on the project’s critical parameters. Beginning with the mechanical footprint and power requirements, we were able to work backward to determine the potential trade-offs, particularly in terms of spatial and thermal limits, select materials, and begin testing.

Simply put, coil designs most often require design trade-offs and decisions based on achieving the best operating requirements for the coil.While a cooling component can help manage the heat, you’re then pushed back to dealing with the issue of space. With decades of experience solving these very problems, we efficiently analyzed all these potential drawbacks and possibilities, while streamlining the design process for the customer. We were able to test parts and weed out problems before committing to a prototype, saving time and money.

New Blog! Custom Coils’ Electro-Magnetic Products

Welcome to the new Custom Coils blog! We’ll use this space to deliver timely information about our industry and those of the customers we serve. Among our past and current designs and products, we’ve been proud to play an essential role in clean energy projects, such as wind power generation and battery production for electric cars.

At Custom Coils, we manufacture specialty coils, coil assemblies, solenoids, and a variety of electro-magnetic and inductive devices. Our customers tell us that the most valuable services we offer are our sophisticated and creative design solutions for components that may have never before existed. Engineers approach us with conceptual designs, seeking our expertise and experience for the specifics in order to fully realize their visions. For example, we often define the bill of materials of the magnet, determine the necessary resistance, and successfully analyze how factors, such as the inputs a magnet receives, will interact with its electric aspect to define the magnet’s mechanical footprint. We have developed accommodations for the need to operate in high, low, or variable temperatures.  In addition, we have over 20 years of experience with a variety of manufacturing processes that allow us to design uniquely-shaped magnets, of multiple dimensions, shapes, and sizes.

Does your design call for a magnet to face vertically in a corner?  We have a process for that. Does your design call for a high power magnet but have limited space available? We can show you examples of specialty magnets, designed for extreme, unusual, and challenging spaces. Recently, Custom Coils has been undergoing some exciting changes, like moving to a new, larger facility in Benicia, CA to accommodate increasing demand. After starting out over 30 years ago with a single product, we have expanded to serving customers’ multiple needs across a wide variety of industries. Contact us to discuss your product needs and together we’ll design the most effective component.

5 Common Causes of HDP Speed Dome Deterioration and Refurbishing Services

In addition to our design and manufacture of specialty coils and devices, Custom Coils offers extensive secondary services, including repair and refurbishment. Recently, we posted some great before and after shots on our Facebook page of a refurbished dome assembly, so we thought we’d provide a bit more background on this service and why you should consider refurbishing rather than replacing those deteriorated parts sitting on your shelf.

Currently, we manufacture SPEED domes of over 15 variations/part numbers, and we’ve been in the business since the release of the first C2 SPEED model from Novellus Systems in the early 1990s. As the original manufacturer, our refined techniques and expertise have resulted in a process that restores dome assemblies to near-new condition. Given the required PM schedule, there is often a need for upgrades, repairs, or complete refurbishing for C2 and C3 HDP SPEED dome assemblies. Further, with commons causes of assembly breakdown, like the 5 below, refurbishment will often be the most cost-effective option.

  1. Product Maintenance (PM) Cycles: Deposition buildup on the ceramic surfaces and component breakdown through handling and extensive use.
  2. Electrical Arcing: Electrical contact of the RF Coil causes damage to all materials at point of contact.
  3. Corroded Water Lines / Work Hardened Water: Both can result in kinks and leaks.
  4. Aging of Sylgard: The grey potting compound can lose its thermal distribution property over time and result in hot spots.
  5. Ground tabs: Ground tabs/lugs fall off the RF coil.

If you see a dome that has experienced any of these issues, your inclination might be to replace. However, with our ceramic treatment, cleaning, and reassembly services, we can resurrect otherwise dead inventory and do so cost-effectively. Contact us today to learn more.