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The 'IH Iron'

An iron that never gets hot?

The 'IH Iron'


Prototype of the IH iron. What drove Kyushu Electric Power's Research Laboratory to spend approximately two years developing this iron that never gets hot was a desire to protect children from burns.

The Research Laboratory of the Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc., one of Japan's electric utilities, has come up with a very surprising new invention. It's something the world has never seen before: an iron that never gets hot! It's called the 'IH iron.'

The first iron is said to have been invented in China some 2,000 years ago. It was a charcoal iron. Until the 19th century all irons were charcoal irons. But today, of course, most irons are electric irons. Charcoal or electric, though, all irons have always been hot.

But now, for the first time in history, there's an iron that's not hot!

A look at the secret behind the IH iron

But why doesn't an IH iron get hot? The secret lies in the IH (Induction Heating) technology it employs. The IH mechanism uses a magnetic field—created by applying an electric current to a coil—to generate heat on metal surfaces that come into contact with the IH unit. What this means is that unlike a conventional iron, the IH iron itself stays cool. But a specially designed metal ironing board produces heat in places where the IH iron makes contact, enabling the iron to perform its function.

IH technology has been used in iron-and-steel manufacturing for a long time, and has recently been adopted for use in cooking appliances as well. IH cooking appliances remain cool during the cooking process, even though the metal cooking pots and other metal implements that come into contact with them heat up. Thus people can use them to cook safely with no need for a hot burner.

How IH cooking appliances work

The 'IH Iron'


A magnetic field is produced when an electric current is applied to a coil. The cooking surface is not hot to the touch, but the electric current creates an eddy under the metal cooking utensils that are placed on top of it. This makes the utensils hot.

How the IH iron works

The 'IH Iron'


The IH iron works like an upside down IH cooking appliance, using a coil built into the body of the iron. A metal ironing board created exclusively for the IH iron heats up where the iron contacts it, permitting efficient ironing even though the iron itself remains cool.

Winner of a Kids Design Award for child-friendly design

Plans are now underway to have this innovative IH iron turned into a consumer product by a Japanese manufacturer. When you turn on the power of this new consumer product, within about five seconds the temperature of the special ironing board will shoot up to 150°C. So you can start ironing immediately, without preheating. And when you turn the power off, in less than 10 seconds a cooling fan will drop the temperature in the ironing board to about 60°C.

These remarkable safety features, whose purpose is to protect everyone and especially children from burns, resulted in the IH iron receiving an award in the Research category in the 3rd Kids Design Awards 2009. TV and newspaper reports of this award have helped to arouse great interest in 'the iron that never gets hot.'

The 'IH Iron'


The trial product that is now under consideration is an IH iron with a very novel, eye-catching design.

Specifications and Features (as of February, 2010)

  • The IH iron: 17 cm in diameter, 11.7 cm tall, approx. 1 kg.
  • The special ironing board: 9 cm thick with a 32 x 32 cm square ironing surface, approx. 2.5 kg.
  • The power switch, for safety, will automatically turn off when the iron is moved a certain distance from the special ironing board.
  • Power consumption should average approx. 300 W. This means big energy savings compared to conventional irons, which require about 1,000 W.

(Updated in February 2010)