What is Electron Beam Welding?
Electron beam welding (EBW) is an autogenous (no filler required) process that uses high velocity electrons to quickly melt and join metals with minimal heat input and very little distortion.
Electrons are generated by heating a filament in a high vacuum environment, and the resulting beam of electrons is accelerated, positioned and shaped by various electron optics devices as it travels to the weld joint. The kinetic energy of the electrons is converted to heat as they strike the weld joint. The electron optics allow focusing of the weld energy into a very small area, resulting in extremely high energy densities. An EBW analogy, most can identify with, is the Laser Welding System that controls the power and intensity of a focused stream of light... EBW precisely controls and focuses a dense stream of electrons.
By controlling key parameters using computer or manual controls, the same electron beam welding system can be utilized to perform many different industrial and R&D material joining applications. Many of these applications could not have been accomplished by other fusion systems.
Key controlled parameters include:
The electron beam must be generated in hard vacuum. The work piece can be in hard vacuum, partial vacuum, or at atmospheric pressure, based on the application's metallurgical and throughput requirements. The highest depth-to-width ratios and the longest distances between the beam generator and the weld joint are achieved with the work piece in a hard vacuum environment.
- Speed of the electrons (ACCELERATING VOLTAGE)
- Number of electrons in the beam (BEAM CURRENT)
- Energy density at the joint (FOCUS)
- Speed of work piece motion (TIME)
Advantages of EB Welding
- Welds parts with virtually no distortion
- Capable of full penetration welds in a single pass of up to two inches or more
- Welds with zero contamination since the part being welded is in vacuum
- Typically the weld puddle is one twenty fifth the volume of a TIG weld profile
- Weld fusion zone is much narrower than any other fusion process available
- A single machine can weld thin to thin, thick to thick and thin to thick material combinations
- Can weld similar and dissimilar materials. Dissimilar metals must be able to alloy together in their molten state
- Process capable of continuous operation with minimal operator interface in many applications
- Beam parameters very precisely controllable and repeatable to provide high process consistency
- Many EB welded parts may be used as welded with no post-weld processing
Industries Using EBW:
- Jet engines and accessories
- Missile cases
- Space suit backpack components
- Rocket motors and controllers
- Actuators, hydraulic cylinders, gear trains and controls
- Various components of electronic modules
- Fuel cells
- Assorted cases
- Transmission planetary gear carriers
- Torque converters
- Torque lock-up rings
- Catalytic converters
- Ball joints
- Select frame members
- Starter ring gears
- Cast intake manifolds
- Bi-metal saw blades
- Hydraulic components and controls
- Thermostatic bimetallic strip
- Various linkages and gear assemblies
- An array of medical components
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