Electron beam melting
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Electron beam melting (EBM) is a type of additive manufacturing (AM) for metal parts that was developed by Arcam AB in Sweden. It is often classified as a rapid manufacturing method. It is similar to selective laser melting (SLM), the main difference being that EBM uses an electron beam as its power source. EBM technology manufactures parts by melting metal powder layer by layer with an electron beam in a high vacuum. Unlike in the sintering techniques of selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), parts produced by the melting techniques of EBM and SLM are fully dense, void-free, and extremely strong.
This solid freeform fabrication method produces fully dense metal parts directly from metal powder with characteristics of the target material. The EBM machine reads data from a 3D CAD model and lays down successive layers of powdered material. These layers are melted together utilizing a computer controlled electron beam. In this way it builds up the parts. The process takes place under vacuum, which makes it suited to manufacture parts in reactive materials with a high affinity for oxygen, e.g. titanium.
The melted material is from a pure alloy in powder form of the final material to be fabricated (no filler). For that reason the electron beam technology doesn't require additional thermal treatment to obtain the full mechanical properties of the parts. That aspect allows classification of EBM with selective laser melting (SLM) where competing technologies like SLS and DMLS require thermal treatment after fabrication. Compared to SLM and DMLS, EBM has a generally superior build rate because of its higher energy density and scanning method.
Titanium alloys are widely used with this technology which makes it a suitable choice for the medical implant market.
The U.S. implant manufacturer Exactech has also received FDA clearance for an acetabular cup manufactured with the EBM technology.
Aerospace and other highly demanding mechanical applications are also targeted.
- Manufacturing Engineering and Technology Fifth Edition. Serope Kalpakjian.
- Watch and Learn about electron beam melting
- Engineer's Handbook
- Automotive DesignLine
- Arcam process presentation (pdf)