New developments in the field of thermal electron beam technologies
High-energy electron beam (EB) is advantageously useable for thermal processes of metallic materials, such as surface treatment (hardening, annealing, remelting, alloying, cladding), ablating (engraving, profiling, perforation), joining (welding, brazing, weld-brazing) or additive manufacturing (powder-based, wire-based). In particular, EB welding, EB hardening, EB annealing, EB remelting are used in a wide variety of applications in the automotive industry, aerospace, mechanical engineering and medical technology. EB perforation is a long established special application for the production of fine-mesh sieves, e.g. in the chemical and food industry. Further concrete applications are about to be transferred into industrial practice.
In the last few years, the additive manufacturing a great attention is paid. Compared to other processes (Laser, TIG), the electron beam technologies are characterized above all by its faster build-up rates and the processing of high-melting metals.
Current research activities are directed towards generation new technical-technological solutions using the special advantages of the electron beam, such as surface-independent energy input, flexible beam guidance, high beam and overall efficiency (energy efficiency) and vacuum (inert process atmosphere).
Current industrial R&D trends, such as E-mobility, resource saving, lightweight construction, automation, quality control and documentation and permanently new and more complex demands with regard to new materials and/or increased load behavior are the driving forces behind these activities.
Furthermore, new solutions for flexible and/or geometry adapted beam deflection techniques, enhanced EB process control, and raised productivity are urgently required.
For many of the above mentioned technologies such as liquid phase surface treatments, combined surface treatments, brazing or profiling, a broad basic knowledge is available and will extended by further investigations. Currently the transfer of know how from research to industrial applications operate is being promoted.
The contribution demonstrates exemplarily the state of the art in R&D and industrial application for selected thermal EB technologies.