Electron Beam Welding- Advantages ,Disadvantages and Application

Introduction to E Beam Welding :

Electron Beam Welding (EBW) is a fusion welding in which coalescence is produced by heating the workpiece due to impingement of the concentrated electron beam of high kinetic energy on the workpiece. As the electron beam impinges the workpiece, kinetic energy of the electron beams converts into thermal energy resulting in melting and even evaporation of the work material.

See Also: Laser Beam Welding Process – Principle, Advantages , Disadvantages

Principles of Electron beam (eb) Welding :
In general, electron beam welding process is carried out in vacuum. In this process, electrons are emitted from the heated filament called electrode. These electrons are accelerated by applying high potential difference (30 kV to 175 kV) between cathode and anode. The higher the potential difference, the higher would be the acceleration of the electrons. The electrons get the speed in the range of 50,000 to 200,000 km/s. The electron beam is focused by means of electromagnetic lenses. When this high kinetic energy electron beam strikes on the workpiece, high heat is generated on the work piece resulting in melting of the work material. Molten metal fills into the gap between parts to be joined and subsequently it gets solidified and forms the weld joint

Electron Beam Welding Diagram : 

Electron beam (eb) welding Diagram
Electron beam (eb) welding Diagram

EBW Equipment:
An EBW set up consists of the following major equipment:
a) Electron gun,
b) Power supply,
c) Vacuum Chamber, and
d) Work piece Holding Device.

Electron Gun:

It is heart of electron beam welding. It is a cathode tube (negative pole) which generates electrons, accelerate them and focus it on a spot. This gun is mostly made by tungsten or tantalum alloys. The cathode filament heated up to 2500 degree centigrade for continuous emission of electrons.

Anode:

Anode is a positive pole which is just after the electron gun. Its main function is to attract negative charge, (in this case electron) provide them a path and don’t allow them to diverge from its path.

Magnetic Lenses:

There are a series of magnetic lenses which allows only convergent electrons to pass. They absorb all low energy and divergent electrons, and provide a high intense electron beam.

Electromagnetic lens and deflection coil:

Electromagnetic lens used to focus the electron beam on work piece and deflection coil deflect the beam at required weld area. These are last unit of EBW process.

Work holding device:

EBW uses CNC table for hold work piece which can move in all three direction. The welding plates are clamped on CNC table with the use of suitable fixtures.

Vacuum Chamber:

As we know, whole this process takes place in a vacuum chamber. Vacuum is created by mechanical or electric driven pump. The pressure ranges in vacuum chamber is about 0.1 to 10 Pa.

Advantages of EBW:
1) High penetration to width can be obtained, which is difficult with other welding processes.
2) High welding speed is obtained.
3) Material of high melting temperature can be welded.
4) Superior weld quality due to welding in vacuum.
5) High precision of the welding is obtained.
6) Distortion is less due to less heat affected zone.
7) Dissimilar materials can be welded.
8) Low operating cost.
9) Cleaning cost is negligible.
10) Reactive materials like beryllium, titanium etc. can be welded.
11) Materials of high melting point like columbium, tungsten etc. can be welded.
12) Inaccessible joints can be made.
13) Very wide range of sheet thickness can be joined (0.025 mm to 100 mm)

Disadvantages of EBW:
1) Very high equipment cost.
2) High vacuum is required.
3) High safety measures are required.
4) Large jobs are difficult to weld.
5) Skilled man power is required.

Electron beam welding applications

1. Electron beam welding process is mostly used in joining of refractive materials like columbium, tungsten, ceramic etc. which are used in missiles.
2. In space shuttle applications wherein reactive materials like beryllium, zirconium, titanium etc. are used.
3. In high precession welding for electronic components, nuclear fuel elements, special alloy jet engine components and pressure vessels for rocket plants.
4. Dissimilar material can be welded like invar with stainless steel.

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