The electron beam welding process is used in a variety of industries and applications from fully automated, high productivity and low cost automotive in-line part production to single part batch processes.
When it comes to automotive and aerospace applications, manufacturers need welding processes capable of meeting stringent standards, and electron beam welding fits those requirements.
In an electron beam welder, electrons are literally boiled off a metal part as current passes through a filament. The parts and the welder are enclosed within a vacuum, and an electrostatic field, generated by a negatively charged filament and bias cup, and a positively charged anode, accelerates electrons to anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of the speed of light. The electrons are shaped into a beam, and as these electrons have exceptionally low mass, the direction in which they can be made to travel can be directed by electromagnetic fields.
Electron Beam Welding is excellent for use with refractory alloys and dissimilar materials, and the high power density and low overall heat input of such devices results in minimum distortion to the finished part. Such parts require very little post-weld machining and heat treatment, and the process operates without shielding gases.
It's this process which Sciaky, Inc. uses, at a relatively fast deposition rate of seven to 20 pounds of metal per hour, to manufacture parts up to nineteen feet long, four feet wide and four feet high in a variety of high tech metals like Inconel.
Inconel is a superalloy which boasts both high strength and durability to ensure the reliability of the vehicle as a whole. A nickel-chromium-based material made by Special Metals Corporation, it's typically used in applications where it's likely to meet high temperature requirements.
First developed in the 1940s by teams of researchers working for Wiggin Alloys in Hereford, England, Inconel alloys are highly resistant to oxidation and corrosion and those properties make Inconel well suited to survival in extreme environments where high pressures and extensive kinetic energy are present.
Located in Chicago, Illinois, Sciaky's world headquarters occupies over 140,000 square feet to provide a wide range of custom welding services to manufacturers in the aerospace, defense, automotive and healthcare industries. But it's their built-to-order EB welding systems which are drawing the most interest. These fully-programmable devices can achieve what are called "near-net shape parts" from high-value metals.
Established in 1939, Sciaky, Inc. has partnered with the Association of the US Army, The American Welding Society, The Center for Innovative Materials, Pennsylvania State University, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the National Defense Industrial Association and The Welding Institute Ltd. in the development of EB systems and various other projects.