Electron Beam Melting
Electron Beam Melting (EBM) is an additive manufacturing technique which consists in fusing together thin powder layers by means of an electron beam. Electron Beam Melting enables the fabrication of metal prototypes or production series, ready for testing or to be used as final parts. This technology is ideal for the re-engineering and creation of new products or components to be applied in the biomedical and orthopaedic field, more particularly for maxillofacial or veterinary surgery.
The fusing beam is concentrated, accelerated and directed towards the micro-powder particles having a granulometry of 45-80um, the created parts have a density of almost 100%. The Electron Beam Melting technology is similar to the SLM (or DMLS) technology where the powder is deposited in very subtle layers (50 micrometers) in a vacuum (without oxygen) and is continuously pre-heated (for example for Titanium Ti64 at about 740°C,) with a high melting capacity (till 80cm3/h). The electron beam has a more concentrated melting power than the laser beam, which is due to the difference in atomic mass between the electron and the photon. The electron beam melting can easily reach temperatures between 700°C and 1400°C and even more. With this technology components can be created out of materials difficult to melt through traditional techniques such as Titanium Aluminide (Ti-Al), titanium-niobium alloys or other elements.
The Electron Beam Melting process is a so-called hot process, during which the powder is kept at high and constant temperatures throughout the whole melting procedure . On the contrary, during the laser process, which is a cold technology, the micro powder is melted at room temperature in any case not exceeding 200°C. The components produced with Electron Beam Melting process have irrelevant residual stress or no stress at all and are thus not subject to thermal stretching after melting. They can immediately be used for mechanical processing or assembling. The Electron Beam Melting is currently employed with success in the aeronautic, aerospace and racing field. Mostly the biomedical sector benefits from this technology and in particular the human and animal orthopaedic and maxilla-facial surgery. The surface roughness obtained through Electron Beam Melting is more pronounced and therefore particularly appreciated by the human bone cells. This union between surface roughness and bone cells allows a perfect and final integration of bone implants prosthesis or substitutions.
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