Heavy industry constantly develops and becomes more and more demanding, mostly from the technological standpoint. This gives rise to a need to apply even newer and more advanced methods, e.g. welding that provides not only high quality of production but also reduces its costs.
The electron beam welding technology has been known for over half a century and it is continuously developed. It is used by the largest engineering companies all over the world. Advantage of this method is its versatility. It can be used for production of gradient materials, for hardfacing, perforating, soldering, engraving, studying physical phenomena, melting, prototyping, surface texturing and alloying. Another benefit resulting from this technology is lack of adverse effects affecting materials and high density of power.
Electron beam welding is used for welding materials that are welded not only using traditional methods but also for metals of various physicochemical properties, steels of increased carbon content, high thermal conductivity metals and chemically active metals. The technique of electron beam welding consists in heating the place of joint using an electron beam. Special devices are used for that purpose – electron welding machine, which generates electrons moving at speed of 200 km/s in vacuum, using an electron gun. Kinetic energy developed by them during impacts with metal surface is converted to heat that melts the metal. The produced weld has more regular shapes and is clean, glossy and narrower meaning that this method may provide materials of better parameters and strength properties. When using the electron beam welding method, it is possible perform the process not only after heat treatment but also before it.
The technique of welding in vacuum has some limitations that are imposed by the vacuum chamber dimensions. In order to expand the scope of this method application, the process can be performed under conditions of partial vacuum or gas atmosphere (it is so called non-vacuum welding). However, there may be some problems related to these solutions, such as diffusion of beam leading to reduction of admissible thickness of material and reduction of maximum distance of the gun. That is why, the technique of welding in a gas atmosphere is used mostly to join parts of any sizes, but small thickness.
The electron beam welding method is used in many industry disciplines. First and foremost, it is used in aviation, where it is applied to weld titanium and aluminium tanks, fuselage elements, arm holders, blades, drum rotor disks and fuel injectors. Within the automotive industry, the electron beam welds bodies of engines, coolers, filters, rims, catalytic converters and toothed gear elements. The method is also used to construct machines and sleeves, in power, electromagnetic industry as well as railway industry and in construction of rails. It is worth of mentioning that electron beam welding is applied in medical industry – it is used to weld toothed gear elements of artificial limbs as well as to modify implants surfaces.
Because of the capabilities of this welding method, it perfectly fits the full scale industrial production as well as production of single elements. Modern solutions ensure stability of parameters within the whole process, full freedom in programming and repeatability of results. Numerous technological advantages and low costs make that this welding technique is used by more and more branches of industry. What is important, the method can be applied to join materials where other technologies fail.