Electron beam solving industrial challenges

14 Nov 2017

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

New equipment and capabilities in TWI’s Electron Beam (EB) welding and processing facilities offer more versatile high and low power machines for development and low volume subcontracting.

2017 has seen 200mm thick pressure vessel steel welded with support from Innovate UK and TWI Members, and thin 0.7mm demonstrator valves in stainless steel welded and tested for the European Space Agency, alongside a wide range of other materials and applications.

Innovate UK funding is underpinning a deeper investigation of TWI proprietary surface engineering technology, Surfi-Sculpt®, for orthopaedics implant developments, and also of the largest known local vacuum EB site deployment - welding a 50 tonne nuclear pressure vessel at Sheffield Forgemasters.

2018 to 2020 is set to see further investment in additive manufacturing, with the welding equipment used increasingly for high deposition rate EB wire-fed additive, as TWI works to enable UK capability for upscaling and industrial testing in this field with support from its Core Research Programme. TWI has a wealth of experience and knowledge of depositing titanium, nickel and similar alloys with the main interests for aerospace and power generation.

After over 50 years of service, meeting advanced user demands remains a driver for TWI’s EB team, leading to development of equipment solutions for challenging applications – including plasma electron sources for long life and novel laser excited diode EB sources. Tools from TWI for industrial deployment, such as BeamAssureTM, give confidence in equipment performance and consistency through ‘finger printing’ the beam at full welding power, alongside each use.

The Cambridge facility is also able to support Industrial Members by bridging supply chain gaps. It caters for complexity with oversized and reconfigurable machines as well as specialist materials knowledge in conjunction with a range of assessment techniques and technologies. Where appropriate, this allows it to take on low volume projects which are often undesirable for the commercial jobbing community.


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