A Great Process, with One Significant Limitation
Electron beam welding is considered the preeminent fusion welding process. An EB weld is exceptionally high quality, retaining 97% of the strength of the base materials, and free of oxides and impurities due to the nature of the electron beam welding process. An electron beam can weld high strength/high temp metals like titanium with relative ease and works very well for joining refractory metals and dissimilar combinations of metals. In short, if it can be melted, an electron beam can probably weld it.
The welding mechanism of electron beam welding— the generation of the beam using an electron gun, the subsequent acceleration, and the focusing of the beam via electronics and magnetism, hasn’t significantly changed since its initial development in the 1950s. What has changed, though, is the process by which parts are manipulated in the weld chamber to give the beam access to weld locations. Originally, parts were manipulated by an operator using geared fixtures. This particular aspect of electron beam welding has been steadily advanced via computer automation.
Most electron beam welding service providers use what can best be described as semi-automated processes. Parts are manually loaded into fixtures, and the fixtures are moved in the weld chamber by CNC controllers. However, the actual finding and “targeting” of the weld location is largely the responsibility of a human operator. At EB Industries, our operators are the best in the world. They average twenty years’ experience, many of them possess engineering degrees, and all of them undergo extensive and continual training to ensure the welds they make meet stringent ISO, MIL and AWS specifications.
Operator Skill and Precision Welding
For most applications, our operators, utilizing industry standard technology, can create excellent welds that will withstand the rigors of the application with flying colors. EB Industries has an industry-leading low field failure rate. Our reputation is built on that—the skill of our operators.
However—and here’s the limitation—for some highly critical applications, no level of operator skill is enough to ensure what might essentially be termed a “perfect weld.” For mission critical parts going on aircraft and spacecraft, another level of precision is required, and that level is beyond the capabilities of a human operator working with a semi-automated electron beam welder.
The Best EB Welder Available for Mission Critical Applications
The president of EB Industries, Steve DeLalio, took it upon himself to build not only a better EB welder, but what is arguably the most accurate and precise electron beam welding platform available. Steve drew upon what is essentially a lifetime of experience—he learned to operate EB welders in his late teens while working for his father, George DeLalio, who founded EB Engineering in 1967. Steve subsequently developed much of the software, automation and tooling used to control the array of electron beam welders at EB Industries, utilizing his degrees in computer science and engineering. The EB WeldCube is a culmination of everything Steve and EB Industries has learned in a pioneering career that spans nearly a century.
The EB WeldCube, currently in operation in our Farmingdale, New York facility, is a fully automated electron beam welding solution. It has a smaller footprint than typical electron beam welders and takes advantage of the latest technologies, from vacuum systems to beam generation to part manipulation, and most critically, to weld location targeting.
Advantages of Fully Automated Electron Bean Welding
Unlike virtually every other electron beam welder in the US, the EB WeldCube locates welds non-optically. Instead, it uses a proprietary process, similar to that of an electron microscope, to scan the part, locate weld points with beyond-human accuracy, and then automatically engage the electron beam and execute the needed welds. The EB WeldCube’s weld finding system can effectively find weld locations that cannot be seen by a human eye even at high levels of magnification, let alone through the typical weld locating optics used on most electron beam welders in the US.
Automated, non-optical weld location is only the start of the advantages the EB WeldCube offers. The machine’s automation is fully coupled to its parameter monitoring. In essence, our machine can “see” what it is welding and respond automatically to any issues that might occur during the welding process that might negatively affect weld quality. As an example, should there be an impurity in the material, or an out-of-tolerance fit to the parts, the EB WeldCube can “notice” this and then take an action, such as pausing the welding process and signaling an alert, or recalibrating and re-executing the weld. What the EB WeldCube responds to, and how it responds, is fully programmable to fit the requirements of the project and the specification under which parts are being manufactured.
Logging and Tracing Critical, Precision Welds
The automation and monitoring systems of the EB WeldCube allow extensive logging and reporting analytics of the process by which any part is welded. Currently, the system logs nine parameters, which means comprehensive data and a new level of traceability. In fact, the accuracy and data collection of the EB WeldCube operates at a level beyond the specifications to which many of our customers are required to adhere.
Repeatability and consistency of welds is a non-issue for the EB WeldCube. Its extensive automation, weld tracking and data logging enable it to precisely weld parts with unparalleled consistency. Once the machine is programmed, to the parameters the job requires, it executes welds perfectly. It never has a bad day, an upset stomach, a pending meeting. Nothing breaks its concentration.
The Best, but not for All Applications
As stated earlier, most electron beam welding jobs don’t require the level of precision afforded by the EB WeldCube. If your project is a short run, the required programming might not be cost effective. Large, heavy parts that involve high power densities and deep penetrations are likewise not appropriate to the EB WeldCube, which is better suited for small, intricate welds. Finally, there are definitely projects that require a human eye and a human touch for the best result.
However, if your part simply cannot fail in a mission critical application, the EB WeldCube is unequivocally the best solution. It provides extreme accuracy and precision, high consistency and repeatability, and unbeatable traceability. It is the process that will eventually be a job requirement, rather than a good idea, and it is available to you now.
Please contact our engineering staff if you have a project that you think might benefit from the tremendous advantages of our EB WeldCube.