Thu, 24 June, 2021
TWI has recently taken delivery of a new coaxial electron beam wire additive manufacturing system from xBeam (xBeam-18/I), funded by the Open Architecture Additive Manufacturing (OAAM) project.
The OAAM programme plans to develop directed energy deposition (DED) additive manufacturing (AM) technologies that can be scaled up to accept multi-metre component sizes for the benefit of UK aerospace. These new platforms will enable aerospace manufacturers and their supply chains to develop advanced AM manufacturing concepts.
The xBeam-18/I electron beam system is capable of processing 7 different wire diameters from 1.0mm up to 3.2mm. The xBeam system is mounted on a 3 x 3 x 4m chamber and can build metre scale components with a 1,000mm vertical axis on the novel electron gun (xGun). Thanks to the 18kW high voltage power supply and 20kV accelerating voltage, X-ray radiation is less of a concern than higher voltage systems. It also has two in-chamber video cameras in protective casings for adjustment of xGun positioning during processing.
Watch a CGI animation of the new xBeam system here.
The electron beam department at TWI has significant experience of electron beam additive manufacturing for many applications using wire feed for welding in the 1990’s and for additive manufacturing in the 2000's.
The OAAM project, which is supported by Innovate UK (Ref: 113164), commenced on 1 January 2018 and will run for three and a half years.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial application of 3D printing, the layer-by-layer construction of a part from a 3D model created using computer-aided design software.
It is the collective name for a group of technologies that use a variety of feedstocks, power sources and build techniques. At TWI we specialise in metal AM, working with a diverse range of metals in both wire and powder form, fusing them together using lasers, electron beams and electric arcs.
As well as enabling the rapid creation of unique, complex and bespoke parts, AM is also an effective method of repair and remanufacture. It can be used to replace parts that are no longer in production, or to modify existing parts for improved performance.
Additive manufacturing represents a step change in the flexibility of production, allowing businesses to design and make better products, enter new markets and develop new business models, react more quickly to changing demands, and explore the possibilities of digital manufacturing.