Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

How can electron beam welding be used for fabrication of thick sections?


Frequently Asked Questions

The features that make electron beam welding attractive as a joining process are not simply confined to thinner section materials.

Very thick materials can be joined rapidly by high power electron beam welding. With a 100kW system, penetrations of over 100mm in copper, 250mm in steel and 450mm in aluminium alloys allow reliable single pass welding of thick section materials. As with lower power electron beam welding, there are many benefits, e.g. improved productivity, reduced distortion, increased efficiency, etc, when compared with alternative processes.

For example, thick walled vessels can be fabricated quickly and economically by electron beam welding. The vessel illustrated here was welded in ~2 hours, which included ~40 minutes to achieve welding vacuum. The high power beam was operational for ~40 minutes, in which time 4 metres of welded joint were completed in the 100mm thick steel. This compares extremely favourably with alternative processes.

High power electron beam welding is under consideration for fabrication of nuclear waste containers. It is proposed that high level nuclear waste is sealed into thick section copper cylinders, which are then put into long-term storage in a safe environment. The requirement is likely to be for a high integrity weld in up to 70mm thickness copper, produced by a fully automated process. Electron beam welding fulfils these criteria, and welding trials to date have been most encouraging.

Typical welding parameters for 70mm thick copper are 80kW at 250mm/min, thus completing a 1m diameter weld in ~15 minutes.

These examples illustrate the ability of electron beam welding to produce high quality thick section fabrications quickly and economically.

For further information see Joining Technologies or please contact us.

For more information please email: