Thermal characterization of the build chamber in electron beam melting

E. Landau, E. Tiferet, Y. I. Ganor, R. K. Ganeriwala, M. J. Matthews, D. Braun, M. Chonin, G. Ziskind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electron beam powder bed fusion, commonly termed electron beam melting (EBM), offers great versatility in multiple-part processes and can produce high quality as-built components due to low residual stresses. The EBM process is complex and requires careful thermal management, including uniform and consistent preheating of the powder bed, in order to ensure quality and consistency of the product. However, most of the simulations in the literature focus on the selective melting stage of the process. As of today, optimal conditions for initial pre-heating temperatures are only available for specific materials. Thus, in order to extend the EBM technology to other desired build materials, a much better understanding of the pre-heating stages is required. In this study, numerical and experimental approaches are combined in order to investigate the effects and sensitivities of heat removal from the build plate during EBM pre-heating stages. For this purpose, a carefully reconstructed numerical model of the build chamber of an ARCAM Q20+ machine is developed. It includes all main parts of the chamber and all relevant heat transfer mechanisms, whereas special attention is paid to radiation heat exchange between various bodies. In order to validate the model, dedicated experiments are performed, in which a system of thermocouples is installed in the build chamber, allowing direct measurement of the local temperatures of the start-plate and heat shields. A good agreement between the simulation and experimental findings is achieved, leading to a better understanding of the thermal processes characteristic to the pre-heating stages. This basic analysis is followed by a representative pre-heating case, where a powder bed is also considered. The energy required to obtain the desired pre-heating temperatures is evaluated, and the role of the powder bed in heat transfer within the chamber is assessed. The pre-heating stage, simulated in the present work, is supposed to create proper conditions for sintering and consequent melting of the powder, which are highly dependent on the local temperatures and heat transfer features. Thus, the findings of the reported work present a step towards a better understanding of the thermal processes that characterize EBM. The reported model can be further used to provide realistic boundary condition inputs for other meso- or macro-scale models as a function of time and geometry. The model can serve also for verification of machine settings, i.e., jump-safe and melt-safe ones which actually provide desired preheat, and for development of settings for new powders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101535
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Volume36
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Build chamber
  • EBM
  • Heat transfer
  • Pre-heating
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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