Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) is a powder-based process for the additive manufacturing of three-dimensional components.

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3D Metal Printing allows for the economic manufacturing of components in high numbers which would not be possible with conventional methods.

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Additive Manufacturing - From Powder to Component

Customer-specific products, greater variation of design, shorter innovation cycles, and breaching the gap between small batch sizes and mass production are modern day challenges of manufacturing companies. One promising approach is additive manufacturing. This allows considerable improvement in the manufacturing economics due to the concomitant reduction in material and plant costs, shorter production time, and enhanced component design.

 

Technologies at the Dresden site

© Fraunhofer IFAM

Design prototype for EBM made of Ti-6Al-4V (CAD template: University of Duisburg-Essen, Department of Production Technology).

© Fraunhofer IFAM

3D screen printed structure (prototype).

Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) is a powder bed based method whereby components are generated layer by layer by melting a powder with an electron beam. Besides the beam source, the process differs from other additive manufacturing methods in the following ways:

  • The powder bed is held at elevated temperature during the layer formation process. The sintering of the powder particles provides a supporting effect in the powder bed and prevents the formation of powder dust by the electron beam.
  • The process operates under high vacuum. The level of contamination in the process is hence very low, meaning very reactive materials can be processed.

In 3D screen printing the component is built up by a paste which contains metal powder via a screen printing process. Special features of the technology are as follows:

  • The use of a paste means that all materials that are available as a powder can be employed.
  • The use of fine powders enables high-quality surfaces and fine structures to be realized.
  • The use of the industrially established screen printing process enables problem-free mass production of components.

Opportunities, market potential, perspectives

Additive manufacturing methods can potentially lead to completely new production chains and products. For metallic components, powder based methods allow much greater freedom of design and the use of a very wide range of materials. Fraunhofer IFAM has state-of-the art equipment and longstanding know-how of materials and powder metallurgy. This expertise in technology and materials provides an excellent basis for Fraunhofer IFAM to assist with implementation in industrial production.