VIDEO: How Electron Beam Melting Inspired GE’s Acquisition of Arcam
James Anderton posted on June 21, 2017 |
“You don’t have to heat-treat EBM parts,” said Arcam expert on additive post-processing.

GE has been on a bit of a shopping spree in the additive manufacturing space lately, with major acquisitions like Concept Laser and Arcam.

In the video above, we speak with Bruce Bradshaw, chief marketing officer at Arcam, about what these acquisitions may mean for GE and how Arcam’s Electron Beam Melting (EBM) stands apart from conventional laser beam technology.

“I think GE sees opportunities to get into a space that can bring value to a lot of customers,” Bradshaw said. “Buying two companies like Concept Laser and Arcam, people might think that since we’re both in metals that it might not make sense, but I look at it as ‘co-opetition’. There is some crossover between laser and EBM technologies and there are applications outside of what one or the other company can do to justify why GE would purchase both.”

Arcam specializes in applications for the aerospace and orthopedics markets, with products like turbine blades and hip cups, using their EBM technology.

EBM uses a vacuum chamber for a hot process, allowing Arcam to build bulkier parts with less residual stress, Bradshaw explained.

“Because of the way EBM works, we can do some in-situation monitoring that isn’t available in laser technologies. We use a 3,000kWh gun, which is 10 times faster than lasers would be. Because of the way our technology works, we can stack and nest parts. If a laser were to do a hip cup, they could get 12 cups through in the same amount of time that we could get 80 cups through.”

When machining to net or near-net shape, stress relieving can cause warpage to the part. With EBM, manufacturers can minimize the dangers of stress relief by incorporating heat treatment into the printing process.

“Because we’re building in a hot process, the part is stress relieved layer by layer as opposed to having to go to a heat treatment after,” Bradshaw explained. “You don’t have to heat-treat EBM parts when they’re done, it’s more about compressing porosity and voids than it is about stress relieving.”

To learn more about how EBM can achieve the right surface finish for such diverse parts and more, watch the video above and visit the Arcam website.

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