Insights

E-PBF Myth #1 “E-PBF manufacturing requires coarse powder”

In the world of Additive Manufacturing, E-PBF (Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion) has the potential to revolutionize industries from aerospace to healthcare.

Unfortunately, E-PBF historically has been associated with a few shortcomings that actually are just myths and not true! In a series of short articles, we will go beyond these myths to elaborate on why and how the myths arose, and how we at Freemelt have developed unique technology and solutions that overcome these myths. Today we present the first myth: “E-PBF can only handle coarse metal powders, usually larger than 50 micrometers”

In this article, we break this myth and unveil Freemelt’s technology, which challenges old beliefs and takes E-PBF to new heights.

But first, let’s dig deeper into the myth; “E-PBF requires coarse powder”!
A myth is a widely believed idea that turns out to be untrue upon closer inspection. The belief that E-PBF needs coarse powders has its heritage from early observations of “smoke” issues with finer powders as, fine powders in any given material are generally more smoke‐sensitive than coarse powders, as the surface‐to‐volume ratio is higher.

This myth originates from the early days of E-PBF, where coarse titanium powders, between 45 and 106 micrometers, were commonly used. While coarse powders were favored in the past for their simplicity and cost, modern technology has overcome this limitation and as technology progressed, it has become clear that particle size is not as limiting as previously thought.

Freemelt’s E-PBF technology to overcome and disprove the myth
Freemelt introduces a new era in E-PBF with its patented preheating technology preventing smoke during the build process and enabling the use of powders smaller than 45 micrometers, bridging the gap between E-PBF and L-PBF (Laser Powder Bed Fusion).

Introducing the solution ‐ ProHeat® preheating technology
With the patented ProHeat® technology, we can effectively utilize finer powders, surpassing the limitations of standard practices and you can trust that the process is stable regardless of particle size.

To mitigate smoke during the build process, the conventional approach is to preheat the powder before melting, by scanning an electron beam rapidly over the powder bed in specific patterns. This preheating causes light sintering and improves electrical conduction. However, some powders are too smoke‐sensitive to be preheated directly by the beam. ProHeat® is Freemelt’s patented solution that addresses this issue.

ProHeat® functions by lowering a plate closely above the powder bed and heating it red hot using the electron beam. The plate is grounded, preventing it from charging during this process. The high heat conductivity of the plate allows for a precise preheating of the powder without interaction with the electron beam. Additionally, the conventional solution to the smoke problem also involves the insertion of inert gas into the vacuum to help dissipate electric charge. ProHeat® eliminates this need for expensive high‐purity gas such as helium or argon.

Freemelt’s unique E-PBF technology disproves and overcomes the myth that E-PBF’s require course powders!
With Freemelt’s technology, E-PBF becomes more versatile, allowing for intricate designs and complex geometries with the potential to revolutionize industries including medical equipment, energy, aerospace, defense, and orthopedic implants.

Within these segments, Freemelt aims to be perceived as a productivity partner, providing value throughout the entire product lifecycle by generating increased productivity, reducing operating costs, and maximizing long-term customer value.


Image 1. Manifold built in Ti64 in Freemelt® ONE with ProHeat® and Pixelmelt®

Read more about Freemelt’s unique features, ProHeat® and Pixelmelt®:
ProHeat® – our unique solution for smoke-safe EBM processing | Freemelt
Spot Melting | Freemelt
Why melting “Pixels”? | Freemelt

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