The NeuBeam process is a powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing (AM) process that utilises an electron beam (eBeam) as its heat source. While other eBeam processes are available on the market, NeuBeam is unique because it achieves full charge neutralisation during the build process, which offers superior metallurgical capabilities. In turn this opens up new opportunities for application development with a wider and more open choice of metal materials for production applications with metal additive manufacturing.
The NeuBeam process eliminates issues concerning residual stress with typical metal AM processes, directly producing metal parts with demonstrably greater internal integrity while eliminating the need for an entire sinter cake around the parts, which require costly and time-consuming post-processing steps that can negate the benefits of AM for a given application. This is achieved by only applying the required high temperatures to the part being built, rather than the entire powder bed.
NeuBeam is delivered via a completely new system architecture based on a stable, reliable and flexible eBeam PBF process that produces fully dense parts in a wide range of materials — many of which are not compatible with traditional eBeam or laser PBF processes. This includes refractory metals and highly reflective alloys.
new opportunities for application development with a wider and more open choice of metal materials
The new NeuBeam architecture has been developed as a much more open system than many other metal AM systems. This is intentional to allow for the ongoing development of new processing parameters in a more straightforward way, which promotes innovative application development and optimises material usage. Complete process transparency and control also allow users to continually monitor and optimise their manufacturing processes in real time.
The NeuBeam® process deployed in Calibur3 is capable of producing fully dense parts in a wide range of materials, many of which are not compatible with traditional eBeam or laser PBF processes like refractory metals such as tungsten and highly reflective alloys. Being a hot part rather than a hot bed process, NeuBeam creates parts that are free from residual stresses because the high processing temperatures required are applied to the part, not the bed, ensuring free-flowing powder post-build (no sinter cake) and stress-free parts with reduced energy consumption.
This opens up the ability to process a range of metals that are difficult or impossible to process on traditional metal AM machines such as:
Titanium (Ti) Alloys including titanium aluminide (TIAI)
Titanium is a strong, wear resistant, ductile, and lightweight metal. Titanium is also biocompatible as well as being corrosion resistant with low modulus of elasticity therefore finding uses in aerospace, medical, energy and power generation, automotive, and military and defence applications.
Copper (CU) Alloys
Copper and copper alloys are extremely versatile, and combine physical properties such as strength, conductivity, corrosion resistance, and ductility. Copper’s conductivity makes it useful in electric car applications and some mission-critical space applications. Most traditional AM processes struggle to process copper due to its high reflectivity and high transmission of heat and electricity. NeuBeam overcomes such issues, and therefore negates the negative impact of non-absorbed beam energy on the metal AM build process.
Nickel (Ni) based alloys
Nickel-based alloys are known for their excellent corrosion resistance and strength, and are found in high-temperature environments due to their superior resistance to heat. Nickel-based alloys are typically used in applications like jet turbines, gas turbines, oil and gas, pressure vessels or chemical processing components. The NeuBeam® process overcomes issues that traditional AM processes exhibit when processing Nickel-based alloys based around thermodynamic properties such as phase precipitation kinetics and crack susceptibility.
Nickel Titanium (NiTi)
Nickel–titanium alloy, or Nitinol, is a smart material with shape memory and superelastic properties. It has an elastic modulus closer to that of bone than other metal and metal alloy implant materials, and finds application in orthodontics, in the treatment of bone fractures, and as bone suture anchors for attaching soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments to bone. The NeuBeam® process overcomes issues that traditional AM systems struggle with when processing NiTi which are associated with the effective translation of shape memory and superelastic properties, which in turn is due to the influence of alloy chemistry on functional properties.
High Carbon Steels
Any steel with a carbon content of 0.55 percent or higher is considered high-carbon steel. High carbon steel properties include a very high strength, extreme hardness, and resistance to wear, and moderate ductility. It is used in cutting tools, because of its ability to keep a very sharp edge under harsh wear conditions. The NeuBeam® process enables the printing of alloys with higher carbon contents that would otherwise crack when printed using existing laser PBF techniques.
Stainless & Duplex stainless steel
Stainless steel is an exceedingly versatile material, and is characterised by its high resistance to corrosion, durability, hardness, ductility, and toughness. The use of additively manufactured austenitic, duplex, and precipitation hardenable martensitic grade stainless steels in critical applications is limited by large uncertainties in material properties and performance. These uncertainties can be traced to complex and unique microstructures driven by processing conditions significantly different than those used to produce their wrought counterparts. NeuBeam® overcomes these uncertainties and produces fully dense stainless steel parts with no residual stress-related issues.
Tungsten (W) alloys
Tungsten alloys are best suited for applications where there is a requirement for a large weight concentrated in the minimum possible space. They are also an ideal material for high-vacuum technology that needs very high temperatures. The Neubeam® process in the Calibur 3 is capable of producing fully dense parts in a wide range of materials, many of which are not compatible with traditional eBeam or laser PBF processes like refractory metals such as Tungsten.
Cobalt (Co) based alloys
Cobalt based metals are alloyed with chrome, nickel, and tungsten. Due to the high cost of these alloys, they are used where severe conditions prevail and require high temperature strength and hardness, excellent wear, galling, corrosion, and/or erosion resistance. Parts produced in cobalt-based alloys using traditional metal AM processes tend to require significant post-processing and heat treatment which is not necessary using the NeuBeam® process which produces fully dense parts in Cobalt based alloys with no residual stress-related issues.