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What is 3D printing?
Classic 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, then known as rapid prototyping. Today, 3D printing (also known as „additive manufacturing“) is revolutionizing the entire industry. Printing spare parts at home is no longer just a vision, but has become reality. In the future, it will be possible to avoid supply chains, which will enable this technology to make a positive contribution to environmental development.
Classic 3D printing is often associated with the layer-by-layer application of plastic. In this process which is known as extrusion, plastic strands are melted and then applied layer by layer. However, this is only one of many processes now on the market. In industry in particular, other processes are frequently
used that enable additive manufacturing with other materials. What they all have in common is that materials are applied layer by layer. This allows complex, three-dimensional shapes to be produced that would be difficult or impossible to manufacture with other machines. It is now also possible to make
components from metal powders using an additive manufacturing process. This eliminates the otherwise laborious milling, turning, drilling or cutting of workpieces from metal blocks. The advantages are obvious: The process allows complicated parts to be produced that conventional metal processing is not technically or economically capable of. Last, but not least, this can be done in a drastically reduced time.
One particular method for producing 3D printed parts from metal powders is electron beam melting (EBM), where vacuum technology is indispensable.
Electron beam melting (EBM)
Electron beam melting (EBM) is an additive manufacturing technique in which the component is made from metal powders. The process is similar to selective laser melting (SLM). The main difference between the two melting processes is the energy source, which in this case is not a laser beam but an electron beam. This is one reason why the process is only possible under vacuum conditions.
Melting of the metal powder layer by layer