Electron Beam Melting (EBM) for Titanium Implant Production

EBM is an additive manufacturing technique capable of fabricating surgical implants with a solid, porous or hybrid solid combined with porous geometries. In this technique, a thin layer of loose titanium powder is spread on a build plate, followed by melting of select areas using a finely focused electron beam. CAD files are created and sliced into layers, which then dictate which areas of the loose titanium powder will be melted by the electron beam. This process is repeated layer by layer to achieve three-dimensional titanium parts. EBM allows for excellent control over part chemistry, mechanical properties and geometry with its ability to build unique structures for a wide range of applications. One example is porous-coated surgical implants. Using traditional manufacturing methods, creating the solid base part and applying a porous coating to that part required multiple processing steps, but with EBM parts with an integrated porous structure, it can be produced in a single step and with greater control over the three-dimensional structure of the porous structure. In this way, pore size and relative density of the surface can be intelligently tailored to facilitate bone ingrowth.

EBM Technical Details

  • Build envelope 200mm x 200mm x 180mm high.
  • Fine, pre-alloyed Ti6Al4V or Ti6Al4V-ELI powder (average particle size 70µm) is used for building layers of 50-70µm thickness.
  • The EBM process is run with a base temperature of ~700˚C kept throughout the process. Following the build, the parts emerge in a fully stress-relieved state.
  • Performing the process under a vacuum and at high temperature provides enhanced control over maintaining chemical and mechanical properties from the original powdered raw material.
  • High rates of powder reclamation and minimal use of support structures allow for a very efficient manufacturing method, minimizing waste of raw materials.

 

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