Electron beam welding was developed by German physicist Karl-Heinz Steigerwald of Stuttgart, West Germany before 1958. Steigerwald had been conducting experiments on their electron microscope to increase power of the scope and found out to their surprise, that the specimen which was being examined would disappear. Later, Steigerwald determined that by regulating the power settings, the specimen would melt and re-solidify. Thus the electron beam welder was born.
In 1959 through agreements with the Carl Zeiss Co., United Technologies Corporation (then called United Aircraft) and its division, Hamilton Standard, sold “Zeiss” electron beam welders in the United States. Hamilton Standard then sold E.B. machines with a label “Hamilton – Zeiss” and finally produced machines labeled “Hamilton Standard”.
In 1976 Hamilton Standard sold its interest in the electron beam welding business to Leybold – Heraeus Vacuum Systems Inc. In 1989 the entire operation was taken over by PTR – Precision Technologies Inc., Enfield, CT. To date, over 800 electron beam welders have been installed around the world through the combined efforts of Zeiss Co./ Hamilton Standard/ Leybold-Heraeus/ PTR Precision Technologies Inc.
The various electron beam systems available are: high vacuum, partial vacuum, and non-vacuum and are used accordingly depending upon the application.
Today, electron beam welding is used in many diversified industries throughout the world such as: nuclear, aerospace, aircraft, automotive, instrumentation, medical, electronics, commercial and job shops.