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How Good is Electron Beam Welding?

Our “advantages” page on electron beam welding have told us what its outstanding advantages are. But how does it compare with other kinds of welding, and what are its prospects as a production welding technique? Westinghouse has made a thorough study of these questions at its Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory and has voted in favor of the new process, at least for certain applications.

“Chemical analyses, metallography, corrosion tests, and mechanical property evaluations have revealed satisfactory properties in the Zircaloy-2 welded by this process.” Of course, the main reason for its success in welding a reactive material like Zircaloy-2 is that the process operates in a high vacuum. At a pressure of only about 0.03 micron of mercury, there is practically no atmosphere left in the welding chamber to cause contamination. And, unless the high vacuum is maintained, the electrons will not travel from the cathode to bombard the work.

High depth-to-width ratio

A particular advantage of electron beam welding equipment is the high concentration of thermal energy at the work piece. Because of this feature, the machine can make welds with a depth-to-width ratio of 2:1 in Zircaloy-2, and a ratio of 3:1 has been achieved with special machine adjustments. But what does this mean in actual processing? Primarily, it means a narrow fusion zone and heat-affected zone, and it means less shrinkage and thermal distortion. The equipment also maintains “remarkably uniform weld penetration.”

The deep penetration of electron beam welds minimizes the amount of over-penetration and avoids the obliteration of adjacent seams. With the tungsten arc process, the seam adjacent to the last seam welded becomes covered by the fusion zone, and accurate tracking is difficult.

Reduced shrinkage

The lowered total energy input to the weld by the electron beam effectively reduces the shrinkage and thermal distortion to which the work piece is subjected. Total transverse shrinkage per weld seam has been 0.010 to 0.012 in. for tungsten arc welds and only 0.001 to 0.002 in. for electron beam welds. These benefits are possible only with high-voltage electron beam equipment.

How about costs?

But, with all its advantages, how does high-voltage electron beam welding stack up on costs? Andrews Hi-Tec Corp says the main factor here is the greatly reduced distortion because of lower energy input. Special spacers will be eliminated; post-weld match machining will be reduced; and special straightening operations will no longer be necessary. In addition, deep penetration will eliminate the need for multiple passes and filler wire additions. And the vacuum will permit fuel elements to be welded without removing the corrosion film left by previous corrosion tests and will permit elimination of subsequent corrosion testing of fuel assemblies.

Overall savings is huge

Taking all these savings together it appears that there is a potential cost reduction of 45 to 60% in direct labor costs of a typical assembly. Enough of a savings to justify choosing the electron beam welding expertise of Andrew Hi-Tec Corporation for your metal joining production applications.


For more information, contact Andrews Hi-Tec Corporation at 2447 Merced Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733; 1-626-443-1488; or see


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What is Electron Beam Welding?

Andrews Hi-Tec Electron Beam Welding is a fusion welding process with great promise specifically in the medical, nuclear and aerospace industries.

Electron Beam Welding is a fusion welding process in that the mechanism of welding is to join two or more pieces of metal by local melting, which results in coalescence. Filler metal and base metal, or more likely, base metal only may be melted together to produce a joint.

The heat required for welding is produced by the bombardment of the work by a dense beam of high velocity electrons. That is, the electron beam is directed upon the area to be fused, and the electrons upon striking the surface of the metal give up their kinetic energy almost completely in the form of heat energy.

For more information about Electron Beam Welding and to request a free EB weld sample of your part, please contact Andrews Hi-Tec Corporation at (626) 443-1488 and research more information about the electron beam welding process on the internet at


For more information, contact Andrews Hi-Tec Corporation at 2447 Merced Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733; 1-626-443-1488; or see

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History of Electron Beam Welding

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.


For more information, contact Andrews Hi-Tec Corporation at 2447 Merced Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733;
1-626-443-1488; or see

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Electron Beam Welding PDF Brochure

When you visit our location we have a physical copy of our Andrews Hi-Tec Corporation brochure. Until then, you can download it to your computer as a PDF file (1.9mb). Please click the link to view in your browser or right click and save to save it to your computer…

You can also view our Electron Beam Welding brochure with Issuu. Check it out!



Thank you so much for visiting us today!

For more information, contact Andrews Hi-Tec Corporation at 2447 Merced Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733; 1-626-443-1488; or see

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