In recently developed Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies, high-energy sources have been used to fabricate metallic parts, in a layer by layer fashion, by sintering and/or melting metal powders. In particular, Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) utilizes a high-energy electron beam to melt and fuse metal powders to build solid parts. EBAM is one of a few AM technologies capable of making full-density metallic parts and has dramatically extended their applications. Heat transport is the center of the process physics in EBAM, involving a high-intensity, localized moving heat source and rapid self-cooling, and is critically correlated to the part quality and process efficiency.
In this study, a finite element model was developed to simulate the transient heat transfer in a part during EBAM subject to a moving heat source with a Gaussian volumetric distribution. The developed model was first examined against literature data. The model was then used to evaluate the powder porosity and the beam size effects on the high temperature penetration volume (melt pool size). The major findings include the following. (1) For the powder layer case, the melt pool size is larger with a higher maximum temperature compared to a solid layer, indicating the importance of considering powders for the model accuracy. (2) With the increase of the porosity, temperatures are higher in the melt pool and the molten pool sizes increase in the depth, but decrease along the beam moving direction. Furthermore, both the heating and cooling rates are higher for a lower porosity level. (3) A larger electron-beam diameter will reduce the maximum temperature in the melt pool and temperature gradients could be much smaller, giving a lower cooling rate. However, for the tested electron beam-power level, the beam diameter around 0.4 mm could be an adequate choice.