UK’s biggest electron beam welding chamber arrives at Nuclear AMRC

Posted on 20 May 2013

A 200-cubic metre electron beam welding chamber is being delivered to the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre near Rotherham.

The mega-machines at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire keep coming, as a giant e-beam welding machine is the latest to join the ranks of special kit at the two High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres.

The Pro-Beam K2000 electron beam welding chamber is designed for researching metal joining techniques with ultra-high precision, required for applications on super-large components like pressure vessels for nuclear power plants.

The unit is believed to be the largest in the UK, with a volume of 200m3. “It’s certainly the biggest that Pro-Beam has transported to the UK,” says head of communications at Nuclear AMRC, Tim Chapman. Each 39-tonne section had to be rotated to fit through the main doors.

The machine will be commissioned over the summer and autumn, after which it will be used for both advanced joining research and to investigate its use in additive manufacturing of large components.

“The electron beam system can join steel components with widths of over 100mm, with a very small heat-affected zone and low heat input, resulting in much lower deformation and residual stresses,” says Nuclear AMRC project manager Bernd Baufeld. “It can be more cost-effective and time-saving, and can also be used with high refractive materials such as titanium and zirconium.”

Professor Stephen Garwood of Rolls-Royce listed the e-beam welding capability of these machines as one of three critical technologies used by Rolls-Royce Nuclear in making vessels for nuclear components, in a talk at the Global Manufacturing Festival at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre last month.