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A Solution to the Quality Control Process for Electron Beam Welding

Ravenscourt Engineering Limited are using Vision ArchiVE, the new image archiving & analysis software from Vision Engineering Limited, to measure, analyse and catalogue joins that have been welded using the electron beam welding process. Imagery of the joins is captured using a stereo microscope and digital camera before analysing and documenting the imagery using Vision ArchiVE.

Ravenscourt Engineering Limited is a well established and respected engineering company specialising in electron beam welding. With the speed and accuracy of the process, electron beam welding is an increasingly preferred choice of welding technique, especially by manufacturers of precision machined component parts for aerospace, specialised automotive and pharmaceutical industries.

Utilising the Alpha stereo microscope from Vision Engineering to inspect the welded joins and Vision ArchiVE software to measure, analyse and archive the outcome, Ravenscourt Engineering can continuously perform effectively to aerospace standards. Martin Burridge, Senior Engineer at Ravenscourt Engineering Limited explains...

“The Alpha stereo microscope from Vision Engineering provides us with an exemplary stereo image, brilliant contrast and superb clarity required for the inspection and measurement process. Coordinated with the use of a digital camera and the Vision’s archiving and analysis software, enables us to digitise our findings, measure, analyse and generate a report for our quality control process. With the increase in orders and new projects, we need to be able to produce a comprehensive documenting system, providing us with a parameter to enforce a consistently high standard.”

Electron beam welding is a process joining two components by merging them with a stream of high velocity electrons accelerating at more than 100,000 miles per second. This method of welding produces power intensities 5,000 times greater than conventional welding because the beam in concentrated to a precise area of 0.2mm in diameter. Repeatability is high with this welding technique with maximum control governed by a filament current that controls the rate of electron emissions, and accelerating voltage which regulates the kinetic energy of the electrons. The compound used to weld the two components is usually a remelt of the component material itself. Ravenscourt Engineering has numerous electron beam welding machines varying in power and can accommodate components weighing in excess of half a tonne.

The primary components that requires electron beam welding from Ravenscourt Engineering are for the aerospace industry and include the electron beam welding of butt, corner, lap & edge joints and ‘T’ sections. This welding technique provides the engineer with the capabilities of welding otherwise inaccessible locations, although easier locations minimise the process time and therefore increase productivity. Benefits of the electron beam welding process include: precise control over penetration and dimensions; high level of repeatability; freedom from impurities; negligible distortion and shrinkage. Although this welding process may initially seem an advanced and unnecessarily costly alternative to conventional welding, the numerous benefits and the saving on additional operations for example, stress relieving, reduces the overall cost of producing the product. With process times reduced to a minimum, when applying the electron beam welding technique, Ravenscourt Engineering found the service increasingly favourable with clients and prospective clients.

An example is where Ravenscourt Engineering applied the welding process to engine components for helicopters. The tolerance band for depth of penetration is very tight and can cause variations between batches because of the procedure of melting the component material to fuse the elements. The coupon samples are split and then examined, measured and documented maximising the continuous quality and accuracy of the weld. Ravenscourt Engineering utilise both the Alpha stereo microscope and Vision ArchiVE software from Vision Engineering to inspect and measure coupon samples from the batches. The high resolution and clarity of the image allows for the inspection and measurement procedure to be quick and easy. With a combination of experience, technology and expertise, Ravenscourt Engineering is providing a proven fast and affective service. In turn this has encouraged clients to commission an increasing amount of their projects to this professional expanding company.