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Abrasive flow machining (AFM)

Abrasive Flow Machining (AFM) was developed in 1960s as a method to deburr, polish,
and radius difficult to reach surfaces like intricate geometries and edges by flowing a abrasive
laden viscoelastic polymer over them. Based on the application, three different types of machines
have been reported i.e, one way AFM, two way AFM and orbital AFM. Because of simplicity in
analyzing the physics, analysis of AFM process always refers to two way AFM. It uses two
vertically opposed hydraulic cylinders, which extrude medium back and forth through passage
formed by the workpiece and tooling. Abrasion occurs wherever the medium passes through the
highly restrictive passage. The key components of AFM process are the machine, tooling and
abrasive medium. Process input parameters such as extrusion pressure, number of cycles, grit
composition and type, tooling and fixture designs have impact on AFM output responses (such
as surface finish and material removal).

AFM is capable to produce surface finish (Ra) as good as 0.05 m, deburr holes as small
as 0.2 mm and radius edges from 0.025 mm to 1.5mm. AFM has wide range of applications in
industries such as aerospace, medical, electronics, automotive, precision dies and moulds as a
part of their manufacturing activities. For better surface integrity, texture and its performance,
continuous developments are taking place for modifying the existing AFM process technology
and AFM machine configuration. To overcome some of the draw backs such as low finishing rate
and inability to correct the form geometry, researchers have proposed various versions of AFM
machines abbreviated as M-AFM, DBGAFF, CFAAFM, spiral polishing and R-AFF.

1. Introduction

Abrasive flow machining (AFM) was developed by Extrude Hone Corporation, USA in
1960. There are

three types of AFM machines that have been reported in the literature: one way AFM , two way
AFM and orbital AFM . Commonly used AFM is Two-way AFM in which two vertically
opposed cylinders extrude
medium back and forth through passages formed by the workpiece and tooling.

AFM is used to deburr, radius and polish difficult to reach surfaces by extruding an
abrasive laden

polymer medium with very special rheological properties. It is widely used finishing process to

complicated shapes and profiles. The polymer abrasive medium which is used in this process,

possesses easy flowability, better self deformability and fine abrading capability. Layer thickness
of the

material removed is of the order of about 1 to 10 m. Best surface finish that has been achieved
is 50 nm

and tolerances are +/- 0.5 m. In this process tooling plays very important role in finishing of

however hardly any literature is available on this () of the process. In AFM, deburring, radiusing

polishing are performed simultaneously in a single operation in various areas including normally

inaccessible areas. It can produce true round radiieven on complex edges. AFM reduces surface

roughness by 75 to 90 percent on cast and machined surfaces. It can process dozens of holes or

passage parts simultaneously with uniform results. Also air cooling holes on a turbine disk and

of holes in a combustion liner can be deburred and radiused in a single operation. AFM

flexibility and jobs which require hours of highly skilled hand polishing can be processed in a
few minutes;
AFM produces uniform, repeatable and predictable results on an impressive range of finishing

Important feature which differentiates AFM from other finishing processes is that it is possible to
control and

select the intensity and location of abrasion through fixture design, medium selection and process
parameters. It has applications in many areas such as aerospace, dies and moulds, and
automotive industries.

2. Classification of AFM machine

As mentioned earlier, AFM machines are classified into three categories: one way AFM, two
way AFM and orbital AFM. A brief discussion of the same is given below.

One way AFM process

One way AFM process [1] apparatus is provided with a hydraulically actuated reciprocating
piston and an extrusion medium chamber adapted to receive and extrude medium
unidirectionally across the internalsurfaces of a workpiece having internal passages formed
therein, as shown in Fig.2.

Fixture directs the flow of the medium from the extrusion medium chamber into the internal
passages of the workpiece, while a medium collector collects the medium as it
extrudes out from the internal passages. The extrusion medium chamber is provided with an
accessport to periodically receive medium from the collector into extrusion medium chamber.

The hydraulically actuated piston intermittently withdraws from its extruding position to open
the extrusion medium chamber access port to collect the medium in the extrusion medium
chamber. When the extrusion medium chamber is charged with the working medium, the
operation is resumed.

Two-way AFM process

Two way AFM machine [2] has two hydraulic cylinders and two medium cylinders. The medium
is extruded, hydraulically or mechanically, from the filled chamber to the empty chamber via
the restricted passageway

through or past the workpiece surface to be abraded (Fig.1).

Fig.1. Principle of material removal mechanism in two way AFM process

Typically, the medium is extruded back and forth between the chambers for the desired fixed
number of cycles. Counter bores, recessed areas and even blind cavities can be finished by using
restrictors or mandrels to direct the medium flow along the surfaces to be finished.

Orbital AFM process

In orbital AFM, the workpiece is precisely oscillated in two or three dimensions within a slow
flowing pad of compliant elastic/plastic AFM medium.

In Orbital AFM, surface and edge finishing are achieved by rapid, low-amplitude, oscillations
of the workpiece relative to a self-forming elastic plastic abrasive polishing tool. The tool is a
pad or layer of abrasive-laden elastic plastic medium (similar to that used in two way abrasive
flow finishing), but typically higher in viscosity and more in elastic.

Fig.3. Orbital AFM (a) before start of finishing, (b) while finishing

Orbital AFM concept is to provide translational motion to the workpiece. When workpiece with
complex geometry translates, it compressively displaces and tangentially slides across the
compressed elastic plastic self-formed pad (layer of visco elastic abrasive medium) which is
positioned on the surface of a displacer which is roughly a mirror image

of the workpiece, plus or minus a gap accommodating the layer of medium and a clearance. A
small orbital oscillation (0.5 to 5 mm) circular eccentric planar oscillation is applied to the
workpiece so that, at any point in its oscillation, a portion of its surface bumps into the medium
pad, elastically compresses (5 to 20%) and slides across the medium as the workpiece moves
along its orbital oscillation path. As the circular eccentric oscillation continues, different portions
of the work piece slide across the medium.
Orbital AFM can be applied to many different workpieces from many different industries from
precision ground aerospace components to cast aluminum wheels. Coining dies used to make
proof coins can be polished from a 0.5 m before surface to an amazing 0.01 m after finish
after only seven minutes of Orbital AFM processing. Orbital AFM is

used to produce extremely fine finishes on the complex geometry of prosthetic devices while
maintaining critical dimensional tolerances. Beverage container blow molds are finished using
the Orbital AFM process dramatically reducing polishing costs while, at the same time,
improving consistency, increasing production rates, and reducing the need for skilled labor.

4. Application of AFM

4.1 Automotives

The demand for this process is increasing among car and two wheeler manufacturers as it is
capable to make the surfaces smoother for improved air flow and better performance. AFM
process is used to enhance the performance of high-speed automotive engines. AFM process is
capable to finish automotive and medical parts, and turbine engine components.

Internal passages within a turbine engine diffuser are polished to increase air flow to the
combustion chamber of the engine. The rough, power robbing cast surfaces are improved from
80-90% regardless of surface complexities.

4.2 Dies and Moulds

Since in the AFM process, abrading medium conforms to the passage geometry, complex shapes
can be finished with ease. Dies are ideal workpieces for the AFM process as they provide the
restriction for medium flow, typically eliminating fixturing requirements. The uniformity of
stock removal by AFM permits accurate 'sizing' of undersized precision die passages. The
original 2m Ra (EDM finish) is improved to 0.2m with a stock removal of (EDM recast layer)
0.025mm per surface.

5. Concluding remarks

AFM is a well established advanced finishing process capable of meeting the diverse finishing
requirements from various sectors of applications like aerospace, medical and automobile. It is
commonly applied to finish complex shapes for better surface roughness values and tight
tolerances. But the major disadvantage of this process is low finishing rate. So

continuous efforts are being made to increase finishing rate, improve surface texture and to some
extend to improve MRR. To achieve an accurate and efficient finishing operation without
compromising the finishing performance, understanding of inter relationship between various
input parameters and output responses that influence the process

performance. This leads to identification of various optimal finishing conditions from the infinite
number of combinations and their modelling. The better performance is achieved if the process is
monitored online. So, acoustic emission technique is tried to monitor the surface finish and
material removal but ended with only marginal improvement. Later various modelling
techniques (mathematical, analytical and empirical) are used to model this process to correlate
with experimental results. To overcome the disadvantages of the process, many modifications
(MAFM, CFAAFM, DBGAFF, R-AFF and spiral polishing method) have been tried. But in
spiral polishing, CFAAFM and DBGAFF processes, the probability of role of additional tooling
which is at the middle of the slug has less influence on the finishing direction of active abrasive
grain. But later this problem is solved by rotating the workpiece itself. It makes the active
abrasive grains to follow helical path, which improves the contact length of the active abrasive
grain with

workpiece. In R-AFF process, better improvement in surface roughness is achieved compared to

AFM and

takes lesser time to achieve same surface finish that can be achieved through AFM process.

Magnetic Abrasive Finishing (MAF)

Magnetic Abrasive Finishing (MAF) is a process in which a mixture of non-

ferromagnetic abrasives and ferromagnetic iron particles is used to do particles in the mixture are
magnetically energized using a magnetic field.

The iron particles form a lightly rigid matrix in which the abrasives are trapped. This is
called Flexible Magnetic Abrasive Brush (FMAB), which when given relative motion against a
metal surface, polishes that surface.

The major studies concerning MAF have been done regarding the behaviors of the
process under the effect of various parameters like working gap, mesh number of abrasive, speed
of relative motion on cylindrical and flat work-pieces taking one type of material, non-
ferromagnetic or ferromagnetic only.

But limited comparative study by taking stainless steel with ferromagnetic behavior has
been done to analyze the surface roughness that is generated during the process.

Magnetic abrasives are emerging as important finishing methods for metals and ceramics.
Magnetic Abrasive Finishing is one such unconventional finishing process developed recently to
produce efficiently and economically good quality finish on the internal and external surfaces of
tubes as well as flat surfaces made of magnetic or non-magnetic materials. In this process,
usually ferromagnetic particles are sintered with fine abrasive particles (Al2O3, SiC, CBN or
diamond) and such particles are called ferromagnetic abrasive particles (or magnetic abrasive
particles). However, homogeneously mixed loose ferromagnetic and abrasive particles are also
used in certain applications. Fig. shows a Plane MAF process in which finishing action is

generated by the application of magnetic field across the gap between workpiece surface and
rotating electromagnet pole. The enlarged view of finishing zone in Fig. shows the forces acting
on the work surface to remove material in the form of chips.

Force due to magnetic field is responsible for normal force causing abrasive penetration inside
the workpiece while rotation of the magnetic abrasive brush (i.e. North pole) results in material
removal in the form of chips.

The magnetic abrasive grains are combined to each other magnetically between magnetic poles
along a line of magnetic force, forming a flexible magnetic abrasive brush. MAF uses this
magnetic abrasive brush for surface and edge finishing. The magnetic field retains the powder in
the gap, and acts as a binder causing the powder
to be pressed against the surface to be finished. 3D minute and intricately curved shape can also
be finished along its uneven surface. Controlling the exciting current of the magnetic coil
precisely controls the machining force of the magnetic abrasives on the work piece.

Fig. 4: Plane Magnetic abrasive finishing

Since the magnitude of machining force caused by the magnetic field is very low but
controllable, a mirror like surface finish (Ra value in the range of nano-meter) is obtained. In
MAF, mirror finishing is realized and burrs are removed without lowering the accuracy of the
shape. These fine finishing technologies using magnetic

abrasives have a wide range of applications. The surface finishing, deburring and precision
rounding off the workpiece can be done simultaneously. MAF can be used to perform operations
as polishing and removal of thin oxide films from high speed rotating shafts. Shinmura have
applied MAF to the internal surface of work

pieces such as vacuum tubes and sanitary tubes. Fig. shows the magnetic abrasive jet finishing
of internal surface of a hollow cylindrical workpiece. It's a variant of MAF process in which
working fluid mixed

with magnetic abrasives is jetted into the internal surface of the tube, with magnetic poles being
provided on the external surface of the tube. The magnetic abrasives in the jet mixed with fluid
are moved to the internal surface by magnetic force, where the magnetic abrasives finish the
internal surface effectively and precisely.

Fig. 5: Magnetic abrasive jet finishing

Fig. shows a schematic of a typical MAF process in which the workpiece to be machined is
located between two magnetic poles. The gap between the workpiece and the pole is filled with a
magnetic abrasive powder. The magnetic abrasive grains are linked to each other magnetically
between the north and south magnetic poles along the lines of magnetic force, forming a flexible
2-5 mm long magnetic brush. MAF uses this magnetic abrasive brush for surface and edge
finishing. The magnetic field retains the powder in gaps, and acts as a binder causing the powder
to be pressed against the surface to be finished [15]. A rotary motion is provided to cylindrical
workpiece, such as ceramic bearing rollers between magnetic poles. Also axial vibratory motion
is introduced in the magnetic field by the oscillating motion of magnetic poles to accomplish
surface and edge

finishing at faster rate and better quality. The process is highly efficient and the removal rate and
finishing rate

depends on the workpiece circumferential speed, magnetic flux density, working clearance,
workpiece materials, and size, type and volume fraction of abrasives. The exciting current of the
magnetic coil precisely controls the machining force transferred through magnetic abrasives on
the work piece.
Laser Beam Machining (LBM)

Laser beam have wide industrial applications including some of the machining processes.
A laser is an optical transducer that converts electrical energy into a highly coherent light beak.
One must know the full name of laser, it stands for light amplification of stimulated emission of
radiation. Laser being coherent in nature has a specific property, if it is focused by conventional
optical lenses can generate high power density.

Working Principle of LBM

LBM uses the light energy of a laser beam to remove material by vaporization and
ablation. The working principle and the process details (setup) are indicated in Figure.

Figure: Working Principle and Process Details of LBM

In this process the energy of coherent light beam is focused optically for predecided
longer period of time. The beam is pulsed so that the released energy results in an impulse
against the work surface that does melting and evaporation. Here the way of metal removing is
same as that of EDM process but method of generation of heat is different. The application of
heat is very finely focused in case of LBM as compared to EDM.

Process Details of LBM

Process details of LBM are shown in line diagram shown in Figure 5.6,description of the
details is given below.

Laser Tube and Lamp Assembly

This is the main part of LBM setup. It consists of a laser tube, a pair of reflectors, one at
each end of the tube, a flash tube or lamp, an amplification source, a power supply unit and a
cooling system. This whole setup is fitted inside a enclosure, which carries good quality
reflecting surfaces inside. In this setup the flash lamp goes to laser tube, that excites the atoms of
the inside media, which absorb the radiation of incoming light energy. This enables the light to
travel to and fro between two reflecting mirrors. The partial reflecting mirror does not reflect the
total light back and apart of it goes out in the form of a coherent stream of monochromatic light.
This highly amplified stream of light is focused on the workpiece with the help of converging
lense. The converging lense is also the part of this assembly.


The range of workpiece material that can be machined by LBM includes high hardness
and strength materials like ceramics, glass to softer materials like plastics, rubber wood, etc. A
good workpiece material high light energy absorption power, poor reflectivity, poor thermal
conductivity, low specific heat, low melting point and low lotent heat.

Cooling Mechanism

A cooling mechanism circulates coolant in the laser tube assembly to avoid its over
heating in long continuous operation.

Tool Feed Mechanism

There is no tool used in the LBM process. Focusing laser beam at a pre-decided point in
the workpiece serve the purpose of tool. As the requirement of being focused shifts during the
operation, its focus point can

also be shifted gradually and accordingly by moving the converging lense in a controlled manner.
This movement of the converging lense is the tool feed mechanism in LBM process.

Cutting and Accuracy Description

Generation of the laser beam involves stimulating a lasing material by electrical

discharges or lamps within a closed container. As the lasing material is stimulated, the beam is
reflected internally by means of a partial mirror, until it achieves sufficient energy to escape as a
stream of monochromatic coherent light. Mirrors or fiber optics are typically used to direct
the coherent light to a lens, which focuses the light at the work zone. The narrowest part of the
focused beam is generally less than 0.0125 in (0.3175 mm). in diameter. Depending upon
material thickness, kerf widths as small as 0.004 in (0.1016 mm) are possible.[4] In order to be
able to start cutting from somewhere else than the edge, a pierce is done before every cut.
Piercing usually involves a high-power pulsed laser beam which slowly makes a hole in the
material, taking around 515 seconds for 12-inch-thick (13 mm) stainless steel, for example.

The parallel rays of coherent light from the laser source often fall in the range between
1/16 inch to 1/2 inch (1.5875 mm to 12.7 mm) in diameter. This beam is normally focused and
intensified by a lens or a mirror to a very small spot of about 0.001 inch (0.0254 mm) to create a
very intense laser beam. In order to achieve the smoothest possible finish during contour cutting,
the direction of beam polarization must be rotated as it goes around the periphery of a contoured
workpiece. For sheet metal cutting, the focal length is usually between 1.5 inches and 3 inches
(38.1 mm and 76.2 mm).

There are many different methods in cutting using lasers, with different types used to cut
different material. Some of the methods are vaporization, melt and blow, melt blow and burn,
thermal stress cracking, scribing, cold cutting and burning stabilized laser cutting.

Applications of LBM
LBM is used to perform different machining operations like drilling, slitting, slotting,
scribing operations. It is used for drilling holes of small diameter of the order of 0.025 mm. It is
used for very thin stocks. Other applications are listed below :

(a) Making complex profiles in thin and hard materials like integrated circuits and printed circuit
boards (PCBS).

(b) Machining of mechanical components of watches.

(c) Smaller machining of very hard material parts.

Advantages of LBM

(a) Materials which cannot be machined by conventional methods are machined by LBM.

(b) There is no tool so no tool wear.

(c) Application of heat is very much focused so rest of the workpiece is least affected by the heat.

(d) Drills very find and precise holes and cavities.

Disadvantages of LBM

Major disadvantages of LBM process are given below :

(a) High capital investment is involved. Operating cost is also high.

(b) Recommended for some specific operations only as production rate is very slow.

(c) Cannot be used comfortably for high heat conductivity materials light reflecting materials.

(d) Skilled operators are required.

Plasma Arc Machining (PAM)

It is also one of the thermal machining processes. Here the method of heat generation is
different than EDM and LBM.

Working Principle of PAM

In this process gases are heated and charged to plasma state. Plasma state is the
superheated and electrically ionized gases at approximately 5000oC. These gases are directed on
the workpiece in the form of high velocity stream. Working principle and process details are
shown in Figure.

Figure : Working Principle and Process Details of PAM

Process Details of PAM

Details of PAM are described below.

Plasma Gun

Gases are used to create plasma like, nitrogen, argon, hydrogen or mixture of these gases.
The plasma gun consists of a tungsten electrode fitted in the chamber. The electrode is given
negative polarity and nozzle of the gun is given positive polarity. Supply of gases is maintained
into the gun. A strongarc is established between the two terminals anode and cathode. There is a
collision between molecules of gas and electrons of the established arc. As a result of this
collision gas molecules get ionized and heat is evolved. This hot and ionized gas called plasma is
directed to the workpiece with high velocity. The established arc is controlled by the supply rate
of gases.

Power Supply and Terminals

Power supply (DC) is used to develop two terminals in the plasma gun. A tungsten
electrode is inserted to the gun and made cathode and nozzle of the gun is made anode. Heavy
potential difference is applied across the electrodes to develop plasma state of gases.

Cooling Mechanism

As we know that hot gases continuously comes out of nozzle so there are chances of its
over heating. A water jacket is used to surround the nozzle to avoid its overheating.


There is no direct visible tool used in PAM. Focused spray of ho0t, plasma state gases
works as a cutting tool.


Workpiece of different materials can be processed by PAM process. These materials are
aluminium, magnesium, stainless steels and carbon and alloy steels. All those material which can
be processed by LBM can also be processed by PAM process.

Applications of PAM

The chief application of this process is profile cutting as controlling movement of spray
focus point is easy in case of PAM process. This is also recommended for smaller machining of
difficult to machining materials.

Advantages of PAM Process

Advantages of PAM are given below :

(a) It gives faster production rate.

(b) Very hard and brittle metals can be machined.

(c) Small cavities can be machined with good dimensional accuracy.

Disadvantages of PAM Process

(a) Its initial cost is very high.

(b) The process requires over safety precautions which further enhance the initial cost of the

(c) Some of the workpiece materials are very much prone to metallurgical changes on excessive
heating so this fact imposes limitations to this process.

(d) It is uneconomical for bigger cavities to be machined.

Chemical Machining Processes (CHM)

Chemical machining is one of the non-conventional machining processes where material

is removed by bringing it in contact of a strong chemical enchant. There are different chemical
machining methods base on this like chemical milling, chemical blanking, photochemical
machining, etc.

Working Principle of CHM

The main working principle of chemical machining is chemical etching. The part of the
workpiece whose material is to be removed, is brought into the contact of chemical called
enchant. The metal is removed by the chemical attack of enchant. The method of making contact
of metal with the enchant is masking. The portion of workpiece where no material is to be
removed, is mashed before chemical etching.

Process Details of CHM

Following steps are normally followed in the process of CHM :


The first step of the process is a cleaning of workpiece, this is required to ensure that
material will be removed uniformly from the surfaces to be processed.


Masking is similar to masking action is any machining operation. This is the action of
selecting material that is to be removed and another that is not to be removed. The material
which is not to be removed is applied with a protective coating called maskant. This is made of a
materials are neoprene, polyvinylchloride, polyethylene or any other polymer. Thinkers of
maskent is maintained upto 0.125 mm. The portion of workpiece having no application of
maskent is etched during the process of etching.


In this step the material is finally removed. The workpiece is immersed in the enchant
where the material of workpiece having no protective coating is removed by the chemical action
of enchant. Enchant is selected depending on the workpiece material and rate of material
removal; and surface finish required. There is a necessity to ensure that maskant and enchant
should be chemically in active. Common enchants are H2SO4, FeCL3, HNO3. Selection of
enchant also affects MRR. As in CHM process, MRR is indicated as penetration rates (mm/min).


After the process is completed demasking is done. Demasking is an act of removing

maskent after machining.

Application of CHM

The application and working of CHM process are indicated in Figure, various
applications of CHM are discussed below.

Chemical Milling

It is widely used in aircraft industry. It is the preparation of complicated geometry on the

workpiece using CHM process.

Figure : Application and Working of CHM

Chemical Blanking
In this application cutting is done on sheet metal workpieces. Metal blanks can be cut
from very thin sheet metal, this cutting may not be possible by conventional methods.

Photochemical Machining

It is used in metal working when close (tight) tolerances and intricate patterns are to be
made. This is used to produce intricate circuit designs on semiconductor wafers.

Advantages of CHM

Advantages of CHM process are listed below :

(a) Low tooling cost.

(b) Multiple machining can be done on a workpiece simultaneously.

(c) No application of force so on risk of damage to delicate or low

strength workpiece.

(d) Complicated shapes/patterns can be machined.

(e) Machining of hard and brittle material is possible.

Disadvantages and Limitations of CHM

(a) Slower process, very low MRR so high cost of operation.

(b) Small thickness of metal can be removed.

(c) Sharp corners cannot be prepared.

(d) Requires skilled operators.

Electron Beam Welding

A tungsten cathode which has been heated under vacuum emits electrons by thermal
emission. The heating of the tungsten cathode may be carried out directly - by filament current
- or indirectly - as, for example, by coiled filaments. The electrons are accelerated by high
voltage between the cathode and the pierced anode. A modulating electrode, the so called
Wehnelt cylinder, which is positioned between anode and cathode, regulates the electron flow.
Dependent on the height of the cut-off voltage between the cathode and the modulating
electrode, is a barrier field which may pass only a certain quantity of electrons. The application
of highly accelerated electrons as a tool for material processing in the fusion, drilling and
welding process and also for surface treatment has been known since the Fifties. Ever since, the
electron beam welding process has been developed from the laboratory stage for particular
In this case, these materials could not have been joined by any industrially applied high
production joining method. The electron beam welding machine is made up of three main
components: beam generation, beam manipulation and forming and working chamber. These
components may also have separate vacuum systems, Figure 1.

Fig.1 Operation of Electron Beam Welding

form of an electron cloud. Due to its particular shape which can be compared to a concave
mirror as used in light optic, the Wehnelt cylinder also effects, besides the beam current
adjustment, the electrostatic focussing of the electron beam. The electron beam which diverges
after having passed the pierced anode, however, obtains the power density which is necessary
for welding only after having passed the adjacent alignment and focussing system. One or
several electromagnetic focussing lenses bundle the beam onto the workpiece inside the
vacuum chamber. A deflection coil assists in maintaining the electron beam oscillating motion.
An additional stigmator coil may help to correct aberrations of the lenses. A viewing
optic or a video system allows the exact positioning of the electron beam onto the weld groove.
The core piece of the electron beam welding machine is the electron beam gun where the
electron beam is generated under high vacuum. The tightly focussed electron beam diverges
rapidly under atmospheric pressure caused by scattering and ionisation development with air.
As it would, here, loose power density and efficiency, the welding process is, as a rule, carried
out under medium or high vacuum. The necessary vacuum is generated in separate vacuum
pumps for working chamber and beam gun. A shut-off valve which is positioned between
electron gun and working chamber serves to maintain the gun vacuum while the working
chamber is flooded. In universal machines, the workpiece manipulator assembly inside the
vacuum chamber is a slide with working table positioned over NC controlled stepper motors. For
workpiece removal, the slide is moved from the vacuum chamber onto the workpiece platform. A
distinction is made between electron beam machines with vertical and horizontal beam
manipulation systems.
The energy conversion in the workpiece, which is schematically shown in Figure 9.3,
indicates that the kinetic energy of the highly accelerated electrons is, at the operational point,
not only converted into the heat necessary for welding, but is also released by heat radiation and
heat dissipation. Furthermore, a part of the incident electrons (primary electrons) is subject
to backscatter and by secondary processes the secondary electrons are emitted from the
workpiece thus generating X-rays. The impact of the electrons, which are tightly focussed into a
corpuscular beam, onto the workpiece surface stops the electrons; their penetration depth into the
workpiece is very low, just a few m. Most of the kinetic energy is released in the form of heat.
The high energy density at the impact point causes the metal to evaporate thus allowing the
following electrons a deeper penetration. This finally leads to a metal vapour cavity which is
surrounded by a shell of fluid metal, covering the entire weld depth. This deep-weld effect allows
nowadays penetration depths into steel materials of up to 300 mm, when modern high vacuum-
high voltage machines are used. The diameter of the cavity corresponds approximately with the
beam diameter. By a relative motion in the direction of the weld groove between workpiece and
electron beam the cavity penetrates through the material. At the front side of the cavity new
material is molten which, to some extent, evaporates, but for the most part flows around the
cavity and rapidly solidifies at the backside. In order to maintain the welding cavity open, the
vapour pressure must press the molten metal round the vapour column against the cavity walls,
by counteracting its hydrostatic pressure and the surface tension.

Advantages of EBW

Disadvantages of EBW
EBW Fields of Application
Electron Beam Lithography

Many light-based nanotechnology measuring and fabricating tools are limited by the
wavelength of light. However, the smaller the wavelength of light, the higher the energy of the
light, which can subsequently cause unwanted side effects. One way scientists get around this is
to use electrons instead of light. Enter E-beam lithography. Basically, E-beam lithography
consists of shooting a narrow, concentrated beam of electrons onto a resist coated substrate.
Electrons can induce the deposition of substances onto a surface (additive), or etch away at the
surface (subtractive).

E-beam lithography is particularly important in micro electronics, which require

extremely precise placement of micro sized circuit elements. E-beam lithography allows
scientists to design and place elements at the smallest possible scale. Also, electrons can be used
to etch a mask whose patterns can be later transferred onto a substance using other techniques
(think of a stencil you used in grade school). However, with such precision, components can
only be made very slowly and only one at a time, greatly increasing the time and cost and
prohibiting mass commercial acceptance.

Also, because electrons are charged particles, it is necessary to perform E-beam

lithography inside a vacuum, further complicating the required equipment and process.

E-beam Components

The process of E-beam lithography is simple, however, the schematics and the parts
required are quite complex. Instead of understanding the process of E-beam lithography, it is
more efficient to understand some of the important components required for E-beam lithography
to work successfully.

Electron Gun: The centerpiece behind E-beam lithography is the electron gun. The specifics of
an electron gun could stretch pages, so it is sufficient to know that the electron gun is an
apparatus that is able to shoot a beam of electrons in a specific direction. Two common E-
beam emitters are lanthanum hexaboride crystal and a zirconium oxide coated tungsten needle.
The emitter is first heated to produce and excite electrons on the surface. Then, when a high
voltage is applied, the excited electrons accelerate towards a structure called the anode. By
varying this voltage, the trajectory and the focus of the beam can be manipulated.

Electron Optical Column: The electron optical column is a system of lenses that, by a
combination of electromagnetism and optics, has the ability to focus the electrons into a
concentrated beam in a desired direction. Two parallel plates inside the column can be
electrostatically charged to a precise degree; the resulting electric field is able to bend the beam
in a desired direction.

Surface: After the beam is directed and concentrated by the optical column, it is ready to be
focused on the surface. As with most lithography techniques, a substance called a photoresist
covers the surface. However, E-beam photoresists are not as specific as other types. Technically,
high energy electron bombardment will cause bond breakage in any polymer. When the beam
hits the surface, either an additive or subtractive reaction takes place. An additive writing
method uses the electrons to induce a deposition of a compound on the surface. Subtractive
writing methods use the e-beam to remove the sections of the resist and surface. This method is
common in creating masks for other lithographic techniques such as UV lithography.

Fig.2 Description of Surfaces

Scanning Methods

Raster Scan: The e-beam is swept across the entire surface, pixel by pixel, with the beam being
turned on and off according to the desired pattern. This method is easy to design and calibrate,
however, because the beam is scanned across the entire surface, sparse patterns take the same
amount of time to write as dense patterns, making this method inefficient for certain types of

Vector Scan: The e-beam jumps from one patterned area to the next, skipping unwanted areas.
This makes the vector scan much faster than the raster scan for sparse pattern writing.
Adjustments to the beam can also be made relatively easily. However, it takes longer for the
beam to settle, making it more difficult to maintain accurate placing for the beam.

Fig.3 Description of Scans


Electron Backscattering and Proximity effects: When electrons are subjected directly to a
surface, they tend to scatter quickly. This phenomenon, known as electron backscattering,
causes unwanted reactions to take place outside of the focused electron beam. As a result, the
resolution of an E-beam is not limited to only the size of the focused beam. In addition to
backscattering, the focused Ebeam hitting the surface produces secondary electrons, which can
expose the resist as much as several micrometers away from the point of exposure. These
proximity effects can cause critical variations when dealing with surfaces that need to be exact
on the sub-micro level.

Efficiency: While E-beam lithography is perhaps the most accurate and precise of all the
lithographic techniques, perfection comes at a high price. The complex equipment and slow
exposure times makes E-beam lithography impractical as a mass production micro
manufacturing method. Also, because electrons are charged particles, E-beam lithography must
be performed in a vacuum. Steps are being taken however, in customizing tools such as
scanning electron microscopes into having the ability to produce focused electron beams.