Continual progress in EB gun design has led to increased reliability and performance capabilities in a wide range of metal-processing activities.
The need to melt high melting-point metals, such as tantalum and tungsten, led to the development of an electron-beam (EB) melting method in 1907 by M. von Pirani (U.S. Patent No. 848,600). The invention contained the ideas of self- and work-accelerated guns and of single and multiple gun furnaces. There was no concern regarding the purity of the processed metal at time of the invention. The importance of his invention was not recognized for nearly five decades, and this year marks only the 50th anniversary of the true commercialization of the process by H. Smith. Today, electron-beam melting is the most important electron-beam application.