In this study, a 3D numerical model was proposed that uses the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method to investigate molten pool formation in electron beam melting under different process parameters. Electron beam ray tracking was used to determine energy deposition in the powder bed model. The melt tracks obtained in this study can be divided into three categories: a balling pattern, distortion pattern and straight pattern. The 3D mesoscale model revealed that it is possible to obtain different molten pool temperature distributions, flow patterns and top surface morphologies using different process parameters. Detailed analysis was performed on the formation mechanism of both the balling defect and distortion pattern. The simulation results of the top surface morphology were also compared with experimental results and showed good agreement. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.