Electrolytic (or Electrochemical) Machining and Deburring (ECM/ECD) is a highly accurate, repeatable deburring and material finishing process for medium high volume, high value added applications.
ECM/ECD is a targeted metal dissolution process that applies an electrical current to the tooling and workpiece, while flowing an electrolyte between both surfaces to dissolve unwanted metal. Electrolytic deburring and surface polishing is capable of producing very tightly controlled edge radii, and surface finishes, down to 5 µinch (.012 micron) Ra.
ECM technology provides selective metal removal at a very high rate from workpiece areas defined by corresponding active areas on a formed tool. As an electrolytic solution is pumped over the workpiece surface, the process allows for a DC current to flow between the tool and the workpiece. The amount of material removed is determined by the amount of electrical current flowing between the negative tool and the positive workpiece. The tool most often is designed to have a mirror image of the final surface of the workpiece.
Electrolytic deburring uses stationary tooling to focus a deburring current on only those areas where a burr exists. Since the deburring tooling, known as a cathode, never touches the workpiece, there is virtually no tool wear in the process. Typical deburring times are extremely fast - 10-30 seconds for most applications. Depending on production requirements and the workpiece size, multiple part fixturing is used to obtain high production rates.
Components requiring edge radius conditions and other performance criteria often are produced most economically with the electrolytic process. Applications vary from full-contour radiusing (such as pinion gears) to a continuously varying radius as produced on conic surface intersections. Edge radii, measuring from a few thousandths of an inch to a few hundredths of an inch, can be produced repeatedly with cycle times of 30-90 seconds.
Electrolytic surface quality enhancement is applied to surfaces that are cast, machined, forged or EDM'd. Material removal ranging from 0.0005 inch to 0.01 inch with a 5-10 surface roughness improvement factor is realized in most applications. Typical applications include surgical implants, glass molds and various stainless steel components. Significant surface brightening usually accompanies smoothing of the surface texture. Surface finish often is an additional benefit of deburring as seen in many surgical components.
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