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CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 181184

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CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology


journal homepage: http://ees.elsevier.com/cirp/default.asp

Micro electrochemical machining for complex internal micro features


Chan Hee Jo a, Bo Hyun Kim b, Chong Nam Chu (2)a,*
a b

School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea School of Mechanical Engineering, Andong National University, Andong, Republic of Korea

A R T I C L E I N F O

A B S T R A C T

Keywords: Electrochemical machining (ECM) Micromachining Internal feature

In this paper, the application of micro electrochemical machining (ECM) for the micromachining of internal features is investigated. By controlling pulse conditions and machining time, micro features are machined on the side wall of a micro hole. These methods can easily machine a micro hole with larger internal diameters than the entrance diameter, which is very difcult to do by the conventional processes. A micro disk-shaped electrode with an insulating layer on its surface is also introduced to machine microgrooves inside the hole. This method is similar to the turning lathe process. The purpose of this study was to conrm the various possibilities of making complex internal structures in a micro hole by micro ECM. 2009 CIRP.

1. Introduction Micro holes are the most basic products of micro machining, and are widely used in many applications, including micro nozzles, bio-medical lters, and micro dies. The fabrication of simple micro holes is relatively easy, and utilizes many machining technologies, such as mechanical drilling, lasers, punching, and electrical discharging machining (EDM) [1]. Recently, however, the demand for micro holes with 3D shapes rather than simple cylindrical holes has increased. If the hole contains some micro features, or the holes shape is a reverse taper in which the internal size of the hole is larger than its opening, fabrication becomes difcult because of problems not only from the tool fabrication, but from the processes themselves [2]. Several studies have been conducted on internal structures such as reverse-tapered holes and grooves in a micro hole produced by using a customized tool electrode, in micro-EDM [2,3]. However, the tool electrode is not reusable because it is worn out during EDM. Since electrochemical machining (ECM) is a conductive materials removal process based on the electrochemical reaction of anode metals, tool wear is negligible [410]. Therefore, even a micro tool of complex shape can be reused. Since the working gap varies with pulse voltage or pulse duration, various hole shapes can be obtained with a single tool. 2. Tool electrode insulation Usually, in micro ECM drilling using a cylindrical tool electrode, a micro hole with a taper shape is obtained. This is because the dissolution occurs not only on the bottom of the tool, but on the side of the tool as well. During drilling, dissolution time at the entrance to the hole is much longer than that at the exit. Since the

machining gap increases with the machining time in ECM, a tapering side wall will result. In order to control the hole shape precisely, or to make internal features within the micro hole, the side dissolution should be prevented. For this purpose, in this study, insulation on the side of the electrode was used. When the side of the tool electrode is coated with an insulator, potential is charged only in the double layer of the tool bottom, which is not covered with the insulator. Therefore, dissolution does not occur along the tools side, and tapering is thereby prevented. Moreover, since dissolution is restricted only to the bottom of the tool, the dissolution rate is not affected by the immersion depth of the tool, while the machining rate is kept constant [11]. In ECM drilling with un-insulated tools, as the tool electrode moves downward, the area of the electrodeelectrolyte interface increases. Consequently, as the immersion area increases, the rising time of the double layer increases, and the dissolution rate (that is, the machining rate) gradually decreases. To utilize insulated electrodes for micro ECM, insulation material satises some indispensable requisites. First, it should be adhered well onto the surface of the tool electrode, which is usually made from metals. Since acid electrolytes are used in ECM, the insulation material must be resistant to the acid. To satisfy the above requisites, polystyrene as an adhesive and a tetrahydrofuran (THF) as a solvent are utilized. In addition, a pigment is added to aid visualization. Fig. 1 shows an SEM image of a section of the insulated electrode. The insulation thickness is about 3 mm. 3. Reverse taper 3.1. Characteristics of pulse on-time and machining gap The primary factors considered for taper machining are a minimum machining gap, a proper machining speed. In ECM, the pulse condition, tool size, concentration of electrolytes, and so on, determine the machining gap [8,11]. The pulse condition is one of

* Corresponding author. 0007-8506/$ see front matter 2009 CIRP. doi:10.1016/j.cirp.2009.03.072

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Fig. 3. Diameter and machining gap according to pulse duration.

Fig. 1. Sectional images of insulated tool electrode (tool: 34 mm, insulation layer: 3 mm).

the machining parameters that can be controlled during machining. In this experiment, only the pulse on-time is changed to achieve various diameters of micro holes. To estimate the machining gap, as shown in Fig. 2, micro holes with 20 mm depth were machined by using a 35 mm insulated electrode, and the hole sizes were measured. The feedrate was 0.1 mm/s. The period of pulse was 1 ms, and the applied pulse duration was 30 ns to 160 ns. Fig. 3 shows the relationship between the pulse on-time and the machining gap. The gure shows that the machining gap increases as the pulse on-time increases. Consequently, an increase in the machining gap offers the possibility of making a reverse-tapered hole by controlling the pulse duration. However, when the pulse ontime was longer than specic duration (160 ns for this experiment), the machined surface was rough, as seen in Fig. 2(d). 3.2. Reverse-tapered hole As the pulse on-time increases during machining, the machining gap increases. The use of an insulated electrode restricts the dissolution that occurs on the side of the electrode. As a result, if the pulse on-time increases during drilling, the machining gap increases at the bottom of the tool electrode, but the gap in the hole entrance does not increase. Therefore, a hole whose size becomes larger as the depth increases can be fabricated by this method.

Fig. 4. Reverse-tapered hole: (a) cross-sectional view, (b) hole entrance, (c) isometric view, (d) hole exit (tool 35 mm, pulse amplitude: 6 V, pulse on-time increased from 30 ns to 150 ns).

Fig. 4 shows a reverse-tapered hole, which was machined using an insulated tool electrode. The applied amplitude of pulse was 6 V, and pulse on-time was increased from 30 ns for the hole entrance to 150 ns for the hole exit. The workpiece was a 50 mm thick stainless steel plate. When the 35 mm insulated cylindrical electrode was used, the diameter of the entrance and exit were 45 mm and 63 mm, respectively. Similarly, a barrel-shaped hole can also be fabricated by controlling the pulse duration, as shown in Fig. 5. The pulse duration was increased, at a constant rate, from 30 ns to 150 ns for the middle section of the hole, and decreased from 150 ns to 30 ns in the rest of the hole. The applied pulses amplitude was 6 V. These results show that tool insulation and pulse control can make micro holes of various shapes.

Fig. 2. SEM images of pit according to pulse duration: (a) 30 ns, (b) 90 ns, (c) 120 ns, (d) 160 ns.

Fig. 5. Barrel-shaped hole (tool 35 mm, pulse amplitude: 6 V, variable pulse ontime).

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Fig. 6. Hole diameter and machining gap according to stationary time.

Fig. 8. Machining processes of disk electrode: (a) cylindrical electrode by WEDG, (b) disk electrode by EDM with plate electrode.

3.3. Spherical cavity The machining gap can be controlled not only by changing the pulse duration, but also by changing the dissolution time. Fig. 6 shows that the machining gap increases with increasing dissolution time. The control of dissolution time is used to make spherical cavities, as shown in Fig. 7. To make these cavities, an insulated tool electrode is moved downward to make a cylindrical hole of a few tens of micrometers in depth (30 ns pulse on-time). Then, the tool electrode was kept at this position for several minutes, with a long pulse on-time of 150 ns. In Fig. 7(a), the stationary time was 5 min and the diameter of the cavity was 58 mm. In Fig. 7(b), the stationary time was 20 min and the diameter of the cavity was 75 mm. 4. The fabrication of microgrooves in the micro hole 4.1. Fabrication of disk electrode To make micro features in a micro hole, a customized tool electrode such as a disk shape tool is needed. Wire electrical discharging grinding (WEDG) is commonly utilized to make a microelectrode. However, since WEDG uses wire as a tool, it is not easy to make a disk with a shaped edge. Thus, EDM with a plate electrode is used here to achieve a disk shape [2,8]. The process of disk electrode fabrication is shown in Fig. 8. After making a micro shaft using WEDG, the plate electrode was horizontally moved to the rod, and the disk shape was machined. A stainless steel plate of 300 mm thickness was used as the plate electrode. 4.2. Fabrication of micro grooves ECM with a disk electrode can produce an internal groove in the micro-structure because the ECM transcribes the shape of the electrode. The groove-machining process in the micro hole is shown in Fig. 9. The sequences are divided into drilling and grooving. The rst step of the process is to drill a hole in the workpiece. Then, the tool electrode is moved to the middle of the hole, and the electrode

Fig. 9. Schematic diagram of a groove made in the micro hole by using a disk electrode: (a) drilling, (b) eccentric layer-by-layer rotation for grooving.

eccentrically rotated. The distance between the axis of rotation and the axis of the hole is increased step-by-step to dissolve the surface layer-by-layer. A relatively long pulse on-time is used for drilling, and a short pulse on-time is used for grooving, because the material removal rate for drilling is higher than it is for grooving. The internal groove in the hole was fabricated as shown in Fig. 10. The dimensions of the groove were 30 mm deep and 33 mm high, and the diameter of the hole was 130 mm. A repeatable structure such as an array can be fabricated using one electrode, since there is no tool wear during ECM. This is the biggest advantage of ECM. Therefore, groove array can be manufactured with a single disk electrode in one micro hole. Fig. 11 shows the sectional image of the groove array in the micro

Fig. 7. Micro cavity machined by controlling dissolution time: (a) 5 min, (b) 20 min.

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Fig. 10. Groove in the micro hole.

Fig. 11. Groove array in the micro hole.

hole. The diameter of the hole is 130 mm. The depth and height of the groove are 30 mm and 33 mm, respectively. 5. Conclusion In ECM, the machining gap can be controlled by increasing or decreasing pulse on-time, pulse voltage, or machining time. By using this method, it is possible to control the diameter of the hole during drilling and to make the holes entrance size smaller than the inside. In this paper, reverse-tapered and barrel-shaped holes were fabricated. In order to prevent over-dissolution during the machining, the use of insulation on the electrode was suggested. To make an internal groove in the micro hole, a disk electrode was used. A groove array can also be fabricated, because there is no tool wear during ECM. References
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