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Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

DOI 10.1007/s00170-010-2628-0

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Optimizing machining parameters of silicon carbide


ceramics with ED milling and mechanical grinding
combined process
Renjie Ji & Yonghong Liu & Yanzhen Zhang &
Baoping Cai & Hang Li & Jianmin Ma

Received: 6 December 2009 / Accepted: 15 March 2010 / Published online: 10 April 2010
# Springer-Verlag London Limited 2010

Abstract A novel combined process of machining silicon


carbide (SiC) ceramics with electrical discharge milling and
mechanical grinding is presented. The process is able to
effectively machine a large surface area on SiC ceramics
with a good surface quality. The effect of tool polarity on
the process performance has been investigated. The effects of
peak current, peak voltage, pulse on-time and pulse off-time
on the material removal rate (MRR), electrode wear ratio
(EWR), and surface roughness (SR) have been investigated
with Taguchi experimental design. The mathematical models
for the MRR, EWR, and SR have been established with the
stepwise regression method. The experiment results show that
the MRR, EWR, and SR can reach 46.2543 mm3/min,
20.7176%, and 0.0340 m, respectively, with each optimal
combination level of machining parameters.
Keywords Silicon carbide ceramics . Electric discharge
milling . Mechanical grinding . Taguchi method

1 Introduction
Taguchi method has been widely used in engineering
analysis and is a powerful tool to design a high quality
system. Moreover, Taguchi method employs a special design
of orthogonal array to investigate the effects of the entire
machining parameters through a small number of experiR. Ji : Y. Liu (*) : Y. Zhang : B. Cai : H. Li : J. Ma
School of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering,
China University of Petroleum,
Dongying,
Shandong 257061, China
e-mail: liuyh@hdpu.edu.cn
R. Ji
e-mail: jirenjie202@yahoo.cn

ments. Recently, the Taguchi method was widely employed in


several industrial fields and research works [13].
Silicon carbide (SiC) ceramics have been widely used in
optical mirror, accelerometer, refractories, electronic components, and in the biomedical, aerospace, and defense
industries due to its superior properties [48]. Reported
studies on machining SiC ceramics include electrical
discharge machining [911], electrical discharge milling
[1214], machining with diamond tools [1517], ultrasonic
machining [18, 19], plasma chemical vaporization machining
[20, 21], laser beam machining, etc. [22, 23]. However, the
literature review states that difficulty, high cost, and long
time associated with machining silicon carbide ceramics
limit the use of SiC in industry.
A compound machining process that integrates electrical
discharge milling and mechanical grinding to machine SiC
ceramics is proposed in this paper. The process employs the
pulse generator used in EDM and uses a water-based emulsion
as the machining fluid. It is able to effectively machine a large
surface area on SiC ceramics with a good surface quality. The
effect of tool polarity on the process performance has been
investigated. The effects of peak current, peak voltage, pulse
on-time and pulse off-time on the material removal rate
(MRR), electrode wear ratio (EWR), and surface roughness
(SR) have been investigated with Taguchi experimental
design. The mathematical models for the MRR, EWR, and
SR have been established with the stepwise regression method.

2 Principle for ED milling and mechanical grinding


of SiC ceramics
The principle for ED milling and mechanical grinding of
SiC ceramics is shown in Fig. 1. The tool and the
workpiece are connected to the positive and negative poles

196

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204


60

Steel tooth

Tool

Diamond stick

Machining fluid

pulse on-time 500s


pulse on-time 100s

40

Pulse
generator

MRR(mm /min)

+
_

Nozzle

50

30
20

Workpiece

10
NC table

Fig. 1 Schematic illustration for ED milling and mechanical grinding


of SiC ceramics

of the pulse generator, respectively. The tool is a steel


wheel with uniform-distributed diamond sticks in the
circumference and is mounted on to a rotary spindle, driven
by an AC motor. The workpiece is SiC ceramic blank and
is mounted on to a numerically controlled (NC) table. The
machining fluid is a water-based emulsion.
During machining, the tool rotates at a high speed; the
machining fluid is flushed into the gap between the tool and
the workpiece with a nozzle, the SiC ceramic workpiece is
fed towards the tool with NC table. As the workpiece
approaches the tool and the distance between the workpiece
and the steel tooth reaches the discharge gap, electrical
discharges are produced. The instantaneous high temperature and pressure plasma cause SiC ceramic to be removed
by electrical discharge milling, and a modified surface layer
is formed on the workpiece. The following diamond stick
grinds the modified layer. Electrical discharge milling and
mechanical grinding happen alternately and they are
mutually beneficial, so the high material removal rate and
good surface quality of machining SiC ceramic with the
combined process can be obtained.

Tool(+)

Tool(-)
Tool polarity

Fig. 2 Effect of tool polarity on MRR

bonded diamond sticks in the circumference, the diameter


of the tool was 210 mm, the tool width was 15 mm, the tool
rotational speed was 3,000 rpm, and the machining fluid
was a water-based emulsion with the concentration of
5% w/w emulsified oil. Surface roughness was measured by
a surface roughness tester. The MRR and electrode wear
were obtained through measuring the dimension of the
workpiece and the electrode before and after machining
with a micrometer. The microstructure of the SiC ceramic
was observed by a scanning electron microscope, equipped
with an energy dispersive spectrometer.
3.2 Experimental design
Peak current, peak voltage, pulse on-time, and pulse
off-time were chosen based on extensive literature
survey and pilot experimentation to investigate their
effects on MRR, EWR, and SR. Five levels of each
parameter were selected. Out of the standard orthogonal
arrays available in Taguchi design, a L25 orthogonal
array was selected for this work. The input machining

3 Experiments
250

3.1 Experimental procedures

pulse on-time 500s


pulse on-time 100s

Table 1 Input process parameters and their levels


Parameter

Peak current (A)


Peak voltage (V)
Pulse on-time (s)
Pulse off-time (s)

EWR(%)

200

In the following experiments, the workpiece material was


the SiC ceramic, the tool was a steel wheel with 20 resin-

150
100

Levels
L1

L2

L3

L4

L5

5
125
500
500

10
150
200
1,000

15
175
100
1,500

20
200
50
2,000

25
225
40
2,500

50
0
Tool(+)

Tool(-)
Tool polarity

Fig. 3 Effect of tool polarity on EWR

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

197

7
6

SR(m)

analysis of variance of the experimental data was done to


statistically evaluate the significance of each of the four
factors, and the mathematical models associated with MRR,
EWR, and SR were obtained with the stepwise regression
method.

pulse on-time 500s


pulse on-time 100s

4
3

4 Results and discussion

2
1

4.1 Effect of tool polarity on the process performance

0
Tool(+)

Tool(-)
Tool polarity

Fig. 4 Effect of tool polarity on SR

parameters and their levels used for the experimentation


were listed in Table 1.
To obtain applicable and practical predictive quantitative
relationships, it was necessary to model the machining
parameters and the process responses. In this investigation,

Tool polarity is a primary factor that affects the process


performance. The effects of tool polarity on MRR, EWR,
and SR are given in Figs. 2, 3, and 4, respectively, for a
pulse off-time of 500 s, peak voltage of 200 V, and peak
current of 25 A.
MRR with different tool polarities is given in Fig. 2. It
can be seen from Fig. 2 that under the same conditions, the
MRR in negative tool polarity is 1.3 to 1.5 times that with
positive tool polarity. EWR with different tool polarities is
given in Fig. 3. It can be seen from Fig. 3 that under the

Table 2 Orthogonal array L25 and observed values of MRR, EWR, and SR
Number of
experiment

Peak current
(A)

Peak voltage
(V)

Pulse on-time
(s)

Pulse off-time
(s)

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

25
5
10
15
20
20
25
5
10
15
15

200
225
125
150
175
150
175
200
225
125
225

40
40
40
40
40
50
50
50
50
50
100

500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
500

12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25

20
25
5
10
10
15
20
25
5
5
10
15
20
25

125
150
175
200
175
200
225
125
150
125
150
175
200
225

100
100
100
100
200
200
200
200
200
500
500
500
500
500

1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500

EWR
(%)

Ra
(m)

29.8357
10.6072
2.4969
9.1437
9.2394
15.6267
20.9576
9.3419
11.5631
5.0727
24.8431

111.1318
224.0948
145.6900
462.8930
550.9098
74.4758
89.9200
541.8753
340.8672
703.0043
33.9570

1.7830
0.2100
0.0424
0.1610
0.2080
1.6138
0.5600
0.0382
0.5808
0.0390
1.6162

6.2402
10.8952
3.9951
9.5140
11.6285
15.1933
20.8414
7.4034
5.4201
6.6315
11.5280
13.3308
15.1617
17.2362

543.7291
456.7630
480.2467
506.1038
360.5161
188.4517
267.5352
455.5948
635.6101
659.8523
478.2924
389.5091
121.2856
187.0896

0.3554
0.7820
0.6668
0.2540
1.2380
1.8194
1.4196
0.2060
0.0350
0.1410
0.8610
0.7030
1.0430
2.0600

MRR
(mm3/min)

198

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

Table 3 Results of the ANOVA and F test of MRR


Sum of
squares

Degree Variance

Peak current
310.1386 4
Peak voltage
415.7521 4
Pulse on-time
8.2442 4
Pulse off-time 237.6197 4
Error (e)
93.2163 8
Total
1064.9709 24

F0.05,n1,n2

6.6542a
8.9202a
0.1769
5.0982a

3.84
3.84
3.84
3.84

15
10

0
5

10

15

20

25

Peak current (A)

Significant parameter

(a) Effect of peak current on MRR

MRR (mm /min)

25
20
15
10
5
0
125

150

175

200

225

Peak voltage (V)

(b) Effect of peak voltage on MRR


25

same conditions the EWR in positive tool polarity is 1.3 to


1.9 times that with negative tool polarity. These phenomena
can be explained as follows. The tool rotates at a high speed
during machining, the discharge point transfer velocity
between the tool tooth and workpiece is very high, and the
continuance time of the discharge point between the certain
point of the tool tooth and the certain point of the
workpiece is very short. Because the mass of the electrons
is much smaller than that of positive ions, and they can be
accelerated quickly during a short time, the bombardment
effect by electrons is stronger than that by positive ions;
therefore, MRR is high in negative tool polarity, EWR is
high in positive tool polarity.
Figure 4 shows the influence of tool polarity on SR. It
can be seen from Fig. 4 that under the same conditions the
SR in negative tool polarity is 2.4 to 2.8 times that with
positive tool polarity. Because the bombardment effect by
positive ions is weaker than that by electrons, the craters on
the workpiece surface produced by positive ions are
shallow; therefore, the SR is low in positive tool polarity.
It can be seen from Figs. 2, 3, and 4 that under the same
conditions the lower SR can be obtained with positive tool
polarity, and the higher MRR, lower EWR can be obtained
with negative tool polarity. In order to get a better machined
surface, positive tool polarity is used in the following
experiments.

20

MRR (mm /min)

77.5346
103.9380
2.0610
59.4049
11.6520

F ratio

MRR (mm3/min)

Parameter

25

20
15
10
5
0
40

50

100

200

500

Pulse on-time (s)

(c) Effect of pulse on-time on MRR


25

The design matrix from the L25 orthogonal array based on


the Taguchi method, and the observed values of MRR,
EWR, and SR are given in Table 2. ANOVA analysis of the
experimental data is carried out to determine the significant
machining parameters and the optimal combination levels
of machining parameters associated with MRR, EWR, and

MRR (mm /min)

4.2 Analysis of Taguchi method


20
15
10
5
0
500

Fig. 5 Effects of machining parameters on MRR. a Effect of peak b


current on MRR. b Effect of peak voltage on MRR. c Effect of pulse
on-time on MRR. d Effect of pulse off-time on MRR

1000

1500

2000

2500

Pulse off-time (s)

(d) Effect of pulse off-time on MRR

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204


Table 4 Results of the ANOVA
assessment for the stepwise
regression model of MRR

199

Source

DF

Sum of squares

Mean square

F value

F0.001,5,26

Model
Error
Corrected total

5
26
31

10,159
200.0218
10,359.0218

2031.8786
7.6932

264.12

5.80

SR, respectively. The contribution of the machining


parameter is defined as significant if the calculated F ratio
values exceed F0.05,n1,n2, which is quoted from the Tables
for Statisticians [24].

F0.001,5,26, the mathematical relation between MRR and


machining parameters by using stepwise regression analysis
method is appropriate, and the following equation can be
obtained as follows:

4.2.1 Analysis of MRR

M 2:34221 1:316101  107 Ito2 4:821776  107 U 2 ti

The results of ANOVA and F test of MRR obtained from


the L25 array based on Taguchi method are presented in
Table 3. It can be seen from Table 3 that the peak voltage,
peak current, and pulse off-time have significant contribution
toward the machining characteristic of MRR.
The average values of MRR at levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of
the four input machining parameters are calculated to find
out the parameter effects. Effects of machining parameters
on MRR are shown in Fig. 5. It can be observed from Fig. 5
that the MRR increases with the increase of peak current,
peak voltage, and pulse on-time, respectively, and it
decreases with the increase of pulse off-time. There are
many reasons causing the phenomena. The single pulse
energy increases with an increase in peak current, peak
voltage, and pulse on-time, and the material removed by a
single pulse increases with the single pulse energy
increasing; therefore, the MRR increases. In addition, the
electrical discharge frequency decreases with an increase in
pulse off-time, and less materials could be removed in a
unit time, so the MRR decreases with the increase of pulse
off-time. The optimum machining parameters of the
combined process for MRR obtained from Fig. 5 are:
225 V peak voltage, 25 A peak current, 500 s pulse offtime, and 500 s pulse on-time.
The capability of the stepwise model to represent the
experimental data is assessed through the ANOVA. The
results of the ANOVA for the stepwise model of MRR are
shown in Table 4. As in this case, F is far greater than

Table 5 Results of the ANOVA


and F test of EWR

Parameter
Peak current
Peak voltage
Pulse on-time
Pulse off-time
Errore
Total

0:00003455IU 2  4:41172  107 Iti to  0:00000333IUto

1
where M is the material removal in a unit time (mm3/min), I
is the peak current (A), ti is the pulse on-time (s), U is the
peak voltage (V), to is the pulse off-time (s).
4.2.2 Analysis of EWR
Table 5 shows the results of ANOVA and F test of EWR
obtained from the L25 array based on Taguchi method. As
shown in this table, each F ratio is less than F0.05,n1,n2,
which means that there is no parameter having significant
contribution toward the machining characteristic of EWR.
The peak voltage and the pulse off-time are more
significant than other machining parameters.
Figure 6 depicts the effects of machining parameters on
average values of the EWR. The average values of EWR at
levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the four input machining
parameters are calculated to find out the parameter effects.
As shown in Fig. 6, the EWR decreases with the increase of
peak current and peak voltage, respectively, and it increases
with the increase of pulse on-time and pulse off-time,
respectively. There are many reasons causing the phenomena. It can be seen from Fig. 5 that the MRR increases with
the increase of peak current and peak voltage, respectively;
the thickness of a modified surface layer formed by

Sum of squares
171,929.8682
253,574.0637
31,462.4268
201,184.0726
320,740.3072
978,890.7385

Degree

Variance

F ratio

F0.05,n1,n2

4
4
4
4
8
24

42,982.4671
63,393.5159
7865.6067
50,296.0182
40,092.5384

1.0721
1.5812
0.1962
1.2545

3.84
3.84
3.84
3.84

200

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

Fig.

6 Effects of machining parameters on EWR. a Effect of peak


current on EWR. b Effect of peak voltage on EWR. c Effect of pulse
on-time on EWR. d Effect of pulse off-time on EWR

500

EWR (%)

400
300
200
100
0
5

10

15

20

25

Peak current (A)

(a) Effect of peak current on EWR


500

EWR (%)

400
300
200
100
0
125

150

175

200

225

Peak voltage (V)

(b) Effect of peak voltage on EWR


500

EWR (%)

400
300
200
100
0
40

50

100

200

500

Pulse on-time (s)

electrical discharge milling increases with the increase of


peak current and peak voltage, respectively; the grinding
force of the tool decreases, and the tool wear is low;
therefore, the EWR decreases. The thickness of a modified
surface layer formed by electrical discharge milling
decreases with the increase of pulse off-time, at the same
time the surface layer is grinded and some SiC ceramics are
grinded, the tool wear is high; therefore, the EWR
increases. The tool rotates at a high speed during
machining, the discharge point transfer velocity between
the tool tooth and workpiece is very high, and the
continuance time of the discharge point between the certain
point of the tool tooth and the certain point of the
workpiece is very short. Because the mass of the electrons
is much smaller than that of positive ions, and they can be
accelerated quickly during a short time, the bombardment
effect by electrons is stronger than that by positive ions; the
bombardment effect by electrons increases with the increase
of pulse on-time; therefore, the EWR increases with the
increase of pulse on-time. The optimum machining parameters of the combined process for EWR obtained from
Fig. 6 are: 225 V peak voltage, 500 s pulse off-time, 25 A
peak current, and 40 s pulse on-time.
The capability of the stepwise model to represent the
experimental data is assessed with the ANOVA. The results
of the ANOVA for the stepwise model of EWR are shown
in Table 6. It can be seen from this table that F is greater
than F0.001,6,25, so the mathematical relation between EWR
and machining parameters by using stepwise regression
analysis method is appropriate, and the following equation
is obtained as follows:
EW 249:12647 0:99225ti  0:00005418Iti2
1:47845  107 ti to2 2:909337  108 to3

(c) Effect of pulse on-time on EWR

0:01069I  0:00034373IU
3

500

where EW is the electrode wear ratio (%).

400
EWR (%)

300
200

Table 6 Results of the ANOVA assessment for the stepwise regression


model of EWR

100

Source

DF

Sum of
squares

Mean
square

Model
Error
Corrected Total

6
25
31

1,140,921
259,616
1,400,537

190,154
10,385

0
500

1000

1500

2000

2500

Pulse off-time (s)

(d) Effect of pulse off-time on EWR

F value

F0.001,6,25

18.31

5.46

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

201

Table 7 Results of the ANOVA and F test of SR


Sum of
squares

Degree

Peak current
Peak voltage
Pulse on-time
Pulse off-time
Errore
Total

2.3039
3.0031
0.9461
2.0219
1.0569
9.3319

4
4
4
4
8
24

Variance

F ratio

F0.05,n1,n2

0.5760
0.7508
0.2365
0.5055
0.1321

4.3599a
5.6831a
1.7905
1.9660

3.84
3.84
3.84
3.84

1.2
SR (m)

Parameter

1.5

0.9
0.6
0.3
0
5

10

15

20

25

Peak current (A)


Significant parameter

(a) Effect of peak current on SR


1.5

4.2.3 Analysis of SR
SR (m)

0.9
0.6
0.3
0
125

150

175

200

225

Peak voltage (V)

(b) Effect of peak voltage on SR


1.5

SR (m)

1.2
0.9
0.6
0.3
0
40

50

100

200

500

Pulse on-time (s)

(c) Effect of pulse on-time on SR


1.5
1.2
SR (m)

The results of ANOVA and F test of SR obtained from


the L25 array based on Taguchi method are presented
in Table 7. As shown in this table, peak voltage and
peak current have significant contribution toward the
SR.
The average values of SR at levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the
four input machining parameters are calculated to find out
the parameter effects. These parameter effects are shown in
Fig. 7. It can be seen from Fig. 7 that the SR increases with
the increase of peak current, peak voltage, and pulse ontime, respectively, and it decreases with the increase of
pulse off-time. There are many reasons causing these
phenomena. A single pulse energy increases with the
increase of pulse on-time, peak current, and peak voltage;
the crater generated by a single pulse on the machined
surface is deeper and larger; therefore, the SR increases.
There is more time to grind the modified surface layer on
the workpiece, clear the disintegrated particles from the
discharge gap, and enhance deionization function of the
dielectric with a longer pulse off-time; therefore, the SR is
low. The optimum machining parameters of the combined
process for SR obtained from Fig. 7 are: 125 V peak
voltage, 5 A peak current, 2,500 s pulse off-time, and
40 s pulse on-time.
The capability of the stepwise model to represent
the experimental data is assessed through the analysis
of variance. The results of the analysis of variance for
the stepwise model of SR are shown in Table 8. As
shown in Table 8, F is far greater than F0.001,5,27, so the
mathematical relation between SR and machining parameters by using stepwise regression analysis method is

1.2

0.9
0.6
0.3
0
500

1000

1500

2000

2500

Pulse off-time (s)

Fig. 7 Effects of machining parameters on SR. a Effect of peak b


current on SR. b Effect of peak voltage on SR. c Effect of pulse ontime on SR. d Effect of pulse off-time on SR

(d) Effect of pulse off-time on SR

202

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

Table 8 Results of the ANOVA


assessment for the stepwise
regression model of SR

Source

DF

Sum of squares

Mean square

F value

F0.001,5,27

Model
Error
Corrected Total

5
27
32

29.2193
3.0689
32.2882

5.8439
0.1137

51.41

5.73

appropriate, and the following equation can be obtained as


follows:
SR 1:69228  0:00148to 2:903972  107 to2
3:61472  109 ti2 to 0:00000110IU 2

8

1:233977  10 Uti to
where SR is the surface roughness (m).
4.2.4 Confirmation experiment
Table 9 shows the results of the confirmation experiment
using the optimal machining parameters. As shown in Table 9,
the MRR, EWR, and SR can reach 46.2543 mm3/min,
20.7176%, and 0.0340 m, respectively. The experimental
values agree well with predictions, and they are improved
significantly in comparison with the experimental values from
Table 2. Therefore, the experimental results confirm the
validity of the used Taguchi method for enhancing the
machining performance and optimizing the machining
parameters. The photograph of SiC ceramic workpiece of
finish machining with the compound process of ED milling
and mechanical grinding is shown in Fig. 8.
4.3 Microstructure character of SiC ceramic surface
machined by the combined process
The scanning electron microscope micrograph of the SiC
ceramic surface machined by the combined process of ED
milling and mechanical grinding is illustrated in Fig. 9, for
a peak current of 5 A, peak voltage of 125 V, pulse on-time

of 40 s, and pulse off-time of 2,500 s. As shown in


Fig. 9, a smooth surface with little craters and pockmarks is
obtained, which means that the material removal is
attributed mainly to the mechanical grinding under this
condition. Evident proof of the dominant grinding effect
can be found from the grinding marks covering the
machined surface, except for little craters and pockmarks
caused by EDM.
Figure 10 shows the elemental concentration of Si and
Fe measured from a line scan of EDS on a cross section of
the machined surface. The figure demonstrates that only a
little of Fe exists on the surface layer of the SiC ceramic
workpiece, while the presence of Fe is not observed in the
base SiC ceramic. This implies that some tool electrode
material only transfers to the workpiece surface and without
tool electrode material penetrating into the base workpiece
during the process.

5 Conclusions
1) The combined machining is able to effectively machine
a large surface area on SiC ceramic with a good surface
quality and low equipment cost. Using a water-based
emulsion as the machining fluid, harmful gas is not
generated during machining, and it shows a good
working environmental practice.
2) Under the same conditions, the lower surface roughness can be obtained with positive tool polarity, and the
higher material removal rate, lower relative electrode
wear ratio can be obtained with negative tool polarity.
In order to get a better machined surface, positive
polarity for the tool electrode should be used.

Table 9 Results of the confirmation experiment for compound process


Process performance

MRR(mm3/min)
EWR (%)
SR (m)

Optimal machining parameters


I (A)

U (V)

ti (s)

to (s)

25
25
5

225
225
125

500
40
40

500
500
2,500

Predicted

Experimental

Relative error (%)

46.9743
20.8055
0.0330

46.2543
20.7176
0.0340

1.5328
0.4225
2.9412

Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 51:195204

203

Fig. 8 Photograph of finish


machining surface of SiC
ceramic produced by the
compound process

3) The peak voltage, peak current, and pulse off-time have


significant contribution toward the machining characteristic of MRR associated with the combined process.
Moreover, the optimal combination levels of machining
parameters with maximized MRR of the combined
process on SiC ceramics are: 225 V peak voltage, 25 A
peak current, 500 s pulse off-time, and 500 s pulse
on-time.
4) There is no parameter having significant contribution
toward the machining characteristic of EWR, but peak
voltage and pulse off-time are more significant than
other machining parameters. Moreover, the optimal
combination levels of machining parameters with

Fig. 9 SEM micrograph of SiC ceramic workpiece machined by the


compound process

Fig. 10 Si and Fe distribution on cross section obtained by EDS

minimum EWR of the combined process on SiC


ceramics are: 225 V peak voltage, 500 s pulse offtime, 25 A peak current, and 40 s pulse on-time.
5) The peak voltage and peak current have significant
contribution toward the machining characteristic of
SR associated with the combined process. Moreover,
the optimal combination levels of machining parameters with minimum SR of the combined process
on SiC ceramics are: 125 V peak voltage, 5 A peak
current, 2,500 s pulse off-time, and 40 s pulse
on-time.
6) With each optimal combination level of machining
parameters, the MRR, EWR, and SR can reach
46.2543 mm3/min, 20.7176%, and 0.0340 m, respectively, which agree well with predictions. The experimental results confirm the validity of the used Taguchi
method for enhancing the machining performance and
optimizing the machining parameters.

Acknowledgements The work is partially supported by a grant from


Chinese National Natural Science Foundation (Grant No. 50675225)
and a grant from Department of Science & Technology of Shandong
Province (Grant No. 2006GG2204001).

204

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