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Module-3: ADVANCED MATERIAL REMOVAL PROCESSES

Lecture No-16

Electro-Chemical Grinding

Electro-chemical grinding (ECG) is a variant process of the basic ECM. It is a


burr free and stress free material removal process, wherein material removal of
the electrically conductive material takes place through mechanical (grinding)
process and electro-chemical process. The abrasive laden grinding wheel is
negatively charged and the workpiece is positively charged. They are separated by
an electrolyte fluid. The fine chips of the material that is removed from the
workpiece (debris) stays in the electrolyte fluid, which is further filtered out.
Electrochemical grinding and electrochemical machining are similar processes
with a difference that a wheel substitutes the tool used in ECM. The wheel shape
is similar to the desired work shape. The schematic of the electrochemical
grinding is shown in fig. 3.16.1

Process of Grinding in ECM

The main feature of electrochemical grinding (ECG) process is the use of a


metallic grinding wheel which is embedded with insulating abrasive particles such
as diamond, set in the conducting material. Copper, brass, and nickel are the most
commonly used materials while aluminum oxide is a typical abrasive used while
grinding steels.

The commutator is an electrolytic spindle having carbon brushes and holds the
grinding wheel. It receives a negative charge from the DC power supply and the
workpiece is given a positive charge. In ECG process, the grinding wheel slightly
touches the workpiece. Electrolyte is supplied on-to the grinding wheel near the
workpiece such that the wheel carries it through the cutting process thereby
resulting in an electro-chemical action. A nozzle similar to the one which carries
coolant in a conventional grinding process is provided, which enables the flow of
the electrolytic fluid to the work-tool cont act area. Th e electrolyte along wi th wheel
wo rks simulta neously in t he process o f cutting. T he electro-c hemical cells thus
formed further oxidize the surface of th e workpiece. The wheel carries awa y the
formed oxides the reby exposing the fresh metal layers beneath the workpiece.

In this pr ocess of E CG, the maj or material removal activity takes place by th e
electrolytic action (around 90%). Rest of the metal removal takes pl ace due to th
e grinding action alo g with abrasives used (embedd ed in the wheel). This
mechanical action contributes to around 1 0% due to abrasive action of th e
conductin g grinding wheel. The pressure ap plied on the grinding wheel is als o
much les er than the conventional grinding process. Thus the very basic necessi ty
of frequent wheel dr essings and truing as in the case of conventio nal process is
also elimi nated.

The sche matic of the electrochem ical grinding process is shown in Fi g. 3.16.1
Process Characteristics

 The life of grinding wheel in ECG process is very high as around 90% of the
metal is removed by electrolysis action and only 10% is due to the abrasive
action of the grinding wheel.
 The ECG process is capable of producing very smooth and burr free edges
unlike those formed during the conventional grinding process (mechanical).
 The heat produced in the ECG process is much less, leading to lesser distortion
of the workpiece.
 The major material removal activity in ECG process occurs by the dissolving
action through the chemical process. There is very little tool and workpiece
contact and this is ideally suited for grinding of the following categories:
 Fragile work-pieces which otherwise are very difficult to grind by the
conventional process
 The parts that cannot withstand thermal damages and
 The parts designed for stress and burr free applications.

4.5.1 Surface Finishes Can Be Achieved With Electrochemical Grinding (Ecg)


The Electrochemical Grinding (ECG) process does not leave the typical shiny finish of abrasive
grinding. This is because there is no smearing of the metal as in conventional grinding. A 16
micro
inch finish or better can be achieved but it will have a matte (dull) rather than a polished look.
4.5.2. Materials Can Be Cut With Electrochemical Grinding (ECG)
Almost any conductive metal can cut with Electrochemical Grinding (ECG). Steel, Aluminum,
Copper, Stainless Steels, Inconel and Hastelloy cut very freely with Electrochemical Grinding
(ECG).
Nickel/Titanium, Cobalt alloys, Amorphous metals, Berilium, Berilium Copper, Iridium
Neodymium
Iron Boron, Titanium, Nickel/Titanium, Nitinol, Powdered Metals, Rene 41, Rhenium, Rhodium,
Stelllite, Vitalium, Zirconium and Tungsten can also be cut effectively.

Advantages of Electrochemical Grinding (ECG)

Improved wheel life


• Burr free
• No work hardening
• Stress free
• Better finis
• No cracking
• Less frequent wheel dressing
• No metallurgical damage from heat
• Faster for tough materials
• No wheel loading or glazing
• More precise tolerances

Applications

The applications of ECG process include the following:

 In production of tungsten carbide cutting tools.


 In burr-free sharpening of hypodermic needles.
 In grinding of super-alloy turbine blades.
 In form grinding of aerospace honeycomb metals.
 In removal of fatigue cracks from steel structures that have been used for
underwater applications.
The ECG process can be applied to the following common methods of grinding.

1. Face Wheel Grinding.


2. Cone Wheel grinding.
3. Peripheral or Surface grinding.
4. Form Wheel or Square grinding.