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Chemical machining processes (CHM)

This process is also called etching. The part of the workpiece whose material is to be
removed is brought into the contact of chemical called enchant. The metal is removed by the
chemical attack of enchant. The portion of workpiece where no material is to be removed is
masked (maskant) before chemical etching. Chemical machining has been used where close
tolerances are required. The surface finish obtained by the process is of the order of 0.5 to 2

Common maskants used are neoprene, polyvinylchloride, polyethylene etc. Enchant is

selected depending on the workpiece material, rate of material removal and surface finish
required. Common enchants are H2SO4, Fe CL3, HNO3.
1. Different work can be done simultaneously.
2. No application of force so no risk of damage to delicate or low strength work-piece
3. Complicated shapes/patterns can be machined.
4. Machining of hard and brittle material is possible.
5. Low capital cost of equipment
6. Easy and quick design changes
7. The good surface quality
1. Difficult to get sharp corner
2. Difficult to machine thick material. Limited to thin layer removal
3. Slower process, very low MRR so high cost of operation.
4. Causes less dimensional accuracy
Common application
Creating shallow, wide cavities on plates, sheets, forgings and castings to reduce weight.
Chemical Blanking: Metal blanks can be cut from very thin sheet metal
Chemical Milling: is used in the aerospace industry to remove shallow layers of
material from large aircraft components.
Etching is used widely to manufacture integrated circuits and microelectromechanical
systems components, decorative ornaments, filters or strainers etc
Electrochemical machining (ECM)
In ECM, a dc voltage (10-25 V) is applied across the gap between a pre-shaped cathode tool
and an anode workpiece. The workpiece is dissolved by an electrochemical reaction to the
shape of the tool. ECM is the reverse of the electroplating. This process works on the
principle of Faraday‘s laws of electrolysis.
Tool is made cathode and kept in close proximity to the work-piece (anode) and current is
passed through the circuit. The electrolyte is continuously flowing through a hole in the tool
to the gap between the work piece and the tool surfaces. Material of work piece is removed by
anodic dissolution. At the anodic workpiece surface, metal is dissolved into metallic ions by
the deplating reaction, and thus the tool shape is copied into the workpiece. In ECM,
electrolyte is so chosen that there is no deposition on tool and shape of tool remains
unchanged. The machined surface takes the replica of tool shape

Dissolution reaction of iron (work material) in sodium chloride (NaCl) electrolyte

The result of electrolytic dissociation
Negatively charged anions: (OH)- and Cl- towards to anode,
Positively charged cations: H+ and Na+ towards to cathode.
At the anode:
Fe Fe 2e
Fe  2Cl  FeCl 2

Fe 2(OH ) Fe(OH ) 2
At the cathode, the reaction generates hydrogen gas
2H  2e  H 2
The outcome of these electrochemical reactions is that the iron ions combine with other ions
to precipitate out as iron hydroxide Fe (OH)2 and Fe Cl2 as sludge.
Water is used as base of electrolyte in ECM. Normally water soluble NaCl and NaNO3 are
used as electrolyte. Electrolyte facilitates are carrier of dissolved workpiece material. It is
recycled by a pump after filtration.
The main functions of the electrolytes in ECM are to
1. Create conditions for anodic dissolution of workpiece material
2. Remove the debris of the electrochemical reactions from the gap
3. Carry away the heat generated by the machining process
Properties of electrolyte
1. Ensure a uniform and high-speed anodic dissolution
2. Not deposit on the cathode surface, so that the cathode shape remains unchanged
3. Have a high electrical conductivity and low viscosity to reduce heat generation
and to ensure good flow conditions in the extremely narrow inter-electrode gap
4. Be safe, non-toxic, low cost and less erosive to the machine body
5. Have small variation in its conductivity and viscosity due to temperature rise
Tool Feed Mechanism
Servo motor is used to feed the tool to the machining zone. It is necessary to maintain a
constant gap between the workpiece and tool so tool feed rate is kept accordingly while
Process parameters and performance factors
Supply voltage = 8 to 20V,
Current (I) = 50 to 5000 A.
Electrode gap is typically 0.1 to 0.2 mm.
Tool material - Cu, Brass, Steel
Tool feed rate,
Electrolyte composition and temperature etc
MRR is about 1600mm3/min per 1000 A
Surface finishes 0.1 to 0.5 microns using ECM
Specific power consumption 7W/mm3/min
Accuracy and surface finish of ECM product is influenced on following input factors
Machining voltage
Feed rate of electrode
Temperature and concentration of electrolyte
Advantages of ECM Process or process capabilities
1. Machining of hard and brittle material is possible with good surface finish
2. Good for complicated shapes.
3. There is almost negligible tool wear so cost of tool making is one time
4. No direct contact between tool and work and absence of force or heat, so no scope of
mechanical and thermal residual stresses in the work-piece.
5. Very good surface finish can be obtained.
6. MRR is not dependent on material hardness.
Disadvantages and Limitations of ECM
1. Electricity non-conducting materials can not be machined.
2. Tool and workpiece material should be chemically stable with the electrolyte
3. Accurate feed rate of tool is required to be maintained.
4. High cost and difficult in dimensional control
Applications of ECM Process
1. Used to machine dies, turbine and compressor blades
2. ECM is used for deburring of parts like gears.
3. ECM has been used in a wide variety of industrial applications ranging from cavity
sinking to deburring

Electron Beam Machining (EBM)

EBM is a metal removal process by a high velocity focused stream of electrons. As the
electrons strike the workpiece with high velocity, their kinetic energy is transformed into
thermal energy which melts and vaporizes the material. The production of free electrons
(negatively charged particles) are obtained by electron gun. Due to pattern of electrostatic
field produced by grid cup, electrons are focused and made to flow in the form of a
converging beam through anode. The electrons are accelerated while passing through the
anode by applying high voltage at anode. A magnetic deflection coil is used to make electron
beam circular and to focus electron beam at a point (localized heating). The process is carried
out in a vacuum chamber to prevent electrons from colliding with molecules of the
atmospheric air and to prevent tungsten filament from getting oxidizing with air
Advantages of EBM
1. There is no mechanical contact between too land work piece, hence no tool wear.
2. Very small holes can be machined in every type of material with high accuracy
3. Drilling holes with high depth/diameter ratios, greater than 100:1
4. A wide range of materials like steel, stainless steel, Ti and Ni super-alloys, aluminium
as well as plastics, ceramics can be machined successfully using electron beam.
5. EBM does not apply any cutting force on the workpieces. Thus very simple work
holding is required. This enables machining of fragile and brittle materials by EBM.
Disadvantages of EBM
1. Cost of equipment is high.
2. Rate of material removal is low.
3. It can be used for small cuts only.
4. Vacuum requirements limits the size ofwork piece.

Application of EBM
1. Drilling of holes in pressure differential devices used in nuclear reactors, air craft engine
2. Machining of wire drawing dies having small cross sectional area

Material removal mechanism

Laser Beam Machining (LBM)
Laser beam machining (LBM) uses the light energy from a laser to remove material by
vaporization and ablation. Laser beam melts the material by focusing a coherent beam of
monochromatic light on the work-piece. The light produced by the laser has significantly less
power than a normal white light, but it can be highly focused, thus delivering a significantly
higher light intensity and respectively temperature in a very localized area.

The LBM process does not involve mass material removal, but does provide rapid material removal
with an easily controlled, non-contact, non wearing tool.

Cooling Mechanism: to avoid its overheating in long continuous operation.

Tool Feed Mechanism
Focusing laser beam (cutting tool) at a pre-decided point in the workpiece serves as the tool.
The movement of the converging lens to shift the focussing is the tool feed mechanism in
LBM process.
Mirrors direct the beam from the source down to the lens
The lens then focuses the beam into the desired geometry

Advantages of LBM
1. Materials which cannot be machined by conventional methods are machined by
LBM (ceramics, glass to softer materials like plastics, rubber wood).
2. There is no tool so no tool wear.
3. Application of heat is very much focused so rest of the workpiece is least affected
by the heat.
4. Drills very find and precise holes and cavities.
Disadvantages of LBM
1. High capital investment is involved. Operating cost is also high.
2. Recommended for some specific operations only as production rate is very slow.
3. Cannot be used comfortably for high heat conductivity materials light reflecting
4. Skilled operators are required.
Applications of LBM
LBM is used to perform different machining operations like drilling, slitting, slotting,
scribing operations. It is used for drilling holes of small diameter of the order of 0.025
mm. It is used for very thin stocks. Other applications are listed below :
Making complex profiles in thin and hard materials like integrated circuits and printed
circuit boards (PCBS).
Machining of mechanical components of watches.
Smaller machining of very hard material parts.

Ion beam machining

In IBM, a stream of charged atoms (ions) of an inert gas, such as argon, is accelerated in a
vacuum by high energies and directed toward a solid workpiece. The beam removes atoms
from the workpiece by transferring energy and momentum to atoms on the surface of the
object. When an atom strikes a cluster of atoms on the workpiece, it dislodges between 0.1
and 10 atoms from the workpiece material.
superheated stream of electrically ionized gas to melt and remove material
The process can be used on almost any conductive material

Ion beam machining (IBM) takes place in a vacuum chamber using charged ions fired from
an ion source toward the workpiece by means of an accelerating voltage. The mechanism of
material removal in IBM differs from that of EBM. It is closely related to the ejection of
atoms, from the surface, by other ionized atoms (ions) that bombard the work material. The
process is, therefore, called ion etching, ion milling, or ion polishing.
A heated tungsten filament acts as the cathode, from which electrons are accelerated by
means of high voltage (1 kV) toward the anode. During the passage of these electrons from
the cathode toward the anode, they interact with argon atoms in the plasma source, to produce
argon ions.
Ar +e−→Ar+ + 2e
Advantages of IBM
1. Low temperature processing reduces handling an stress problems.
2. No dimensional changes
3. Good adhesion of treated surface
4. Can improve corrosion, oxidation, wear, hardness, friction, fatigue
Disadvantages of IBM
1. Very shallow treatment (< 1 μm)
2. High cost
3. The surface can be weakened by radiation effects
Ion beam machine consists of
A plasma souce generates ions
Extraction grid for removing the ions from the plasma
Specimen holding table

Abrasive Jet machining (AJM)

In abrasive jet machining, a focused stream of abrasive particles, carried by high pressure air
or gas is made to impinge on the work surface through a nozzle and the work material is
made to impinge on the work surface through a nozzle and work material is removed by
erosion by high velocity abrasive particles. The selection of abrasive particles depends on the
hadness and Metal Removal Rate (MRR) of the workpiece. Most commonly, aluminium
oxide or silicon carbide particles are used.

Dry air or gas is filtered, compressed and regulated (pressure and flow rate) while passed into
the mixing chamber. In the mixing chamber, abrasive powder is fed and is thoroughly mixed
with air. The nozzle increases the velocity of the mixture at the expense of its pressure.
Nozzles direct abrasive jet in a controlled manner onto work material. The velocity of the
abrasive stream ejected through the nozzle is generally of the order of 330m/sec.
Advantages of Abrasive Jet Machining (process capabilities)
1. Surface of the workpiece is cleaned automatically.
2. Smooth surface finish can be obtained.
3. Equipment cost is low.
4. Hard materials and materials of high strength can be easily machined.
5. Narrow slot can be produced

Disadvantages of Abrasive Jet Machining (limitations)

Metal removal rate is low
In certain circumstances, abrasive particles might settle over the workpiece.
Nozzle life is less. Nozzle should be maintained periodically.
Abrasive Jet Machining cannot be used to machine soft materials.

Process performance parameters

For AJM process, it is necessary to analyze the following process criteria.
1. Material removal rate
2. Geometry and surface finish of work piece
3. Wear rate of the nozzle
Performance generally influenced by the process parameters as enumerated below:
1. Abrasives used and its shape, size and composition
2. Carrier Gas properties (Density, pressure and velocity of carrier gas)
Density – 1.3 kg/m3
Velocity - 500 to 700 m/s
Pressure - 2 to 10 bar
3. Nozzle (material and diameter (0.2 to 0.8mm)
Effect of abrasive flow rate and grain size on MRR
It is clear from the figure that at a particular pressure MRR increase with increase of abrasive
flow rate and is influenced by size of abrasive particles. But after reaching optimum value,
MRR decreases with further increase of abrasive flow rate.
Stand off distance

Stand off distance is defined as the distance between the face of the nozzle and the
work surface of the work. SOD has been found to have considerable effect on the work
material and accuracy. A large SOD results in flaring of jet which leads to poor accuracy. It is
clear from figure that MRR increase with nozzle tip distance or Stand off distance up to
certain distance and then decreases. Decrease in SOD improves accuracy, decreases
kerfwidth, and reduces taper in machined groove.
1. Used for cutting thin fragile components like germanium, silicon etc.
2. Most suitable for machining brittle and heat sensitive materials like glass, quartz,
sapphire, mica, ceramics germanium , silicon and gallium.
3. De-flashing small castings, engraving registration numbers on toughened glass used
for car windows
4. AJM is useful in manufacture of electronic devices , drilling of glass wafers, making
of nylon and Teflon parts permanent marking on rubber stencils, cutting titanium foils
Water jet machining and Abrasive Water Jet Machining (WJM/ AWJM)
Water jet machining
Water jet cutting uses the beam of water exiting the orifice to cut soft materials. The inlet
water is typically pressurised between 1300 – 4000 bars. Water jet cutting is mostly used to
cut lower strength materials such as wood, plastics and aluminium. This method is not
suitable for cutting hard materials.
Abrasive water jet machining (AWJM)
Abrasive water jet cutting is an extended version of water jet cutting; in which the water jet
contains abrasive particles such as silicon carbide or aluminium oxide in order to increase the
material removal rate above that of water jet machining. Almost any type of material ranging
from hard brittle materials such as ceramics, metals and glass to extremely soft materials such
as foam and rubbers can be cut by abrasive water jet cutting. Abrasive water jet cutting is
highly used in aerospace, automotive and electronics industries. The addition of abrasives to
the water jet enhanced MRR and cutting speeds (51 and 460 mm/min).
Advantages of abrasive water jet cutting
1. In most of the cases, no secondary finishing required
2. Low cutting forces on workpieces
3. Limited tooling requirements
4. Little to no cutting burr
5. Very good surface finish(125-250 microns)
6. No heat affected zone
7. Eliminates thermal distortion and structural change
8. Precise, multi plane cutting of contours, shapes, and bevels of any angle.

Limitations of abrasive water jet cutting

Cannot drill flat bottom
Cannot cut materials that degrades quickly with moisture
Surface finish degrades at higher cut
High capital cost and high noise levels during operation.

Like other jet cutting technologies, AWJM also produce kerfs which have some distinct
features and the quality of the kerf determines the quality of the work. Generally a kerf is
produced with a wider at the entrance of the jet and reduces at the bottom which is called a kerf
taper. Kerf geometry plays an important in determining the work quality as the kerf produced
has some taper angle, which is wider at the top and narrow at the bottom
Plasma arc machining (PAM)
It is also one of the thermal machining processes. Here the method of heat generation is
different than EDM. In this process gases are heated and charged to plasma state. Plasma
state is the superheated and electrically ionized gases at approximately 5000 oC. A high
velocity jet flow of hot ionized gas melts the metal and then removes the molten material to
form a kerf.

Plasma Gun
The plasma gun consists of a tungsten electrode fitted in the chamber. The electrode is given
negative polarity and nozzle of the gun is given positive polarity. Supply of gases is
maintained into the gun. A strong arc is established between the two terminals anode and
cathode. Gases are used to create plasma like, nitrogen, argon, hydrogen or mixture of these
gases. There is a collision between molecules of gas and electrons of the established arc. As
a result of this collision gas molecules get ionized and heat is evolved. This hot and ionized
gas called plasma is directed to the workpiece with high velocity. The established arc is
controlled by the supply rate of gases.

Power Supply and Terminals

Power supply (DC) is used to develop two terminals in the plasma gun. A tungsten electrode
is inserted to the gun and made cathode and nozzle of the gun is made anode. Heavy potential
difference is applied across the electrodes to develop plasma state of gases.

Cooling Mechanism
As we know that hot gases continuously comes out of nozzle so there are chances of its
overheating. A water jacket is used to surround the nozzle to avoid its overheating.
The metals usually cut with this process are the aluminium and stainless steels. The process
can also be used for cutting carbon steels, copper alloys, and nickel alloys
Advantages of PAM Process
It gives faster production rate.
Very hard and brittle metals can be machined.
Small cavities can be machined with good dimensional accuracy.
Disadvantages of PAM Process
 Its initial cost is very high.
 The process requires over safety precautions which further enhance the initial cost
 Some of the workpiece materials are very much prone to metallurgical changes
on excessive heating so this fact imposes limitations to this process.
 It is uneconomical for bigger cavities to be machined.

Applications of PAM
The chief application of this process is profile cutting as controlling movement of spray
focus point is easy in case of PAM process. This is also recommended for smaller machining
of difficult to machining materials.

Transferred and non transferred plasma arc machining

A plasma jet can be operated in the transferred mode, where the electric current flows
between the plasma torch electrode (cathode) and the workpiece (anode). It can also be
operated in the non-transferred mode where the electric current flows between the electrode
and the torch nozzle. Both modes of operation are illustrated in Figure. The quality of plasma
produced is a function of density (pressure), temperature and torch power (the greater the
The Non-trasferred arc torch extends from the electrode or the cathode to the end of the
nozzle. The nozzle acts as the anode. This type of plasma jet is completely independent of the
work piece.

Transferred – In the transferred system the arc is completed by making contact with the
Non-transferred – In the non-transferred system the arc is completed by making contact with
nozzle, it can produce an arc without touching the grounded workpiece and can be very