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Abrasive Jet Machining (AJM)

Dr. Venkaiah N
“A sacred thing is timely silence, and better than any
- Plutarch
Learning Outcomes
At the end of this lecture, student shall be able to

v  Draw the schematic of AJM process and label salient components

v  Describe the working principle of the process

v  Explain the material removal mechanism

v  Identify critical process parameters and describe their effect on

response parameters

v  List merits, demerits and applications of AJM

Abrasive Jet Machining Features
§  Also called abrasive blast machining, abrasive micro-blasting and
pencil blasting
§  Uses mechanical energy
§  For cutting or finishing purposes
§  Brittle materials can be processed
§  Process is inherently free from chatter, vibration
§  Normally used as a finishing process rather than cutting process

Abrasive Jet Machining - Schematic

•  Carrier gas (Air/CO2/N2) at 5 bar

•  Mass flow rate of abrasive (15 g/min) entering the chamber
depends on the amplitude of vibration of the sieve and its frequency
•  (Gas + Abrasives) pass through the nozzle at 200 m/s
•  Nozzle movement over the workpiece à manual or automatic
•  Machining chamber à safe and eco-friendly
Abrasive Jet Machining - Setup

Gas Drier

AJM - Working
§  Carrier gas (Air/CO2/N2) is supplied at
high pressure (5 bar)
§  Oxygen should never be used.
(because, it causes violent chemical
action with the workpiece chips or
abrasive particles).
§  The gas is then passed through an air dryer to remove any residual
water vapour.
§  To remove any oil vapour or particulate contaminant, the gas is
passed through a series of filters.
§  Pressure regulator checks the working pressure of the carrier gas
AJM - Working
§  Then the carrier gas enters a closed
chamber known as the mixing
chamber. The abrasive particles
enter the chamber from a hopper
through a metallic sieve.
§  The sieve is constantly vibrated by an electromagnetic shaker. The
mass flow rate of abrasive (15 g/min) entering the chamber
depends on the amplitude of vibration of the sieve and its
frequency (usually 50 Hz).
§  The abrasive particles are then carried by the carrier gas to the
machining chamber via an electromagnetic on-off valve.
AJM - Working
§  The machining enclosure is
essential to contain the abrasive
and machined particles in a safe
and eco-friendly manner.

§  (Gas + Abrasives) pass through a nozzle at high speed (200 m/s)

and directed onto a work piece traversing under the jet.
§  Removed particles are called debris and they will be flushed away
by the carrier gas.
§  Nozzle movement over the workpiece –manual or robot controlled

Material Removal Mechanism

§  When the sharp-edged abrasive particles hit (mechanical impact) a

brittle and fragile material at high speed, tiny brittle fractures are
created from which small particles dislodge

AJM – Abrasives
§  Abrasive particles must be hard, highly tough and with sharp edges

§  Material à Al2O3, SiC, garnet, olivine, silica sand

§  Not reused

§  Shape à irregular

§  Size à 10 - 50 μm (smaller size à for finishing, bigger size à cutting)

§  Mass flow rate à 2 - 20 g/min

AJM – Abrasives …
Recommended use of abrasives

Surface roughness achievable

Process Parameters

Fig. Ishikawa cause and effect diagram

Process Parameters
MRR, machining accuracy, surface roughness and nozzle wear are
influenced by

Carrier gas: Jet
•  Type – Air, CO2, N2 •  Velocity
•  Pressure •  Mixing ratio – Abrasive to Gas
•  Flow rate mass flow ratio
•  Stand-off distance
Abrasives: •  Impingement Angle
•  Type - Al2O3 , SiC, …
•  Size Nozzle:
•  Flow rate •  Material – WC / sapphire
•  Diameter

Material Removal Rate (MRR)
§  Material or Volumetric Removal Rate (MRR or VRR) is given by the

§  Typical MRR
o  1.6 to 4.1 mm3/min when cutting metals
o  16.4 mm3/min when cutting glass
o  For harder ceramics, cutting rates are about 50 % higher than those for
glass à 24.6 mm3/min
§  The minimum width of cut à 0.13 mm 14

Nozzle Tip Distance (NTD)

Nozzle tip distance (NTD) Vs. MRR

As NTD increases, velocity of the
abrasives impinging on the work
surface increases due to their Larger NTD à The jet flares out
acceleration after they leave the
nozzle. This increases the MRR. à Poor quality and accuracy of the cut

With further increase in the NTD,

velocity reduces due to the drag of
the atmosphere and as a result MRR
decreases. 16
Typical Values of Variables

Process Activity
§  List 4 process parameters
1.  Abrasive flow rate
2.  Gas pressure
3.  Mixing ratio
4.  Abrasive type and size
5.  NTD or Stand off distance

§  Draw the graphs to show the

effect of
1.  Abrasive flow rate on MRR
2.  Gas pressure on MRR
§  Abrasive media is carried by a flexible hose, which can reach out to
difficult and internal regions (Intricate parts)

§  Best suited for machining brittle, fragile and heat sensitive materials
like Glass, Silicon, Tungsten, Quartz, Sapphire, and Ceramics

§  Super-alloys and refractory materials can be machined

§  Not reactive with any workpiece material

§  Power consumption is low

§  Low MRR

§  Nozzle wear rate is high

§  Tapering effect due to flaring of the jet à Poor machining accuracy

§  Abrasives may get embedded in the work surface

§  Environmental/Noise pollution: Silica dust poses health hazard

§  Limited to brittle and hard materials. Can’t machine Soft materials

Metal working:
§  De-burring of some critical zones in the machined parts
§  Drilling and cutting of thin and hardened metal sections
§  Removing the machining marks, flaws, chrome and anodizing marks
§  Cutting of the optical fibres without altering its wavelength
§  Cutting, drilling and frosting precision optical lenses
§  Cutting extremely thin sections of glass and intricate curved patterns
§  Cleaning and dressing the grinding wheels used for glass
§  Cleaning the residues from diamond wheels, dressing wheels
Typical Part Geometries

AJM - Summary
1.  Mechanics - brittle fracture by impinging abrasive grains at high speed.
2.  Media - Air, CO2
3.  Abrasives: Al2O3, SiC, 0.025 mm diameter, 2-20 g/min, Not reused.
4.  Velocity à 150-300 m/s
5.  Pressure à 2 to 10 atm.
6.  Nozzle à WC, sapphire; orifice 0.05-0.2 mm2, life 12-300 hr, SOD 0.25-75
7.  Critical parameters à abrasive flow rate and velocity, SOD/NTD, abrasive
grain size and jet inclination.
8.  Materials application à hard and brittle metals, alloys, and nonmetallic
materials (e.g., germanium, silicon, glass, ceramics, and mica).
9.  Shape (job) application à drilling, cutting, deburring, etching, cleaning.
10.  Limitations à low MRR (15 mm3/min), embedding of abrasive in workpiece,
tapering of drilled holes 23
1. Material removal takes place in AJM due to
(a) electrochemical action
(b) mechanical impact
(c) fatigue failure of the material
(d) sparking on impact

Ans. (b)

2. AJM nozzles are made of

(a) low carbon steel
(b) HSS
(c) WC
(d) Stainless steel

Ans. (c)