Electro chemical machining (ECM) is the controlled removal of metal by anodic dissolution in an electrolytic medium in which the work piece is the anode & the tool is the cathode.
Working: Two electrodes are placed at a distance of about 0.5mm & immersed in an electrolyte, which is a solution of sodium chloride. When an electrical potential of about 20V is applied between the electrodes, the ions existing in the electrodes migrate toward the electrodes.
Positively charged ions are attracted towards the cathode & negatively charged towards the anode. This initiates the flow of current in the electrolyte. The electrolysis process that takes place at the cathode liberates hydroxyl ions & free hydrogen. The hydroxyl ion combines with the metal ions of anode to form insoluble metal hydroxides &the material is thus removed from the anode. This process continues and the tool reproduces its shape in the work piece (anode). The high current densities promote rapid generation of metal hydroxides and gas bubble in the small spacing between the electrodes. These become a barrier to the electrolyzing current after a few seconds. To maintain a continuous high density current, these products have to be removed continuously. This is achieved by circulating the electrolyte at high velocity through the gap between the electrodes. It is also to be noted that the machining gap size increases. Therefore to maintain a constant gap the cathode should be advanced towards the anode at the same rate at which the material is removed.Recommend this topic