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Title: Numerical and experimental investigations into electrochemical machining
Author: Pattavanitch, Jitti
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis presents numerical and experimental investigations into Electrochemical Machining (ECM). The aim is to develop a computer program to predict the shape of a workpiece machined by the ECM process. The program is able to simulate various applications of EC machining which are drilling, milling, turning and shaped tube electrochemical drilling (STED). The program has been developed in a MATLAB environment. In this present work, EC-drilling, EC-milling and EC-turning are analysed as three-dimensional problems whereas STED is simulated in two-dimensions. Experiments have been carried out to verify the accuracy of the predicted results in the cases of EC-milling and EC-turning. The ECM modeller is based on the boundary element method (BEM) and uses Laplace's equation to determine the current distribution at nodes on the workpiece surface. In 3D, the surfaces of the tool and the workpiece are discretised into continuous linear triangular element types whereas in 2D, the boundaries of the tool and workpiece are discretised into linear elements. The ECM modeller is completely self-contained, i.e. it does not rely on any other commercial package. The program contains modules to automatically discretize the surfaces/boundaries of the tool and workpiece. Since the simulation of the ECM process is a temporal problem, several time steps are required to obtain the final workpiece shape. At the end of each time step, the shape of the workpiece is calculated using Faraday's laws. However, the workpiece's shape changes with progressing time steps causing the elements to become stretched and distorted. Mesh refinement techniques are built in the ECM modeller, and these subdivide the mesh automatically when necessary.The effect of time step on the predicted 3D shape of a hole in EC-drilling is investigated. The effect of discontinuity in the slope between neighbouring elements is also studied. Results obtained from the ECM modeller are compared with 2D analytical results to verify the accuracy that can be obtained from the ECM modeller. Milling features ranging from a simple slot to a pocket with a complex protrusion were machined in order to determine the feasibility of the EC milling process. These features were machined on a 3-axes CNC machine converted to permit EC milling. The effect of tool geometry, tool feed rate, applied voltage and step-over distances on the dimensions, shape and surface finish of the machined features were investigated. A pocket with a human shape protrusion was machined using two different types of tool paths, namely contour-parallel and zig-zag. Both types resulted in the base surface of the pocket being concave and the final dimensions of the pockets are compared with the design drawing to determine the effect of tool path type on the accuracy of machining. The ECM modeller was used to simulate the machining of a thin-walled turned component. The machining parameters, i.e. initial gap, rotational speed, and applied voltage, were specified by the collaborating company. Since only a small amount of material had to be removed from the thin-walled component, the tool was held stationary i.e. a feed in the radial or longitudinal direction was not required. By taking advantage of the axi-symmetric nature of a turned component, only a sector of the component was analysed thereby reducing the computing time considerably. The accuracy of the modeller was verified by comparing the predicted time to machine the thin-walled component with the actual machining time. The initial investigations in STED were both experimental and numerical in nature and they studied the effect of applied voltage, tool feed rate and electrolyte pressure on the dimensions of the holes. Later investigations were numerical and an iterative methodology has been developed to calculate a set of feed rates which could machine a specified turbulator shape.
Supervisor: Atkinson, John ; Hinduja, Srichand Sponsor: nment
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Boundary element method ; Electrochemical machining