Electro Chemical Machining

Technology suitable small quantity production

Electro Chemical Machining (ECM) is a method of working extremely hard materials or materials that are difficult to machine cleanly using conventional methods. It is limited, however, to electrically conductive materials. ECM can cut small or odd-shaped angles, intricate contours or cavities in extremely hard steel and exotic metals such as titanium, hastelloy, kovar, inconel and carbide.

ECM is similar in concept to Electrical discharge machining as a high current is passed between an electrode and the part, through an electrolyte. The ECM cutting tool is guided along the desired path very close to the workpiece but it does not touch it. Unlike EDM however, no sparks are created. The workpiece is eroded away in the reverse process to electroplating. Very high metal removal rates are possible with ECM, along with no thermal or mechanical stresses being transferred to the part, and mirror surface finishes are possible. The ECM process is most widely used to produce complicated shapes with good surface finish in difficult-to-machine materials, such as turbine blades. It is also widely used as a deburring process.

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