Ultrasonic measurement of the inter-electrode gap in electrochemical machining
Clifton D., Mount AR., Alder GM., Jardine D.
During the process of electrochemical machining the dependency of the inter-electrode gap with time and process parameters can be used to determine process characteristics and to define the shape of the workpiece surface relative to the tool surface. Defining process variables to map out the required gap-time function requires the use of time-consuming iterative trials. In-line monitoring of the gap would enable process control and tool to workpiece transfer characteristics to be achieved (for ideal conditions) without the requirement to generate such parameter maps. This work explores the use of ultrasound applied as a passive, non-intrusive, in-line gap measurement system for ECM. The accuracy of this technique was confirmed through correspondence between the generated gap-time and current time data and theoretical models applicable to ideal conditions. Gap measurements are also used to demonstrate and quantify the degree of departure from ideal behaviour for an In718/chloride system as the electrolyte flow rate is reduced from 16 to 4 l min-1. The monitoring of the gap size has also been shown to be effective when determining shape convergence under ideal conditions, for the example case of a 2D sinusoidal profile. © 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.