Precision electrochemical machining (PECM) is a nonconventional machining process that can help deliver complex and precise components quickly and accurately. It uses electrodes and a pulsed direct current to dissolve practically any electrically conductive metal, including highly tempered steel, rolling bearing steel and alloys. This flexible technology allows metals to be machined into highly complex geometrical shapes for myriad applications, some of which would have been difficult or nearly impossible to create just 30 years ago.
PECM technology emerged in the 1990s and, for a time, was used almost exclusively for adding fine detail to razor blades. Since then, PECM technology has been used to create precision parts for the medical field, auto racing, aeronautics and more.
PECM technology offers a number of benefits over conventional machining:
- Because the electrode does not touch the part, the material properties of the part do not figure into the equation. Traditional machining might require different drill bits, for example, to cut through hard metals, soft metals and rigid materials; the PECM process can handle them all.
- Parts formed using PECM are stronger than those formed by conventional machining because no mechanical or thermal stress load is applied to the part.
- PECM technology reduces the number of steps required to sculpt a part because it creates finished, burr-free shapes and holes in a single step. Separate deburring and finishing steps are not required.
- Because multiple parts can be machined in one cycle, PECM technology saves time and money by supporting high production rates and high-volume production.
- The PECM process can yield highly polished surfaces with tolerances in the 2–5 µm range, with a surface finish of 0.05 µ
As the markets evolve, manufacturers and designers will require parts that are smaller, more precise and more durable. Technological changes may yield new exotic materials that will be difficult to machine. Precision electrochemical machining (PECM) stands ready to deal with these and other changing needs of the market.
As a leader in PECM technology, Extrude Hone not only offers the machinery to help manufacturers and designers push the limits of technical innovation, but we back it up with investments in technical education, industrial technologies and material sciences to deliver the promise of progress and economic prosperity to people everywhere.