Non-traditional machining using the energy afforded by pulsed liquid impacts is currently being applied to machining materials at the microscale. This paper discusses the theoretical modelling of liquid impact machining thresholds as a result of temporal and spatial distributions of transient stresses in elastically deformable materials. The model predicts changes in the response characteristics of materials due to an idealised representation of a liquid droplet impacting a plane surface. The analytical approach used does not include the secondary effects of liquid impact and is therefore only applicable to the first stages of impact where the compressibility of the liquid droplet is most significant. The predicted response characteristics are compared with experimental data generated using a specially constructed micromachining center. The predicted response of a model material compare well with the experimental results. The results presented in this paper illustrate the importance of the energy provided by pulsed liquid impacts to remove material at the microscale. The secondary effects of liquid droplet dispersion are also illustrated and the mechanism of material removal during liquid droplet dispersion is described in detail.

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