Electrochemical discharge machining (ECDM) is a promising machining technology to process non-conducing and brittle materials, featuring high throughput and good accuracy in meso and micro scale machining of hard-to-machine materials. Currently ECDM has not yet attracted wide interest from the industry because of the low controllability and repeatability. There is a huge gap in process optimization to make ECDM viable in industry. A good process model is essential to achieve an improved and optimized process. The fundamental of ECDM is the discharging activity, which triggers various mechanisms to remove material. Therefore characterization of sparks from the aspects of electrical and thermal properties is the premise of process modeling. In this paper, experimental investigation and modeling of discharging activity was presented. The spark releasing process was studied in terms of discharge energy, intensity distribution, and material removal. Conic tool electrodes were fabricated to achieve more consistent discharging. The material removal mechanism was revealed by analytical derivation and simulated with numerical methods.

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