It has been shown that electrically assisted machining has the ability to reduce cutting force, change chip type, and improve surface finish. However, the effect of electricity on tungsten carbide has not been examined, a material often used to create cutting tools used in electrically assisted machining. During machining processes, depending on the type of cut, a small amount of the tool may be in contact with the workpiece. This will lead to an increased current density at that point on the tool which could lead to undesired effects with respect to tool wear and life. This paper conducts electrically assisted compression tests on uncoated tungsten carbide rod to examine the effect of electricity on the material and determine if there are any current densities that cause large magnitude weakening of the tungsten carbide. It is concluded that there is a maximum current density that can be passed through tungsten carbide before thermal softening becomes a problem. At a current density lower than this threshold, electricity has little effect on the strength of the carbide. This work is related to past electrically assisted turning experimentation.

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