Non-contact ultrasonic abrasive machining (NUAM) is a variant of ultrasonic machining (USM). In NUAM, material is removed predominantly by cavitation erosion in abrasive slurry. Due to a significantly lower material removal rate than traditional USM, NUAM is investigated for its applicability on surface modification and finishing in this study. Experiments were conducted on SUS304 steel samples machined by wire electrical discharged machining (WEDM). Due to the thermal spark phenomenon during WEDM, a thermal recast layer, of thickness approximately 15 μm, is often left over on the specimen’s surface after the process. The undesired thermal recast layer contributes to the poor surface integrity of specimens. A NUAM system was configured using a 40 kHz ultrasonic system. Ultrasonic vibration amplitude of 70 μm at the horn tip was used to generate cavitation bubbles in the abrasive slurry. NUAM was found to be effective in removing the unstable thermal recast layers by means of cavitation erosion. As a result, the average surface roughness, Ra, of the specimens improved from approximately 2.5 μm to ∼1.7 μm after 20 minutes of processing time. Furthermore, the addition of abrasive particles was observed to aid in more efficient removal of thermal recast layers than a pure cavitation condition.

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