White layer and residual stress are the main reasons for the decrease in fatigue life of electrical discharge machined samples. Therefore, it is important to research the evolution of the white layer and residual stress in electrical discharge machining and explain the influence mechanism of machining parameters on them. In this study, the surface topography, white layer thickness, and residual stress of electrical discharge machined samples under different processing parameters were evaluated. The results indicated that surface roughness, white layer thickness, and residual stress increased as the discharge current (I) and pulse-on time (ton) increased. However, when the ton was short, the effect of I (≤ 9.8 A) on surface roughness is not very obvious. When the discharge energy is similar, surface roughness is high under high I conditions. When the discharge energy is similar and low, the average thickness of the white layer is thin under the low I. The effect of I on surface residual stress was greater than that of the ton. The I and ton affect the white layer and residual stress by affecting the amount of melting and removal of the materials. These results were demonstrated that the input process of discharge energy has an important influence on residual stress and the white layer. Therefore, under the premise of ensuring the processing requirements, they can be controlled by selecting the appropriate combination of the ton and I to improve the fatigue life of the workpiece.

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