The relationship between total current, applied potential, electrolyte flow rate, electrolyte conductivity, and electrode gap in electrochemical machining was investigated experimentally and analytically. An electrolytic cell was designed permitting the electrode gap to be observed and photographed. A 0.25 × 0.375-in. rectangular 1100F aluminum anode was used. Electrode gap varied between 0.013 and 0.033 in. The electrolyte was potassium chloride in concentrations from 0.67 normal to 1.7 normal. Current density range was 40–450 amp/in. and electrolyte flow rate was 0.22 to 0.98 gal/min. The photographs taken of the electrode gap during operation clearly show development of a hydrogen bubble layer next to the cathode. Based upon a mathematical model incorporating the bubble layer, an equation in a nondimensional form has been derived describing the functional relationship between process variables. This equation correlates the experimental data within plus or minus 15 percent. An equation which predicts the local current distribution, and hence anode dissolution rate, along the electrode gap in the direction of electrolyte flow is also presented. Based on the theoretical analysis, optimum operation in electrochemical machining from the standpoint of uniformity of metal removal is discussed.

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