In terms of turning a uncooked block of metallic right into a helpful half, most processes are fairly dramatic. Sharp and hard instruments are slammed into uncooked inventory to take away tiny bits at a time, releasing the half trapped inside. It doesn’t at all times need to be fairly so violent although, as these experiments in electrochemical machining recommend.

Electrochemical machining, or ECM, is to not be confused with electrical discharge machining, or EDM. Whereas comparable, ECM is a a lot tamer course of. The place EDM depends on a strong electrical arc between the device and the work to erode materials in a dielectric fluid, ECM is way more like electrolysis in reverse. In ECM, a workpiece and customized device are positioned in an electrolyte bathtub and wired to an influence supply; the workpiece is the anode whereas the device is the cathode, and the circulate of charged electrolyte by way of the device ionizes the workpiece, slowly eroding it.

The trick — and expense — of ECM is usually in making the tooling, which may be extraordinarily difficult. For his experiments, [Amos] took the shortcut of 3D-printing his device — he selected [Suzanne] the Blender monkey — after which copper plating it, to make it conductive. Connected to the stays of a RepRap for Z-axis management and kitted out with tanks and pumps to maintain the electrolyte flowing, the rig labored surprisingly effectively, leaving a recognizably simian faceprint on a block of metal.

[Amos] admits the setup is much from optimized; the loop controlling the gap between workpiece and power isn’t closed but, as an illustration. Nonetheless, for preliminary experiments, the outcomes are very encouraging, and we like the concept of 3D-printing instruments for this course of. Given his earlier success straightening his own teeth or 3D-printing glass, we anticipate he’ll get this totally sorted quickly sufficient.

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