Fibre reinforced plastics (FRP) have an important place in the field of engineering materials. Initially, the main emphasis in research was on the development of materials. Currently, however, more attention is being paid to the industrial production of FRP products. Normally, conventional methods for machining of these materials are used, but reports have indicated poor performance of these conventional types of cutting tools during machining of FRP. In this paper, a new approach using electrochemical spark machining (ECSM) for cutting and drilling holes in composites is proposed. The feasibility of using ECSM for machining FRP was first ascertained. Then a parametric study of the process was performed by planning the experiments using a 'design of experiments' concept as well as a 'one variable at a time' approach. Kevlar-fibre-epoxy and glass-fibre-epoxy composites as work materials, copper as the tool material and an aqueous solution of NaCl as electrolyte were used. It is concluded that ECSM is a viable solution for cutting FRP. However, for achieving the desired accuracy, surface finish and economics of the process, the machining parameters need to be optimized.
- electrochemical spark machining
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