Surface finish control by electrochemical polishing in stainless steel 316 pipes

Gomez-Gallegos, A.A. and Mill, F. and Mount, A.R. (2016) Surface finish control by electrochemical polishing in stainless steel 316 pipes. Journal of Manufacturing Processes, 23. pp. 83-89. ISSN 1526-6125 (

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Electrochemical machining (ECM) is a non-conventional machining process which is based on the localised anodic dissolution of any conductive material. One of the main applications of ECM is the polishing of materials with enhanced characteristics, such as high strength, heat-resistance or corrosion-resistance, i.e. electrochemical polishing. The present work presents an evaluation of the parameters involved in the ECM of Stainless Steel 316 (SS316) with the objective of predicting the resulting surface finish on the sample. The interest of studying ECM on SS316 resides on the fact that a repeatable surface finish is not easily achieved. ECM experimental tests on SS316 pipes of 1.5" (0.0381 m) diameter were conducted by varying machining parameters such as voltage, interelectrode gap, electrolyte inlet temperature, and electrolyte flow rate. The surface finish of the samples was then evaluated in order to find the significance of each of these parameters on the surface quality of the end product. Results showed that overvoltage, which is dependent on the interelectrode gap and the electrolyte temperature, is one of the main parameters affecting the surface finish; additionally there is a strong relationship between the resulting surface finish and the electrolyte flow. The interelectrode gap and inlet electrolyte temperature also affect the resulting surface finish but their influence was not so evident in this work. Finally, the variation of the electrolyte temperature during the process was found to have a great impact on the uniformity of the surface finish along the sample. We believe that this contribution enables the tailoring of the surface finish to specific applications while reducing manufacturing costs and duration of the ECM process.