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Process Developments for Sustainable Electrochemical Machining (SECM)

Project Description


Electrochemical machining (ECM) has established itself in niche areas of manufacturing, e.g. aerospace, automobile and mass manufacture of metal parts owing to its many advantages such as ability to machine any metallic alloy; zero tool wear; excellent surface finish with no stress or heat induced surface damage. However, its wider adaptation/exploitation in industry is limited due its drawbacks: lack of predictability and control in precision machining; high-energy consumption; the need for acid based electrolytes; and the generation of by-products, which may be toxic and cause environmental damage.

Research and development work is urgently needed to exploit the ECM process capabilities, in order to provide innovative solutions to the manufacturing demands for precision metallic components. The ECM knowledge base created will provide opportunities for the SME sector to expand and grow their business in advanced sustainable manufacturing. In this research project, it is proposed to develop and enhance the ECM process mitigating some of the drawbacks. Firstly, environmentally benign salt based electrolytes will be investigated that can yield the same or better results for machining advanced alloys. Using the latest digital technology, the precision and predictability of the process will be enhanced and ECM energy usage will be minimised by improving the process efficiency. Finally, the other major drawback of toxic by-product generation/disposal will also be investigated with a view to reclaiming the metal from its oxide.

The research will be carried out at Glasgow Caledonian University with industry support from Precision Tooling and Castings Ltd in Prestwick.

Funding Notes

Total funding is £80,000 (15,000 stipend +£5000 fees) per annum for 4 years.

The candidate should have a BEng(Hons) or MEng in Chemical/Mechanical or Manufacturing Engineering 2.i or better, MSc/MEng in Advanced Manufacturing preferable. Knowledge of computational tools (CAD, CAM, FEA, COMSOL) is essential. Academic or industrial experience of designing, developing machine tools will be highly advantageous.

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