Principal investigator: Edward De Meter and Saurabh Basu

University: The Pennsylvania State University

Industry partner: Extrude Hone LLC

Extrude Hone has developed a new Pulsed, Electro-Chemical Machining (PECM) technology called CoolPulse. It is used to smooth the surfaces of metallic parts, with a specific focus on those that are Additive Manufactured (AM). The machine is well designed, with an operating system that eliminates much of the complexity of process planning and machine control. However, each application requires the design and fabrication of a cathode. The problem is that it is very difficult to create a cathode that can uniformly smooth the entire surface of an AM part. This problem stems from the change in electrolyte conductivity as it accumulates heat, gas bubbles, and metal hydroxide along its flow path. It is believed that this problem can be mitigated with an advanced cathode technology that incorporates a design optimized, network of inlets, outlets and internal cooling channels. This technology will shorten flow paths, minimize electrolyte conductivity variation across the part surface, and maintain a sufficient electric field.

The proposed research will develop and assess the ability of “design optimized” cathodes to improve PECM processing. It will provide insight into how fluid convergence, evolving surface texture, and internal cathode cooling affect fluid conductivity. Lastly, it will initiate a Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) framework for cathode design optimization as well as provide general insight into their practical design. We anticipate this will enhance Extrude Hone’s business growth of the CoolPulse and provide opportunities for PA talent retention.

The proposed work will be carried out by a Ph.D. student in the Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State under the supervision of Penn State faculty and Extrude Hone engineers. It will also utilize a CoolPulse 1000 machine acquired by Penn State for the purpose of carrying out fundamental PECM research.