Application of laser scanning as a pre-machining metrology technique in Jet-ECM
In Electrochemical Machining (ECM), where the material removal takes place based on the anodic dissolution of the workpiece material, the working distance is one of the most important parameters. Especially in Jet Electrochemical Machining (Jet-ECM), where a micro nozzle is moved over the initial surface of the workpiece in order to apply an electrolytic free jet to produce the desired shapes, the distance between the nozzle and the workpiece becomes even more important. On the one hand a small working distance is aspired to achieve high current densities resulting in a high efficiency of the process. On the other hand the working distance needs to be large enough to avoid damages on the micro nozzle caused by electrical discharges or mechanical contact. Hence, the adjustment of the working gap is essential to realize a precise, effective and secure Jet-ECM process. The control of the gap size is done based on the data gathered before machining by surface measurement. Until now, the initial surface has been detected by electrostatic probing through moving the nozzle stepwise to the work piece surface and detect the voltage drop between the nozzle and the work piece. With this strategy, only a limited number of points can be detected within adequate time. Hence, in most cases only three points of the initial surface are detected in order to adjust the working distance according to the planar inclination of the workpiece. The coordinates of the three detected points are used to calculate the normal vector of the initial surface. In recent studies, another strategy was analysed, which is realized by dividing the surface into smaller areas and respectively calculating the normal vector of each area in order to obtain more accurate data of the initial surface. A further strategy is to use probing along the machining path of the tool and to gather the coordinates of a number of points along the path.