High Frequency Electrochemical Nanopolishing of Alpha Titanium



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Product miniaturization is an ever increasing customer demand in aerospace, bio-medical, defense and electronics industries. These microparts play a vital role and are required to abide by stringent norms set forth by various quality control agencies. To maintain their functionality over a period of time, they are made of special engineering materials rather than silicon as commonly used in microelectronics. Lithography, etching, embossing, electroplating, laser machining and other micro manufacturing techniques have been employed traditionally to manufacture microcomponents; however, these techniques would be expensive, cause surface damage, or produce a very rough surface.

Electrochemical polishing is capable of machining/polishing any conducting material while holding close dimensional tolerances. This research develops a high frequency electrochemical nanopolishing technique for commercially pure alpha titanium. An alcohol and salt based electrolyte was used with direct current as well as alternating current on alpha titanium plate. For both current types, optimal surface roughness R_(a) ~ 300 nm was obtained on poly grained surface using interferometry and ~ 2 nm within a single grain by atomic force microscopy. Comparable results were obtained by other researchers with 30-120 nm R_(a) for titanium and titanium alloys. Linear regression models were developed to predict the surface roughness. The surface roughness predicted by the models was found to be within 26% of the measured values.