Several types of advanced materials have been developed to be applied in many industrial application fields to satisfy the high performance required. Despite this, research and development of process suited to machine are still limited. Due to the high mechanical properties, advanced materials are often considered as difficult to cut. For this reason, EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) can be defined as a good option for the machining of micro components made of difficult to cut electrically conductive materials. This paper presents an investigation on the applicability of the EDM process to machine ZrB2 reinforced by SiC fibers, with assessment of process performance and energy efficiency. Different fractions of the additive SiC fibers were taken into account to evaluate the stability and repeatability of the process. Circular pocket features were machined by using a micro-EDM machine and the results from different process parameters combinations were analyzed with respect to material removal, electrode wear and cavity surface quality. Discharges data were collected and characterized to define the actual values of process parameters (peak current, pulse duration and energy per discharge). The characteristics of the pulses were used to evaluate the machinability and to investigate the energy efficiency of the process. The main process performance indicators were calculated as a function of the number of occurred discharges and the energy of a single discharge. The results show interesting aspects related to the process from both the performances and the removal mechanism point of view.
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- Zirconium boride
- Silicon carbide fibers
- Advanced material