Electrochemical Machining: An Iterative Discussion
Updated: May 26
At some manufacturing companies, customers throw in an order for a part and the machinists get to work. But what if the part could be better built with higher quality, faster speeds, or at a lower cost using a different manufacturing process? If the people working on your part were even aware of what changes you could make – which is unlikely! – that kind of collaboration just isn’t built into working with them.
But giving feedback on how to make your part better IS the process when you work with Voxel. Creating a part with pulsed electrochemical machining (PECM) is an iterative process, based around discussion and optimization. We are here to help you create your best work. Sometimes that’s maximizing the benefits of PECM, but other times that’s telling you that we’re not a good fit. We want what works best for you, even if that’s not with us. That’s true whether you have already finalized the design and materials of your part and think PECM could be better or cheaper than the current process used, or if your part is still being designed and there is room for adjustments.
Begin by sending Voxel a 3D model of your part. Providing additional details about the purpose, geometry, projected quantity, and preferred materials can streamline the conversation. When you send us this information, it’s essentially coupled with the question, “I wonder if you can make this with PECM?” The answer to that is generally some form of “yes and no,” but that’s a good thing. Our customers’ manufacturing problems are our problems, and we want to understand your needs before spending your money.
When we receive your model and any other information you provide, we’ll ask follow-up questions and review your design for manufacturability and economics. Voxel works with you to achieve design for manufacturability (DFM), suggesting tweaks that will make your part less expensive and/or time consuming to machine, among other benefits. Sometimes we’ll even suggest that you use a different process for certain features or only use PECM for certain operations in the manufacturing process chain. Other times, PECM just may not be a good match for what you’re trying to do, and we’ll tell you that openly.
By facilitating an iterative discussion at the front end of the process, we build a relationship as we gain a clear and concise understanding of your requirements and partner with you in refining the design or manufacturing processes. While this is particularly true for new designs, it may also apply to an existing released design, such as when switching from an all CNC milling operation to a CNC rough milling operation followed by PECM.
Once we complete the manufacturability evaluation phase, we can move on to performing PECM tests and demonstrations. If it is a new material to Voxel, we may request some material samples to test surface finish and process speeds. If it is a material we have already tested, we may produce a prototype of the critical geometry to demonstrate feasibility.
Producing a part to tolerance can be an iterative process of tool design and process parameter tuning, so it is important to prove out the feasibility with a set of affordable steps. That said, Voxel is working to reduce the number of iterations required by using our experience, multi-physics simulations, and unique tool designs. All these efforts are to reduce the cost to our customers for creating prototype parts.
PECM with Voxel means a lot of engagement between us and our customers. With expertise, creativity, and collaboration, we empower you to create the best version of your design. Then, we bring it to life.
So, send Voxel your 3D model. We’re happy to help, and you have nothing to lose. But, from each other, we all have so much to gain.