Investigation of the plasma electrolytic polishing process for metallic surface treatment

This thesis presents a comprehensive investigation of plasma electrolytic polishing (PEP), a method gaining attention for its ecological benefits and effectiveness in improving the surface qualities of intricate metallic components. The study focuses on surface characterization, process diagnostics, and feasibility studies to deepen the understanding of PEP and its applications. The research begins by demonstrating the use of PEP in the pretreatment of WC-Co-based precision tools, thereby improving coating adhesion. Optimal conditions for surface cleaning were identified by varying PEP process parameters. After PEP treatment, an increased Co concentration and a decrease in contaminants on the tool surface were observed. Machining tests on coated cutting tools treated with PEP showed improved tribological performance, primarily due to enhanced coating-to-surface adhesion. Furthermore, the thesis delves into monitoring the PEP process using various diagnostic techniques. Calorimetric measurements revealed the energetic aspects of the workpiece in conjunction with the spatio-temporal development of the gas layer, supported by hydrodynamic modeling. Synchronized high-speed camera and electrical measurements established a correlation between oscillating current and gas layer dynamics during PEP. The study also demonstrates the application of PEP on additively manufactured (AM) metallic components, focusing on surface finishing for aerosol mist chambers used in fabricating plasma-polymerized (pp) films. The PEP process results in a smooth surface on AM components, leading to improved aerosol performance and uniform pp films. In conclusion, this thesis offers extensive insights into PEP, encompassing process development, surface analysis, diagnostics, and its feasibility in the fields of precision tools and AM. These findings serve as a valuable benchmark for future research in PEP and its potential applications across different sectors.


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