The use of engineering ceramics has found application in many of the modern day industries because of their excellent physical properties and as well as their mechanical properties. Moreover, ceramics are quite tough due to their higher degree of hardness and brittleness (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). For this reason, the aspect of electrical discharge machining, EDM, is still a suitable technique to carry out the process that leads to machining engineering ceramics, as long as they are good conductors of electricity (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). However, the electrical resistivity of the renowned engineering ceramics is indeed higher and as a result, there is still no research in place that would describe the relationship between the parameters of the EDM and that of the electrical resistivity of the engineering ceramics.

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Indeed, further development in materials engineering is a major cause for the development of the generation of materials that presently provides the best properties for their utilization in various industrial fields (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). Of all these, the aspect of engineering ceramics is mostly used in manufacturing, defense and aerospace industries, as well as various other specialized fields, mainly due to the hardness of the ceramic material, its strength in high-temperature environment and also resistance to the effects of corrosion (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). In a contrasting manner, the aspect of machinability, especially with respect to the conventional methods, as much as they are used is not that good. This is mainly due to the higher rates of wear and corrosion resistance brittleness and hardness.

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Popularity of electrical discharge machining is connected with the fact that this process enhances removal of materials by utilizing the concept of an electric discharge (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). In this regard, it is these charges that aid in the removal of small quantities of the material on the work piece due to the fact that a high temperature is being produced during the process of discharge. In this case, this process has a potential of facilitating the machining of any material so long as the material is a good conductor of electricity (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). For this reason, this process facilitates the machining of most known hard electrical conducting materials. With that said, some cases of brittle materials such as the engineering ceramics are also possible to machine by using this same process, since they have no contact with the electrode and the work piece (Ji, Liu, Diao, Xu, Li, Cai & Zhang, 2014). In consequence, it results in an absence of the forces as the erosion process continues. However, it is worth noting that the electrical resistivity of the popular engineering ceramics is much higher, compared to that of a conventional metal. In this regard, it leads to a lot of difficulties in the machining process on engineering ceramics compared to metals through the use of the EDM.

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Ji et al. have provided a wide scope of understanding the aspects of electrical machining. Their work offers a good background that leads to an understanding of the key facts of electrical resistivity and processes of machining. For instance, they investigate the effects of the electrical resistivity and the parameters of EDM. These parameters are tool polarity, pulse interval and the electrode materials that take place on ZNO/Al2O3 ceramic’s EDM performance with respect to the material removal rate (MRR), electrode wear ratio (EWR), and surface roughness (SR). For instance, many results from the investigation that the authors carried out demonstrated that the electrical resistivity and the EDM parameters have a major influence on the EDM performance. Also, the ZNO/Al2O3 ceramic that had an electrical resistivity value of up to 3410V was machined effectively by use of the EDM, the copper electrode, negative tool polarity, and a shorter pulse interval. In this case, it was noted that during the machining conditions, there was a tendency in the increment in the MRR, while SR experienced a decrement due to a decrease in the electrical resistivity. Moreover, the tool polarity, and pulse interval have an effect on the EWR. Electrical resistivity and electrode material both affect the EWR. The authors of the article noted that the microstructure character analysis of the machined ZNO/Al2O3 ceramic surface is removed by melting, evaporation and thermal spalling. On the other hand, the material from the working fluid and the graphite electrode can transfer to the work piece surface during electrical discharge machining ZNO/Al2O3 ceramic.

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Possible topics to research on the same topic

  1. Influence of electrical resistivity and machining parameters
  2. Experimental research on electrical discharge machining