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MEMS-Based Micro-Electro-Discharge Machining (M ^{3} EDM) by Electrostatic Actuation of Machining Electrodes on the Workpiece

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3 Author(s)
Chaitanya, C.R.A. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada ; Ningyuan Wang ; Takahata, Kenichi

This paper reports a micro-electro-discharge machining technique that is enabled by electrostatic microactuators. The 18-??m-thick movable copper electrodes that serve as machining tools are microfabricated directly on the surfaces of the workpiece and operated in dielectric machining fluid. A dc voltage of 80-140 V applied between the electrode and the workpiece through a resistance-capacitance pulse generation circuit is leveraged to electrostatically pull in the electrodes toward the workpiece, inducing a breakdown and spark discharge. The discharge lowers the gap voltage and releases the electrode, which is pulled in again as the capacitor is recharged through the resistor. This pull-in and discharge cycle is self-sustained to perform the removal of the workpiece material. The electrode's displacement of ~ 30 ??m is measured at the machining/actuation voltage of 100 V. Micromachining of stainless steel is implemented using the planar electrode with 1.6 ?? 1.03-mm2 area, achieving the removal depth of 20 ??m. The double-layer electrodes that have electroplated microstructures with high-contrast patterns on the backside of the electrodes are developed to demonstrate custom micromachining. A dynamic characteristic of the built-in capacitance of the devices, which is used to form the pulse generation circuit, as well as their mechanical response during the machining process, is theoretically analyzed with the experimental results.

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 3 )