Chemical Machining (CM): Chemical milling, Steps in chemical milling and Applications of Chemical milling

Chemical Machining (CM)

Chemical machining (CM) is the controlled dissolution of workpiece material (etching) by means of a strong chemical reagent (etchant). In CM material is removed from selected areas of workpiece by immersing it in a chemical reagents or etchants; such as acids and alkaline solutions. Material is removed by microscopic electrochemical cell action, as occurs in corrosion or chemical dissolution of a metal. This controlled chemical dissolution will simultaneously etch all exposed surfaces even though the penetration rates of the material removal may be only 0.0025–0.1 mm/min. The basic process takes many forms: chemical milling of pockets, contours, overall metal removal, chemical blanking for etching through thin sheets; photochemical machining (pcm) for etching by using of photosensitive resists in microelectronics; chemical or electrochemical polishing where weak chemical reagents are used (sometimes with remote electric assist) for polishing or deburring and chemical jet machining where a single chemically active jet is used. A schematic of chemical machining process is shown in Figure


(a) Schematic of chemical machining process (b) Stages in producing a profiled cavity by chemical machining


Chemical milling

In chemical milling, shallow cavities are produced on plates, sheets, forgings and extrusions. The two key materials used in chemical milling process are etchant and maskant. Etchants are acid or alkaline solutions maintained within controlled ranges of chemical composition and temperature. Maskants are specially designed elastomeric products that are hand strippable and chemically resistant to the harsh etchants.

Steps in chemical milling

Residual stress relieving: If the part to be machined has residual stresses from the previous processing, these stresses first should be relieved in order to prevent warping after chemical milling.

Preparing: The surfaces are degreased and cleaned thoroughly to ensure both good adhesion of the masking material and the uniform material removal.

Masking: Masking material is applied (coating or protecting areas not to be etched).

Etching: The exposed surfaces are machined chemically with etchants.

Demasking: After machining, the parts should be washed thoroughly to prevent further reactions with or exposure to any etchant residues. Then the rest of the masking material is removed and the part is cleaned and inspected.

Applications of Chemical milling

Chemical milling is used in the aerospace industry to remove shallow layers of material from large aircraft components missile skin panels, extruded parts for airframes.

Missile skin-panel section contoured by chemical milling to improve the stiffness- to- weight ratio of the part (Kalpakjain & Schmid)
Chemical Machining (CM)


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