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Robust Design of EDM of Al-SiC Metal

Matrix Composite using Multichannel


Electrode
S. Murugesan#1, K. Balamurugan*2, C.Sathiyanarayanan#3
#1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Government Polytechnic College, Trichy.


TamilNadu, India- 620 022
1

murugsslm6@gmail.com

*2

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Institute of Road and Transport Technology, Erode.


Tamil Nadu, India-638 316
2

#3

drkbalamurugan@yahoo.co.in

Department of Production Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Trichy. TamilNadu, India620015


3

csathiya@nitt.edu

Abstract- In this paper, robust design is applied to the blind hole drilling of Al-15% SiC Metal Matrix
Composite (MMC) in Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM). A multichannel copper rod is used as the
electrode. Material removal rate (MRR), one of the important responses is considered for the analysis.
Electrode polarity (P), discharge current (I p), pulse on time (Ton), pulse off time (Toff), and flushing
pressure (Pf) are considered as independent parameters. Taguchis L 18 orthogonal array is used to conduct
the experiments with various levels of P, Ip, Ton, Toff and Pf. Optimisation of MRR is carried out using
signal-to-noise ratio(S/N ratio). Investigation of the influence of each machining parameter on the
response is carried out using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).
Key words- Al-SiC, EDM, Multichannel electrode, S/N ratio, ANOVA
I. INTRODUCTION
Taguchis robust design offers a systematic approach for the analysis, evaluation and optimisation of various
parameters with regard to performance, cost and quality. This method involves conducting experiments based on
orthogonal array, using S/N ratio to find the optimum values of process parameters and using ANOVA to find
the significance of the each input parameter on the response [1]-[3].
Aluminium metal matrix composites (AMMC) refer to the class of light-weight high-performance aluminium
centric material systems. The properties of AMMCs can be tailored to the demands of different industrial
application by suitable combinations of matrix, reinforcement and processing route. The major advantages of
AMMCs compared to unreinforced materials are greater strength, improved stiffness, reduced density, improved
high temperature properties, controlled thermal expansion co-efficient, enhanced electrical performance,
improved abrasion and wear resistance and improved damping capabilities. Particle reinforced aluminium
matrix composites (PAMC) constitute the largest quantity of composites produced and utilized on volume and
weight basis. They are produced by PM/stir-cast/melt infiltration/spraying/insitu processing techniques at
industrial level. Particulates of SiC, Al 2O3, TiC, TiB2, B4C have been used as reinforcements. PAMCs have been
successfully used as components in automotive, aerospace, optomechanical assemblies and thermal management
[4].
Machining aluminium metal matrix using EDM is one of the most extensively used non-conventional
material removal processes. Its uniqueness, that is, the use of thermal energy to machine electrically conductive
parts regardless of hardness has been its distinctive advantage. Another characteristic of EDM is the lack of
direct contact between the electrode and the workpiece, thus eliminating mechanical stress, chatter and vibration
during machining.
The introduction of EDM to the metal cutting has been a viable machining option for producing highly
complex parts, independent of the mechanical properties of the work piece material. Controlling the EDM
process mostly relies on empirical methods largely due to the stochastic nature of the sparking phenomenon
involving both electrical and non-electrical process parameters. The EDM process needs to be constantly
revitalized to remain competitive in providing an essential and valuable role in the tool room manufacturing of
part with difficult-to-machine materials and geometries [5].

For effective EDM of SiC/Al, large electrical current and short on time were recommended. Single pulse is
better because in the continuous pulse, the discharge of SiC/Al is more irregular, and the material removal rate is
faster only at the beginning followed by being retarded due to existence of SiC particles in the gap [6].
Feasibility of using the non-conventional EDM process for cast aluminium MMCs was confirmed, and
models based on two-level factorial experiments were developed. The power level greatly affected the material
removal rate (MRR) and the recast layer. The current alone controlled the surface finish [7].
Use of a rotating disk electrode was proposed as a more productive and accurate technique than use of a
conventional electrode. Material removal rate, tool wear rate, relative electrode wear, corner reproduction
accuracy, and surface finish aspects of a rotary electrode were compared with those of a stationary one. The
effective flushing of the working gap brought about by the rotation of the electrode remarkably improved
material removal rate and machines surfaces with a better finish [8].
The combination of ultrasonic vibration and rotation of electrode leads to increases in MRR, TWR and SR.
Thus, for optimum parameter settings, a compromise should be made between SR and MRR or TWR [9].
Investigation was carried out using various input variables on electric discharge machining of Al-SiC MMCs
to assess the machinability, using rotary tube electrode. Peak currents were confirmed to have positive effects
on the MRR, EWR and SR. The MRR, EWR and SR were more with positive polarity of the electrode than at
negative. The electrode hole diameter and rotational speed had major effect on MRR, EWR and SR. Genetic
algorithm was used to find optimum machining parameters [10].
Taguchi method was applied to find optimum process parameters for end milling while hard machining of
hardened steel. A L18 array, signal-to-noise ratio and analysis of variance to study the performance characteristics
of machining parameters (cutting speed, feed, depth of cut and width of cut) with consideration of surface finish
and tool life. Results obtained by Taguchi method matched closely with ANOVA and cutting speed was the most
influencing parameter [11].
The goal of present study is to maximize MRR, thereby reducing the machining cost, in the formation of a
blind hole of 12mm diameter and 5mm depth under the given machining conditions. Analysis of the response is
carried out using signal-to-noise ratio to meet this objective. The Taguchi method of orthogonal array is
employed to conduct a set of experiments. The ANOVA is employed to determine the effect of the machining
parameters
on
the Conditions
characteristics of the
Description
EDM process.
Polarity of workpiece
Positive and Negative
Discharge current
4-12 A
EXPERIMENTAL
Pulse on time
200-600 s
Pulse off time
20-60 s
Pressure of Dielectric fluid
0.25-0.75 kgf/cm2
A. Equipment
Suction
In order to obtain the Method of flushing
data for modeling, a
series of experiments were performed on a die-sinking electrical discharge machine SPARKONIX, which has
servo controlled feed drive in the vertical direction, shown in Figure I. The electrical discharge machining
conditions are given in Table I.
II.
DETAILS

Fig 1 EDM
Table I
Electrical discharge machining conditions

B. Work piece and Tool Material


The workpiece is 6061 Aluminium alloy reinforced with 15 % of SiC particles (by volume). The workpiece is
a disc of 70 mm diameter and 12 mm thickness. The specifications of the workpiece are given in Table II.
Table II
Work material specifications

Workpiece material
Al (%)
Si (%)
Mg (%)
Reinforcement
Particle size

6061 Al-MMC
92.7
7.0
0.3
15%SiC particles (by volume)
22 (m)

The tool used is electrolytic copper multichannel electrode, with an array of 48 holes, each of 1mm diameter
having 5 mm depth, as shown in Figure 1.
The dielectric fluid used is kerosene and the suction method is used for effective flushing of machining debris
from the working gap region.

Fig 2 Multichannel electrode

C. Experimental Procedure
Prior to experimentation, the top and bottom surfaces of the workpiece were ground to make it flat and good
quality surface finish. The bottom of the electrode was turned and polished by a fine grade emery sheet prior to
every experimental run. Each experiment was run till a blind hole of diameter 12mm to a depth 5mm drilled.
The machining time is measured with a stopwatch of accuracy 0.01s. The work piece as well as the tool are
detached from the machine, cleaned and dried up, to make it free from the dirt, debris and dielectric. They are
weighed, before and after machining, on a SHIMADZU precision electronic balance (maximum capacity 220 g,
precision 0.001g),shown in Fig 3. The surface roughness of the machined hole is measured using MITUTOYO
SURFTEST surface roughness tester (range -200 to 150 microns, precision 0.02 microns),shown in Fig 4. The
average surface roughness Ra values are used to quantify the surface roughness. The cut-off length for each
measurement was taken as 0.8mm.

Fig 3 Electronic Balance

Fig 4 Surface Roughness Tester

D. Material Removal Rate


MRR is calculated by using the weight loss from the workpiece (w w) divided by the time of
machining. In this attempt for blind hole drilling with multichannel electrode, two stages of machining were
carried out. In the first stage of drilling, the rough machining was carried out using multichannel electrode
resulting in fin like projections. These fins were removed manually using a chisel. In the second stage, a solid
electrode was used to complete blind drilling operation. Hence the total time of machining (T) is calculated as
T= T1+T2+T3
(1)
where, T1-Time for machining with multichannel electrode
T2-Time for removing the fins
T3-Time for finishing with solid electrode.
Now,
MRR=ww / T
where, ww = change in weight of workpiece in mg

(2)

E) Experimental Design and Parameters Selection


The selected machining parameters, listed in Table III, are polarity, discharge current, pulse on time, pulse
off time and pressure of the dielectric fluid. The experiments are planned according to Taguchis L 18 (21x37)
orthogonal array. Hence 18 experiments with one replication are conducted and their results are shown in Table
IV. To eliminate the consequences of unaccounted factors on the response, the experiments are carried out in
random order. The outcome of this robust design facilitates to approximate all the main effects in this research.
Table III
Machining parameters and their levels

Machining parameter
Polarity
Discharge current
Pulse on time
Pulse off time
Dielectric pressure

Symbol
A
B
C
D
E

Level 1
4
200
20
0.25

Level 2
+
8
400
40
0.50

Level 3
12
600
60
0.75

Table IV
Experiment results for multichannel electrode with 1mm array holes

Trial
No

Polarity

Current
amps

Pulse on
time s

Pulse off
time s

Pressure
Kg/cm2

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18

+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
-

4
4
4
8
8
8
12
12
12
4
4
4
8
8
8
12
12
12

200
400
600
200
400
600
200
400
600
200
400
600
200
400
600
200
400
600

20
40
60
20
40
60
40
60
20
60
20
40
40
60
20
60
20
40

0.25
0.5
0.75
0.5
0.75
0.25
0.25
0.5
0.75
0.75
0.25
0.5
0.75
0.25
0.5
0.5
0.75
0.25

MRR
Trial 1 Trial 2
19.24
40.86
43.55
18.12
95.26
108.66
36.92
97.50
176.42
15.44
56.20
86.60
37.94
76.42
174.22
36.34
197.32
238.86

18.14
39.61
46.40
19.62
92.38
104.20
38.66
95.08
172.92
16.13
52.50
85.18
39.58
74.12
171.45
35.27
191.80
241.73

S/N
Ratio
25.42
32.09
33.05
25.50
39.44
40.54
31.54
39.67
44.84
23.96
34.69
38.68
31.76
37.53
44.75
31.08
45.78
47.61

III. SIGNAL-NOISE RATIO


Robust design involves control and noise factors. Measure of interactions between these factors with regard
to robustness is signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio.
For analysing MRR, larger-the-best characteristic is used and is calculated as follows.
S/N = -10 log ((1/n) ( (1/y2)))
where

(3)

y - the observed data


n - Number of trials
IV. ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE (ANOVA)

ANOVA is useful for determining the influence of an input parameter from a series of experimental results
by design of experiments for machining process and it can be used to interpret experimental data. In the
ANOVA calculations, total variation may be decomposed into (1) variation due to factors (2) variation due to
error [1].
The total variation (also termed as total sum of squares) is obtained by
N

SS T = ( y iT ) (4)
i=1

The variation due to factors i.e., variation of the average of observations under each factor level around
the average of all observations (also called mean sum of squares) is calculated using the formula

[ ( )]
kA

SS A =

i=1

A 2i
T2
(5)
nA
N
i

The variation due to error i.e., variation of the individual observations around the average of
observations under each factor level is calculated using the formula
kA

nA

SS e = ( y i A j) (6)
j=1 i=1

Also,

SST = SSA + SSe


(7)

In the equations above,

T/N =

A = factor under investigation; Ai = sum of observations under Ai level


Aj = sum of observations of jth factor
n A i = number of observations under Ai level
kA = number of levels of factor A
y= Observation, response, data; y i= ith response
N= Total number of observations
T = Sum of all observations; T = average of all observations =

While performing ANOVA, degrees of freedom are also considered together with total sum of squares
and mean sum of squares. In ANOVA studies with certain test error, error variance determination is vital.
Experimentally obtained data are used to estimate F-value. Variation observed in an experiment attributed to
each significant factor is reflected in percent contribution, which shows relative power of each factor to reduce
the variation. Factors with higher values of percent contribution play an important role in the machining
performance [3].

V. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS


The quantitative results for mean values of MRR are shown in response table V.
The main effects plot for mean values of MRR is obtained using Minitab statistical software and is shown in
figure 5. The analysis of MRR is carried out using this plot.
Table V
Response Table for Means

Level

101.51

43.32

27.62

105.66

88.80

70.20

84.33

92.42

89.46

74.99

129.90

137.52

62.43

93.76

Main Effects Plot for Means - MRR


Data Means
A

Mean of Means - MRR

140

120

100

80

60

40

20
-

12

200

400

600

20

40

60

0.25

0.50

0.75

Fig 5 MRR versus input parameters

1) Analysis of the result according to the polarity


Considering polarity, the MRR is higher with a negative polarity (i.e., the workpiece as cathode and the
electrode as anode) than with the positive polarity. The MRR value increases from 70.20 mg/min at positive
polarity to 101.5 mg/min at negative polarity. This phenomenon might be attributable to the transfer of energy
during the discharging process. The transfer of energy during charging process is more when the workpiece is
kept at negative polarity than at positive [8], [12].
2) Analysis of the result according to the discharge current
With respect to discharge current, MRR varies in directly proportional fashion. Hence the MRR is
maximum at the maximum discharge current i.e. at 12 amps. The MRR value increases from 43.32 mg/min at 4
amps to 129.90 mg/min at 12 amps. This phenomenon could be attributed to the increased input current leads to
increased discharge energy. The increased discharge energy results in larger sparks, which remove the debris
generated quite effectively. In addition to that, debris removal at the machining gap is enhanced by forcing the
dielectric fluid through the channels in the electrode.
3) Analysis of the result according to the pulse on time
The MRR is greatly influenced by the variation of pulse on time as its value is increased from 200 s to
600 s. The MRR is increased from 27.62 mg/min to 137.52 mg/min. With the increase in pulse on time, the
energy density on the workpiece is increased leading to increased MRR. The improved flushing conditions by
using the multichannel electrode also lead to increased MRR.
4) Analysis of the result according to the pulse off time

The pulse off time variation marginally influences the MRR. When the pulse off time is varied from 20
s to 60 s, the MRR decreases from 105.66 mg/min to 62.43 mg/min. Increased pulse off time means that the
interval between the discharges is longer to recharge the circuit. As a result, MRR varies inversely with respect
to pulse off time.
5) Analysis of the result according to the dielectric pressure
As the dielectric pressure is increased from 0.25 kg f/cm2 to 0.75 kgf/cm2, the MRR is increased from
88.81mg/min to 93.76 mg/min. The increased pressure results in improved debris removal and thus resulting in
improved MRR. However, the increase in MRR is marginal.
Table VIII illustrates the analysis of variance (ANOVA) of MRR, the columns of the table describing the
degrees of freedom (DF), the F statistics and its percentage contribution. By comparing F statistic with tabulated
values (for 95% CI), it is concluded that the treatments have a statistically significant effect.
Table VIII
Analysis of Variance for Means

Source
A
B
C
D
E
Residual
Error
Total

DF

Seq SS

Adj SS

Adj MS

1
2
2
2
2

4411
22509
36622
5726
1136

4411
22509
36622
5726
1136

4411.0
11254.6
18311.2
2863.0
567.9

4.96
12.66
20.60
3.22
0.64

0.057
0.003
0.001
0.094
0.553

7111

7111

888.9

17

77516

%
contribution
5.69%
29.04%
47.25%
7.39%
1.47%
9.17%
100.00%

It is evident from the ANOVA table that pulse on time chiefly contributes to the variation in MRR followed
by the discharge current. The percentage contribution of pulse on time and discharge current are 47.25% and
29.04% respectively. This is also evident from p-values of 0.001 and 0.003 for the pulse on time and discharge
current respectively (p should be less than 0.005). Although it can be inferred from the means plot that pulse on
time and discharge current are main contributors to the variation of MRR, the quantitative significance of these
two factors can only be obtained from ANOVA.
VI. OPTIMIZATION
The Taguchi method provides a way to obtain an optimised value of a response variable by means of S/N
ratio. The main effects plot for S/N ratios obtained using Minitab software is shown in figure 6. As the objective
of this experimental analysis is to maximise MRR, larger-the-better condition is chosen. The maximum value of
S/N ratio of each input parameter gives an input combination that corresponds to optimum value of the response
variable MRR.
Main Effects Plot for SN ratios
Data Means
A

Mean of SN ratios

42

39

36

33

30

12

200

400

600

20

40

Signal-to-noise: Larger is better

Fig 6 Main effects plot for S/N ratios

60

0.25

0.50

0.75

The response table for Signal to Noise Ratios is shown in table IX. The response table provides:
The average response characteristics for each level of each factor in a design , Rank and delta values
that can help in assessing which factors have the greatest effect on the response characteristic of interest. The
delta values and ranks are interpreted as follows:
Delta- measures the size of the effect by taking the difference between the highest and lowest value for each
response characteristic.
Rank- orders the factors from the greatest effect (based in the delta values) to the least effect on the response
characteristic.
The response table is used to select the best level for each factor. Usually, the objective is to minimize
the standard deviation, maximize the S/N ratio, and meet some target with the slope. The delta and rank values
are used to identify the factors that have the greatest effect on each response characteristic. Then, levels of these
factors meet the objective are determined. Sometimes, the best level of a factor for one response characteristic is
different from the best level for another response characteristic. To resolve this issue, it may help to predict the
results for several combinations of factors levels to see which one produces the best result.
Table IX
Response Table for Signal to Noise Ratios

Level
1
2

A
37.32

34.68

3
Delta
Rank

2.64
3

31.32

28.22

36.84

36.23

36.59

38.20

36.86

35.30

40.09

41.58

34.31

36.48

8.77

13.36
1

2.55

1.18
5

Therefore the optimum machining conditions are A1-B3-C3-D2-E3 i.e. A, negative; B, 12 amps; C,
600s; D, 40s and E, 0.75kgf/cm2.
VII. CONFIRMATION EXPERIMENT
Once the optimum level of the machining parameters is selected, the final step is to predict and verify the
improvement of the response.
The optimum value of S/N ratio is predicted using the equation
opt = m + (mi-m)
(8)
Where m - mean of S/N ratio
mi - S/N ratio value corresponding to optimum condition of each factor
From the equation (8), the optimum predicted value of S/N ratio is opt =48.33
Substituting this value in equation (3), the value of MRR is obtained as 260.92 mg/min
A confirmation experiment using the optimum machining parameters is conducted. The MRR obtained from
the experiment is 246.89 mg/min. This MRR value is compared with the predicted value and the percentage
error obtained is 5.82%. Thus, the predicted result by Taguchi method is within the acceptable limit and is found
satisfactory for the EDM process.
VIII. CONCLUSIONS
Taguchi method of robust design has been applied for optimizing response process parameter for EDM of AlSiC MMC using multichannel electrode. Results obtained from Taguchi methods closely match with ANOVA.
1] ANOVA indicates that pulse on time is the most influencing parameter corresponding to quality
characteristics of MRR. The current also plays a substantial role on variation of MRR.
2] The percentage contribution of pulse on time and current for MRR is 47.25% and 29.04% respectively.
3] The electrical parameters more significantly affect the EDM machining process than the non-electrical
parameter (i.e., dielectric pressure).
4] Best parameters found for MRR are polarity, negative; current, 12 amps; pulse on time, 600 s; pulse
off time, 40 s and dielectric pressure, 0.75kgf/cm2.
5] The predicted optimum value of MRR is 260.92 mg/min and experimentally obtained optimum value
of MRR is 246.89 mg/min. A comparison between these two values gives a percentage error of 5.82%.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors are extremely thankful to Prof.P.G.Venkatakrishnan, M.E.,Ph.D., Department of Metallurgical


engineering, Government college of engineering, Salem, TamilNadu, for the supply of the composite material
and the management of JJ college of Engineering and Technology, Trichy, TamilNadu for providing machining
and measurements facilities.
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AUTHOR PROFILE
S.Murugesan is working as Senior Grade Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Government Polytechnic College, Trichy. He completed B.E., (Mechanical Engineering) with First class and
M.E., (Computer Aided Design) with First class with Distinction. He has been involved in the field of
Engineering Education for 26 years. He has organised 5 national conferences. He has published 2 papers in
International journals and presented paper in one International conference and two national conferences. He is a
life member of Indian Society of Technical Education. His main interest field is machinability of composite
materials, Taguchi techniques and ANN modelling.
Dr. K.Balamurugan is currently working as Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical
Engineering of Institute of Road and Transport Technology, Erode. He obtained his Bachelor's & Masters
degree in the years 1998 and 2001 respectively. He obtained his PhD from Anna University, Chennai for his
research work on Manufacturing System Design and Optimization in the year 2006. He has carried out Four
R&D projects funded by DST, DSIR, TNSCST and DRDO. He has published 48 research articles in ASME,
Elsevier, Springer, Degruyter and CSIR journals. He has made 34 National and International conference
presentations. He has reviewed articles for International Journal of Production Research and Editorial Member
of International Journal of Recent Patents in Mechanical Engineering, USA. He has supervised 06 PhD scholars
and currently guiding 06 PhD scholars and 02 MTech by Research scholars in Anna University. His areas of
research interest include Machine Layout Design and Optimization, Biofuels and Bio-Lubricants, Composite
Materials and Nano Materials.
Dr. C. SathiyaNarayanan is currently working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Production
Engineering, National Institute of Technology (NIT), Trichy. He obtained his Bachelor's degree from
Bharathidasan University in 1994 and Masters degree from NIT, Trichy. He obtained his Ph.D., in formability
of sheet metals from Bharathidasan University, Trichy in the year 2007. He has 20 years of Teaching Experience
and 13 years of Research experience. He has been involved in research projects on the formability of sheet
metals sponsored by M/s. TATA steels India Limited and Salem Steel Plant, Salem. He has published 42
research articles in international journals. He has made 50 National and International conference presentations.
He has been a reviewer for few International Journals. He has organized 3 short term courses/ seminars
sponsored by AICTE, ISTE, & TEQIP. He is a Life member of Indian Society for Technical Education and
Institution of Engineering of India. He has Guided 01 Ph.D. scholar and currently guiding 04 Ph.D. scholars, 2
M.S. Scholars and 20 M. Tech. by Research scholars. His areas of research interest include Metal Forming,
EDM, ECM, Composite Materials and Nano Materials.