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5 Benefits of Electropolishing in Metalworking

  • September 4, 2020

Also known as electrochemical polishing, electropolishing is a metalworking process that’s used to remove excess or unwanted material from the surface of a metal workpiece. It involves bathing a metal workpiece in a tub of electrolytes that’s connected to a direct current (DC) power supply. The surface of the metal workpiece is then oxidized, which causes it to dissolve. Below are the top five benefits of electropolishing and why manufacturing companies use it.

#1) Super-Smooth Finish

Electropolishing allows for a super-smooth finish. When bathed in the electrolyte solution, a small but even amount of material is removed from the surface. Although there are other finishing options available for metal workpieces, few offer the smoothness of electropolishing. It’s able to create a super-smooth finish that’s not found in other processes.

#2) Supports Complex Shapes

Another benefit of electropolishing is its ability to support complex shapes. Regardless of a workpiece’s shape, it can typically be finished via electropolishing. The only requirement is that it must completely fit inside of the electrolyte-filled tub. As long as the workpiece is fully submerged, it can be finished. Other finishing options may only support metal workpieces in standard shapes, such as sheet metal, but this isn’t a concern with electropolishing.

#3) Removes Superficial Imperfections

Superficial imperfections are commonly found on metal workpieces. Burrs, for example, consist of small pieces of jagged or protruding metal. Some burrs are invisible to the naked eye, whereas others are more prominent. Regardless, electropolishing can remove them. It will dissolve burrs and other superficial imperfections with relative ease. The burrs will dissolve when exposed to the electrolyte bathe, thereby creating a smoother metal workpiece.

#4) Corrosion Resistant

You might be surprised to learn that electropolishing can protect metal workpieces from corrosion. Steel workpieces are often susception to corrosion because they contain iron. When iron is exposed to oxygen, it undergoes a chemical reaction that manifests in the form of corrosion. Electropolishing can protect steel workpieces from corrosion by dissolving their iron content. The iron on the surface of a steel workpiece will dissolve. In turn, the steel workpiece will be better protected against corrosion.

#5) Increased Aesthetics

Finally, electropolishing can improve the aesthetics of metal workpieces. When finished via electropolishing, metal workpieces have a naturally clean and smooth surface that’s attractive. As previously mentioned, it removes superficial imperfections that would otherwise lower the aesthetics of a metal workpiece. Electropolishing produces a clean and attractive surface with superior aesthetic value compared to other finishing options.

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