UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

MEMS-enabled micro-electro-discharge machining (M³EDM) Alla Chaitanya, Chakravarty Reddy


A MEMS-based micro-electro-discharge machining technique that is enabled by the actuation of micromachined planar electrodes defined on the surfaces of the workpiece is developed that eliminates the need of numerical control machines. First, the planar electrodes actuated by hydrodynamic force is developed. The electrode structures are defined by patterning l8-µm-thick copper foil laminated on the stainless steel workpiece through an intermediate photoresist layer and released by sacrificial etching of the resist layer. The planer electrodes are constructed to be single layer structures without particular features underneath. All the patterning and sacrificial etching steps are performed using dry-film photoresists towards achieving high scalability of the machining technique to large-area applications. A DC voltage of 80-140 V is applied between the electrode and the workpiece through a resistance-capacitance circuit that controls the pulse energy and timing of spark discharges. The parasitic capacitance of the electrode structure is used to form a resistance capacitance circuit for the generation of pulsed spark discharge between the electrode and the workpiece. The suspended electrodes are actuated towards the workpiece using the downflow of dielectric machining fluid, initiating and sustaining the machining process. Micromachining of stainless steel is experimentally demonstrated with the machining voltage of 90V and continuous flow of the fluid at the velocity of 3.4-3.9 m/s, providing removal depth of 20 µm. The experimental results of the electrode actuation match well with the theoretical estimations. Second, the planar electrodes are electrostatically actuated towards workpiece for machining. In addition to the single-layer, this effort uses double-layer structures defined on the bottom surface of the electrode to create custom designed patterns on the workpiece material. The suspended electrode is electrostatically actuated towards the wafer based on the pull-in, resulting in a breakdown, or spark discharge. This instantly lowers the gap voltage, releasing the electrode, and the gap value recovers as the capacitor is charged up through the resistor. Sequential pulses are produced through the self-regulated discharging-charging cycle. Micromachining of the stainless-steel wafer is demonstrated using the electrodes with single-layer and double-layer structures. The experimental results of the dynamic built-capacitance and mechanical behavior of the electrode devices are also analyzed.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International