Electropolishing (EP) is most widely used as a metal finishing process. It is a non-contact electrochemical process that can clean, passivate, deburr, brighten, and improve the biocompatibility of surfaces. However, there is clear potential for it to be used to shape and form the topology of micro-scale surface features, such as those found on the micro-applications of additively manufactured (AM) parts, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) samples, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMs), biomedical stents, and artificial implants. This review focuses on the fundamental principles of electrochemical polishing, the associated process parameters (voltage, current density, electrolytes, electrode gap, and time), and the increasing demand for using environmentally sustainable electrolytes and micro-scale applications. A summary of other micro-fabrication processes, including micro-milling, micro-electric discharge machining (EDM), laser polishing/ablation, lithography (LIGA), electrochemical etching (MacEtch), and reactive ion etching (RIE), are discussed and compared with EP. However, those processes have tool size, stress, wear, and structural integrity limitations for micro-structures. Hence, electropolishing offers two-fold benefits of material removal from the metal, resulting in a smooth and bright surface, along with the ability to shape/form micro-scale features, which makes the process particularly attractive for precision engineering applications.
Source : Micromachines