IonoPlus - A new way to better dielectrics

German patent no. 41 32 879 and American patent no 5,773,782
Every experienced operator of spark erosion machines is acquainted with the phenomen that better results are obtained with a used dielectric than when it has just been renewed. The reason for this is that finely dispersed waste particles make it possible for ionisation channels to build up more rapidly. In tests a fresh dielectric is always put to use for at least half an hour before the actual test phase is begun. Many years ago our firm also conducted experiments using dielectrics to which metal pigments or organometals had been added. It was intended to induce a „controlled“ effect of increased metal removal. Unfortunately most of these additives settled on the bottom of the work tanks even when their specific gravitiy was very low (e. g. with powdered aluminium) - or were taken up the filters. Only after these microparticles had been reduced in size even further, was there a real improvement in metal removal.

The starting point for the.development of dielectric IonoPlus IME-MH was the idea of formulating a dielectric that could be used for rough cut as well as finishing and polishing processes. In addition it was intended that it should increase metal removal and decrease electrode wear. From a physiological point of view the new dielectric was to be absolutely unharmful, so that it would no longer fall under danger class A III for inflammable liquids. Of course it also had to be devised for use with all conventional filter systems and had to be simple to dispose of.

This goal has been reached by using substances floating in the dielectric in finest distribution, substances that turn into stronger dipoles than the surrounding hydrocarbons when they come under the influence of an electrical field. On application of an electrical current, these chemical satellite electrodes align themselves along the lines of electric flux in the electrical field, an channels of increased electrical conducting capacity develop in the dielectric liquid. In this way the discharge channels required for spark disruption can build up more rapidly than usual. This in turn leads to a steeper increase in ignition voltage and in this way to faster spark disruption. Thus the amount of metal removal per unit of time is significantly increased.

In contrast to conventional dielectric liquids the dielectric IonoPlus IME-MH does not induce a direct flow of electrons from cathode to anode. On their way most of the electrons are attracted by the finely distributed satellite electrodes and conducted along a widely ramified network of channels. Since they lost part of their kinetic energy in the process, they hit the anode with relatively little energy. A decrease of ignition time delay is achieved at the same time, because of the steep increase in ignition voltage. Both of these effects lead to a decrease in anode wear. In comparison to conventional dielectric liquids electrode wear is therefore reduced by up to 30%.

In spark erosion for finishing purposes (with reversed polarity) the workpiece serves as anode. Again the satellite electrodes dampen the impact of the electrons, that now hit the work piece with less kinetic energy and more widely distributed than when a conventional dielectric has been used. The satellite electrodes lead to a faster build-up of the ionisation channel and thus make it possible for less average space current to be applied in pocessing the workpiece.

By means of this new technique very well polished workpiece surfaces with a surface roughness of less than 0.1 pm can be produced. This polishing performance i. r. o. surface quality and speed cannot be achieved with conventional dielectric fluids.

The use of highly polarized substances in the dielectric IonoPlus IME-MH also has a very positive effect on its dispersing qualities. The waste particles produced by the spark erosion process are hurled explosively out of the work area in the finest distribution. This reduces the tendency for short circuiting and leads to an undisturbed process in spark erosion. The reason for these good dispersing qualities are the electrical dipoles aligned in the satellite electrodes, leading to a quicker distribution of the waste particles due to their electrical repulsion forces.

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[Translate to english:] Stephan Hecht and Philipp Storr

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