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Electrochemical Machining (for Etching?)

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adaminc

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Ok guys,

I saw this post on Reddit about electrochemical machining, it was from popular science. Carve Steel with Saltwater, Electricity and a Tin Earring | Popular Science

It got me thinking, I was going to try and build a laser ablater, but the fact it uses high power non-visible infrared scares me, so I figured that this kind of machine would be much easier, and safer, to build, also much cheaper.

Essentially I am thinking of building a x-y gantry with steppers and screw drives, the etching head will probably start off as different things, like sowing needles, soldering tips etc..., graphite pencil leads for mechanical pencils, to see what works best.

I will probably use a computer power supply to power everything. I will use the 12V supply to power the head and use PWM to control it.

I have a magdrive pump would should work well to pump the electrolyte.

As for the electrolyte, I will start with regular salt water, although I would rather not use salt water as it creates chlorine gas, hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide when electrolyzed. I can't really think of anything else other than baking soda or washing soda (I have heard Water4Gas'ers talking about adding this to increase conductivity).

The only thing I am unsure of is how well the copper will etch. I know this method will work on steel really well, but copper, I have no idea.

So, what do you guys think of this method? Am I crazy and this wont work?
 
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