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What is the difference between electrocleaning and electropolishing?

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March 24, 2022

Q. Hello all,
What is the difference between electrocleaning and electropolishing?

Systems Engineer - Ann Arbor Michigan

March 2022

A. Hi Ricky.
Electrocleaning is an operation conducted on many different metals for the purpose of assisting in the cleaning operation, It is basically a hot, strongly alkaline, soak cleaner except that the parts are DC electrified to cause the separation of water into hydrogen & oxygen at the electrodes so that gas bubbles (hydrogen or oxygen, depending on the chosen polarity) form right at the surface to assist in the cleaning.

Electropolishing, which applies to only some metals, most notably stainless steel, is done in strong acid, and it uses DC electricity to dissolve metal to smooth the surface. When things are done properly, the asperities are high current density areas which dissolve first. All mechanically polished surfaces resemble a farmer's plowed field; the furrows, divots, and clods will get progressively smaller as the polishing media get smaller, but at sufficient magnification the same topology continues. Electropolishing does not generate that type of surface, but one which resembles ocean swells, so it is especially useful when it is important that the surface cannot release clods of metal, even very tiny ones, and that it offer no "tooth" for better cleanability.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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