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Capillary Drilling

The Technology

Capillary drilling is an acid electrolytic drilling technique for drilling small holes in hard, corrosion resistant metals. Capillary Drilling is also referred to as Electro Streaming and is a form of ECM.

Hole diameters as small as 0.2mm/0.008” can be achieved, with depth to diameter ratio of 40:1 and multiple holes can be drilled simultaneously typically up to 100 holes.

The technology is rare and similar to electrical discharge machining (EDM) in that a high current is passed between an electrode and the part, through an electrolytic material removal process having a negatively charged electrode, a conductive fluid, and a conductive work piece.

There is little to no tool wear associated with this process and unlike EDM, however, no sparks are created. High metal removal rates are possible with Capillary Drilling, with no thermal or mechanical stresses being transferred to the part.

Components made using this technology include; Aerospace – Trailing edge cooling holes in turbine blades

ELE options for drilling holes

  • Stem Drilling – for holes in material greater than 15mm/19/32” thick and up to 600mm/24” deep. Can also accommodate blind holes.
  • Laser Drilling – for holes greater than 0.3mm/0.012” diameter in material less than 15mm/19/32” thick and capable of drilling thousands of holes in a single component.
  • Fast Hole Drilling – for holes greater than 0.3mm/0.012” diameter and up to 100mm/4” deep can also accommodate blind holes
  • Capillary Drilling - for precise holes smaller than 0.3mm/0.0012” diameter

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