Electrochemical polishing

A Comprehensive Guide to Electrochemical Polishing in CNC Machining

custom cnc machined parts with Electrochemical polishing surface finish

Electrochemical polishing is a metal finishing process that involves the use of an electrolytic cell to remove microscopic surface layers of a metal workpiece. The process is similar to electroplating, but instead of depositing a layer of metal onto the surface, it selectively removes material through the application of an electrical current.

During electrochemical polishing, the metal workpiece is submerged in an electrolytic bath that contains an electrolyte solution and a cathode electrode. The workpiece is connected to the anode of the electrical circuit and a direct current is applied. The electrolyte solution facilitates the transfer of ions between the anode and cathode, causing the surface of the workpiece to become oxidized and dissolved.

The process results in the removal of a thin layer of metal from the workpiece, which can improve its surface finish and remove any surface defects. Electrochemical polishing is particularly useful for smoothing out rough surfaces, removing burrs and other imperfections, and achieving a high level of surface uniformity.

Electrochemical polishing can be used on a wide range of metal alloys, including stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, and copper. It is commonly used in industries such as aerospace, medical device manufacturing, and automotive engineering, where high-quality surface finishes are critical for performance and safety.

Overall, electrochemical polishing is a highly effective and versatile metal finishing technique that can produce smooth, uniform surfaces with minimal material removal. Its benefits include improved surface quality, increased corrosion resistance, and reduced manufacturing costs compared to traditional mechanical finishing techniques.

Pro & Cons


  1. Improved surface finish: Electrochemical polishing can remove surface imperfections and create a smooth, uniform surface finish that is free of burrs and other defects.
  2. Precise control: The process can be precisely controlled to achieve the desired surface finish, with the ability to adjust parameters such as current density and electrolyte concentration.
  3. Reduced material removal: Electrochemical polishing removes very small amounts of material, which can help to preserve the original shape and dimensions of the workpiece.
  4. Reduced processing time: Compared to traditional mechanical polishing methods, electrochemical polishing can be faster and more efficient, reducing processing time and increasing productivity.
  5. Versatility: Electrochemical polishing can be used on a wide range of metal alloys, making it a versatile process that can be applied in many different industries.


  1. Cost: Electrochemical polishing can require specialized equipment and materials, which can increase the cost of the process.
  2. Safety: The use of electrical current and electrolyte solutions can pose safety risks, requiring proper training and precautions to minimize the risk of injury or damage to equipment.
  3. Environmental impact: The use of chemicals in the electrolyte solution can create waste products that must be disposed of safely and responsibly to minimize their environmental impact.
  4. Limited precision: While electrochemical polishing can be precise, it may not be suitable for achieving extremely tight tolerances or complex geometries.
  5. Limited material removal: While limited material removal can be a benefit, it can also be a limitation if more material needs to be removed to achieve the desired surface finish or shape.

Design Tips

When designing a CNC machined part with electrochemical polishing surface finish in mind, there are several factors to consider to ensure that the part can be finished effectively and to the desired specifications. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Material selection: Electrochemical polishing can be used on a wide range of metal alloys, but some materials may be more suitable than others depending on the specific application and desired surface finish. For example, stainless steel and titanium are commonly used for medical and aerospace applications because of their excellent corrosion resistance.
  2. Surface finish requirements: The desired surface finish should be clearly specified in the design requirements. Electrochemical polishing can achieve a very smooth, uniform surface finish, but the level of finish may need to be adjusted depending on the application.
  3. Part geometry: The complexity of the part geometry can impact the effectiveness of the electrochemical polishing process. Parts with deep or narrow channels, for example, may be more difficult to polish effectively.
  4. Part orientation: The orientation of the part during electrochemical polishing can impact the surface finish. Parts should be designed to allow for uniform electrolyte flow across the surface to ensure consistent results.
  5. Surface preparation: Prior to electrochemical polishing, the part may need to be cleaned and prepared to ensure that the surface is free of contaminants and ready to be polished.
  6. Tolerance requirements: The tolerances required for the part should be carefully considered, as electrochemical polishing can remove material and impact the final dimensions of the part. Tolerances should be adjusted accordingly to compensate for any material removal.
  7. Cost: Electrochemical polishing can be a more expensive surface finishing process compared to other methods, so the cost should be factored into the design and manufacturing considerations.

By considering these factors during the design phase, it is possible to optimize the electrochemical polishing process to achieve the desired surface finish while minimizing cost and manufacturing time.


What chemical is used for electropolishing?

The chemical used for electropolishing can vary depending on the type of metal being polished and the desired surface finish. Common electrolytes used in electropolishing include sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, and mixtures of nitric and phosphoric acid.

Will electropolishing remove rust?

Electropolishing can remove surface rust, but it is not always the most effective method for heavily corroded or rusted parts. Depending on the extent of the rust, other methods such as mechanical cleaning or chemical treatments may be more appropriate prior to electropolishing.

What voltage is electropolishing?

The voltage used in electropolishing can also vary depending on the metal being polished and the desired surface finish. Generally, the voltage used is between 4-30 volts.

Can you electropolishing Aluminium?

Yes, aluminum can be electropolished. However, the process requires specialized electrolytes and operating conditions to achieve a high-quality surface finish due to the unique properties of aluminum. Electropolishing can be particularly useful for aluminum parts used in the aerospace and automotive industries, where high-quality surface finishes are critical for performance and safety.


You’re one step from the  factory-direct price of part manufacturing services.