Advanced ceramics have many attractive features such as high stability and wear resistance that find broad applications in various fields, e.g. optics, aerospace, etc. However, the accompanying difficult-to-machine property with complex geometry brings great challenges to the commonly used laser machining and rigid wheel based grinding in industry. To achieve optical surface quality with surface roughness below 10 nm Ra, three promising ultra-precision compliant machining technologies using adaptive elastic tools are presented in this paper, including bonnet polishing, compliant pitch polishing and shape adaptive grinding with fine grain size. A comparative study was conducted by machining three different low thermal expansion ceramics while continuously increasing attack angle, spindle speed and tool offset across rectangular regions. Material removal rate (MRR) and surface roughness (Ra) with respect to different process conditions are compared. With sufficient data, the processing ability using above three compliant machining technologies is summarized based on the MRR-Ra plots for different ceramics. In addition, microscopic observation and X-ray diffraction analysis are conducted to characterize differences in material behavior.
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