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A method of polishing metal surfaces by applying an electric current through an electrolytic bath in a process that is the reverse of plating. The metal to be polished is made the anode in an electric circuit. Anodic dissolution of protuberant burrs and sharp edges occurs at a faster rate than over the flat surfaces and crevices, possibly because of locally higher current densities. The result produces an exceedingly flat, smooth, brilliant surface.
Electropolishing is used for many purposes. The brilliance of the polished surface makes an attractive finish. Because the polished surface has the same structural properties as the base metal, it serves as an excellent surface for plating. Electropolishing avoids causing differential surface stresses, one of the requirements for the formation of galvanic cells which cause corrosion. Because no mechanical rubbing is involved, work hardening is avoided. Contaminants, which often are associated with the use of abrasives and polishing compounds, are also avoided. The surface is left clean and may require little or no preparation for subsequent treatment or use. Electropolishing also minimizes loss of high-temperature creep-rupture strength. See Electroplating of metals