Subsurface damage (SSD) in the polishing process of silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic presents one of the most significant challenges for practical applications. In this study, the theoretical models of SSD depth are established on the basis of the material removal mechanism and indentation fracture mechanics in the SiC ceramic polishing process. In addition, the three-dimensional (3D) models of single grit polishing are also developed by using the finite element simulation; thereby, the dynamic effects of different process parameters on SSD depth are analyzed. The results demonstrate that the material removal was mainly in brittle mode when the cutting depth was larger than the critical depth of the brittle material. The SSD depth increased as the polishing depth and abrasive grain size increased, and decreased with respect to the increase in polishing speed. The experimental results suggested a good agreement with the theoretical simulation results in terms of SSD depth as a function of polishing depth, spindle speed, and abrasive grain size. This study provides a mechanistic insight into the dependence of SSD on key operational parameters in the polishing process of SiC ceramic.
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