An electron beam lithography technique has been used to produce microgrids in order to measure local plastic strains, induced during an orthogonal cutting process, at the microscopic scale in the shear zone and under the machined surface. Microgrids with a 10 μm pitch and a line width less than 1 μm have been printed on the polished surface of an aluminium alloy AA 5182 to test the applicability of the technique in metal cutting operations. Orthogonal cutting tests were carried out at 40 mm/s. Results show that the distortion of the grids could successfully be used to compute plastic strains due to orthogonal cutting with higher accuracy compared to other techniques reported in the literature. Strain maps of the machined specimens have been produced and show high-strain gradients very close to the machined surface with local values reaching 2.2. High-resolution strain measurements carried out in the primary deformation zone also provide new insight into the material deformation during the chip formation process
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