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Fiber lasers in micromachining cutting

Micromachining of fine features has become an important part of high-volume manufacturing in diverse markets like electronics, medical devices, etc. The process includes the creation of small holes, fine cuts and narrow scribers with the use of drills, saws, and, increasingly, lasers. The nature of this application requires the instruments to be precise, high quality, and cost-efficient. Mechanical methods of micromachining may achieve a certain quality and accuracy, however, they are often limited inconsistency and the size of the features they can create. Compared to such mechanical methods like drilling, milling, sawing and sandblasting, laser technology can offer high accuracy and consistency with no tool wear. The use of lasers for micromachining has not been available until recent advancements in laser technologies, for example, with the development of fiber laser systems.
There are a number of challenges that require a solution in order to achieve the needed levels of accuracy and quality. One of the main challenges for micromachining is the removal of only the desired material that is often done via localized heating. During this process, the heating of the surrounding or the underlying material should be minimized. The delivery of a high beam quality laser irradiation precisely on the target area is the first step to achieving the desired result. The necessary requirements for the laser used for micromachining are short wavelengths and short pulse widths; these characteristics allow to achieve higher quality results. The use of green or UV fiber lasers allows for shallow absorption depths and significantly reduced heat affected zone. Moreover, UV fiber lasers can be focused into smaller spots leading to more precise micromachining results, like smaller, more accurate features.
Femtosecond fiber lasers and picosecond fiber lasers provide ultrashort pulses that yield intense peak powers, which, in turn, result in instantaneous material vaporization and very minimal heat deposition. This process is referred to as “cold ablation”.
The second challenge is achieving high machining throughput. The increased average output power usually translates into higher ablation rates. Lastly, the cost of lasers is an important figure for micromachining. The cost-efficiency of the laser includes its upfront cost, cost of operation, lost productivity from downtime, process yield.
Over the past years, fiber lasers have become the dominant technology in micromachining. They are mainly used in less demanding processes and materials that can utilize infrared wavelengths and longer pulse widths. Fiber laser systems are also cost-efficient.
Optromix Inc., headquartered in Cambridge, MA, USA, is a manufacturer of laser technologies, optical fiber sensors, and optical monitoring systems. Optromix provides world-class laser systems and it is our highest priority to deliver the best quality products to our clients. Our main specialization is manufacturing single frequency fiber lasers.
If you are interested in fiber laser systems, please contact us at