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Ultrafast Laser Micromachining

MLPC has been rapidly developing laser micromachining technology through defense and commercial programs.

Process Overview

Laser micromachining is a general term that includes a variety of processes including hole drilling, ablation, milling, and cutting. MLPC uses solid-state laser technology combined with a multi-axis work station to offer a fully integrated micromachining capability. MLPC is one of the only contract laser service companies in the country to offer picosecond laser micromachining which can process metals, polymers, and ceramics with no peripheral damage. This equipment uses CAD geometry to direct-write the customer required geometry. The features which can be laser micromachined range from 5 micron and up in size. MLPC has expertise in both nanosecond, femtosecond, and picosecond laser technology, and has access to 355nm, 532nm, and 1064nm wavelengths.

Mound Laser & Photonics Center, Inc.'s newest addition is femtosecond laser micromachining. This addition completes the company's ultrafast laser suite of tools. Femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second 0.000000000000001 s. To put the speed in perspective, 200 femtoseconds which is equal to the time for the chemical reactions in your eye to complete enabling sight. This makes ultrafast laser processing well suited for precision micromachining, micro-hole drilling, precision ablation, and complex geometry creation in virtually any material. Common applications include bioabsorbable stents, micro nitinol implants, precious metal (platinum, palladium, gold) implants and precision instruments.

Material Selection

The combination of pulse durations and laser wavelengths enable the processing of materials ranging from metals to ceramics to polymers.

Production Services

Laser micromachining is often used for research and development and prototype development; the opportunity to take these applications into production exists. MLPC can transfer the technology from R&D to production services. Many of medical device manufacturers take advantage of MLPC’s dual capability—to conduct research and provide production services.

Applications

Example applications for the medical device industry include: micro implant manufacturing, micro batteries, and miniaturized minimally invasive tools. For the defense industry, example applications include: micro air vehicle components fabrication, surface texturing of aircraft components, and vehicle health monitoring sensors.

Technology Spotlights:

Micro Hole Drilling

Micro Hole drilling is one of the most widely used applications for the laser processing. At Mound Laser, we have four different types of systems that can produce precision holes with pulse durations ranging from the millisecond to femtosecond time domain. With a laser, holes can be drilled down to 5 microns with single micron accuracy. Holes can be drilled to a blind depth or completely through the material with typical aspect ratios (depth:diameter) of 10:1 or less. Using a laser, virtually any material can be drilled including metals, ceramics, polymers, and semiconductors. For the medical device industry, micro hole drilling has enable the production of many components including catheters, micro implants, and minimally invasive delivery systems. 

Micromachining Cracks for Crack Detection

Mound Laser has the capability within its ultrafast micromachining department to duplicate cracks.  Actual cracks found in the field can be evaluated and the data can be converted into a machining algorithm.  Mound Laser replicates the field documented crack for crack detection purposes.  The ultrafast laser systems have the ability to machine cracks in various shapes and sizes.  The crack in the image below has a width of 25-30 microns and a length of 25 mm. Mound Laser has the ability to replicate flaws that are not visible with the naked eye but can be used to test various non-destructive evaluation techniques such as ultrasonics and die-penetrant testing. 

FEA Modeling Nitinol

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Laser micromachining continues to push the threshold for device miniaturization and small component machining. We pick up where conventional machining leaves off and are on a path to nanoscale fabrication.

Dr. Larry Dosser President & CEO of MLPC