As manufacturing technology has continued to evolve in recent years, one of the biggest and most innovative developments has been laser micromachining. A very versatile process in that the lasers used in it can successfully work on such materials as glass, metal, plastic, foils, and many others, it relies on lasers that can be programmed to perform cutting, drilling, turning, threading, and other applications to create various parts and products. Most often used by the medical industry to create parts for pacemakers, cardiovascular stents, needles, and guide wires, it is also relied on by electronics manufacturers, airline manufacturers, and the military. Considered to be state-of-the-art technology, it offers many important benefits that result in decreased costs, increased efficiency, and parts that are very reliable.
Makes the Impossible Possible
According to most experts, laser micromachining makes products that once were almost impossible to make now quite easy to mass-produce on a daily basis. From integrated circuits and catheters to automotive fuel-injector nozzles and much more, lasers can drill extremely small holes that are almost invisible to the naked eye, and can also texture various surfaces to match whatever application is needed.
Works in Conjunction with 3-D Printing
To further demonstrate the versatility of laser micromachining, the process is often paired with 3-D printing to achieve even more outstanding results. This is used very often in the automotive industry, since engineers are constantly examining automotive parts, testing them, and making necessary changes. By using 3-D printing with the laser micromachining process, engineers can then make whatever changes they desire far quicker than before, and can be sure the results will be completely accurate.
Perhaps more than anything, laser micromachining is considered one of if not the most versatile manufacturing application available today. Having virtually no limits on what they can cut through, the lasers not only cut glass and metal, but also much tougher substances including ceramic, silicon, and even diamonds. In addition, since this process is not limited to being used only on materials that are electrically-conductive, laser micromachining can thus be used in almost any type of industry.
Since laser micromachining systems are so accurate and efficient, they are very cost-effective to companies both large and small. Whether a company has a very large project to complete or a small one, the accuracy and ability to quickly complete various applications makes laser micromachining suitable for any industrial environment.
Creation of Very Sharp Features
As laser micromachining systems have been improved over the years, they can now produce extremely sharp features on the smallest of objects. Using optics and motion-control systems that are highly-configured to each application, the lasers can create features while leaving no or minimal material build-up or burrs. In addition, the lasers have been modified to work on various surfaces so that there are no heat-affected zones, ensuring the finished product will suffer no damage during the manufacturing process.
Unlike many CNC machining techniques, laser micromachining offers the advantage of contactless machining. As a result, these systems tend to last longer for a company than traditional CNC machines, since there is little to no wear-and-tear on the machinery. In addition, this process does not rely on load-bearing, allowing for larger and heavier items to be created or modified without worry of damage due to excess weight.
Unlike some technologies that manufacturers may be initially skeptical of, laser micromachining has been extensively researched by scientists and others, and has been found to live up to its expectations of accuracy, efficiency, and reliability. By having few limitations that would make it unable to be compatible with some manufacturing environments, it can be used 24/7 if needed by a company.
As more and more engineers, scientists, and designers explore the possibilities of using laser micromachining, most experts agree it will become even very useful in the fields of automotive, medical, and electronics manufacturing