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Multi parallel ultrashort pulse laser processing

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Ultra-short pulse lasers present a new class within high-performance laser beam sources for industrial applications [1]. Due to the outstanding features of the radiation emitted from these sources, which are addressing important physical principles of light-matter interaction, traditional processes of deposition of light energy into the material can be circumvented. With pulse durations in the picosecond and femtosecond range, the absorbed energy is concentrated in the material to a few nanometers, so that thermal damage to the materials can be avoided.

These properties have generated numerous processes in in precision machining at solar cells, batteries, injection molding tools and electronic components [2]. Due to the current developments for power scaling of ultrafast lasers in the kilowatt range, also potential applications for macro processing are obtained, which opens large markets in other than the micro processing field [3]. Thus, with high-power ultrafast lasers, fiber reinforced composites can be processed without thermal influence and large surfaces can be provided with friction-minimizing microstructures. However, using high power ultrashort pulsed lasers with high repetition rates in the MHz region can cause thermal issues like overheating, melt production and low ablation quality as long certain parameter sets and fluence ranges have been considered. High ablation quality only can be achieved, when the processing fluence is closed to the ablation threshold, which requires new processing strategies and innovative system components. Beside ultra high speed scanning using polygon scanners the use of multiple laser beams provide the best and most versatile high power ablation solution. With switchable single beams out of a special light modulator or a diffractive optical beam splitter high ablation rates can be achieved while maintaining the high processing quality of ultra short pulse laser ablation. With this approach a next step up to an all optical manufacturing system can be provided.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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