Laser Cutting in the Electronics Industry
We’ve previously looked at how lasers are used to cut materials, parts and components to form larger finished products in the aerospace and automotive industries due to parts becoming much smaller and more intricate.
This has been the same for the electronics industry. Gone are the days where computers need to be the size of rooms. Now we have computers in our hands’ thanks to advances with smartphones. This means that the electronic parts themselves, and the finished products that they complete, have become minute.
As the finished products have adapted, so too have the manufacturing processes that happen behind the scenes. One such development is using lasers to cut, and below we have looked at how this has impacted the various industries which comprise electronics.
Some background information
Electronics is unsurprisingly, a huge industry. As the world has become increasingly digital and technological, there has been an ever-increasing need to develop electronic parts and products.
The world has seen an increase in electronics consumption at a rate of around 5% per year, especially thanks to the increase in consumer electronics. This includes items such as smart phones, tablets, and TVs, helping the industry to have an expected worth of $838.35 billion by 2020.
Increased research and development into this industry sees parts getting smaller, products getting produced faster, all while looking for ways to increase efficiency and power while reducing costs.
Looking at a process that contains all of these factors, laser cutting was a natural choice. Below we have looked in more detail at how and why cutting with lasers is used so frequently.
Why is laser cutting used in this industry?
The biggest reason this technology finds such widespread use within the electronics industry is because of its ability to cut tiny and intricate parts. With these parts getting smaller in size, it was crucial to move away from more conventional methods of cutting that relied on human eyes.
Laser cutting was the answer to this. An automated process that can quickly switch between multiple applications and materials, it is able to cut small parts with ultimate precision and accuracy. All of this while leaving a smooth finish and a reliable end product.
Alongside this, the process also causes minimal heat damage to the surrounding area of the electronic part as it is a non-contact process, it has low maintenance costs, only requires cheap replacement parts, and uses a much lower power consumption than other processes. This is typically around 10Kw compared to the 50Kw of other cutting processes.
Finally, it is one of the safest forms of cutting processes on the market. While conventional methods will have the cutting tool running free, the laser beam used is required to be enclosed within a light box. When working with such small parts at such a rapid speed, this is a necessary and welcome addition.
How is laser cutting used?
Below we have looked at some of the many applications of this laser process within electronics.
Cutting of components
Laser are used to cut components which make up the finished products, such as the plastic and metal which encases mobile phones.
Whether it’s the components themselves or the composite materials used, lasers are great for working with many materials aside from metal.
Cutting of uSD cards and printed circuit boards
Electronics and semi-conductor industries are closely related due to the use of uSD cards and printed circuit boards, which lasers helps to cut. Whether it’s multi-layer circuit boards, flexible circuit boards or another type entirely, this is an adaptable process capable of working with a wide range of parts and products.
The biggest benefit that lasers provide are for the cutting of circuit boards is that no space has to be left free for the cutting process as was previously done Now circuit boards can be manufactured at an even smaller rate, safe in the knowledge that laser cutting will have no problems cutting it down.
Where else are lasers used for cutting?
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