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Laser drilling was not one of the first laser processes to be invented, but once its uses were realised, it quickly became an established and effective laser process in its own right.
Laser drilling is used in many industries, such as on printed circuit boards in the semi-conductor industry
We’ve previously explored more on how the process of laser drilling works and what some of the applications are that it is utilised for, but below we want to examine the advantages of laser drilling in more detail. Manufacturers quickly realised the great number of advantages that laser drilling boasted, and now we see laser drilling appearing across many industries, including in the electrical, semi-conductor, aerospace, medical, and automotive industries.
The laser beam that is used during the laser drilling process does not physically contact the material that it is working with, unlike other more conventional drills. By working in this way, laser drilling ensures that there is a minimal amount of material distortion caused, as well as no tooling wear or breakage. The laser beam is focused very accurately and precisely on a specific area, so while certain layers of a material will be melted away, it will only be the area where you want to have that effect.
A laser drilling machine can be easily adapted and automated, and once it has been setup it will produce consistent and accurate results time after time. The laser beam that is being used is extremely focused and powerful, so there is no doubt that it will cause the desired effect on the material that you are working with.
Laser drilling produces highly accurate results time after time, so you don’t need to worry about missing!
The laser drilling process allows the user complete control over beam duration, intensity, and heat output. This makes it a highly adaptable, versatile, and reliable process, as each application and situation can be approached in the correct way, without the need for multiple tools or drills. Thanks to this, high level of beam manipulation, laser drilling doesn’t just drill small holes or thru-holes but can drill holes of all shapes and sizes, and at various angles.
One of the biggest advantages of laser drilling is that it is effective at working with multiple materials, whether this is metals, plastics, rubbers, silicon, or even diamonds. Furthermore, as you as the user have total control over beam intensity, duration, and heat output, you only need one machine to work with these different materials. Alongside this, this one same machine is capable of producing hundreds of varieties of holes of all different shapes, diameters and sizes. The laser machine can be quickly and easily set up, allowing for much quicker and more efficient production times with less tooling. And some laser drilling machines allow for the performing of multiple functions at one time. Finally, the same machine is versatile enough to be used for other laser processes, such as laser cutting or laser welding.
There are different types of the laser drilling process, further adding to its versatility. The different types are single shot/percussion laser drilling, trepan laser drilling, and helical laser drilling; each has its own unique approach and set of advantages.
One of the main reasons that laser drilling has become so much more established over the last few decades over other more conventional forms of drilling is because of its ability to produce high aspect ratio holes.
This means that the depth to diameter ratio of a hole is greater than 10:1; something which more conventional forms of drilling are unable to achieve. This very deep and yet very precise hole is extremely vital in so many manufacturing processes, and laser drilling is the only viable option for performing this. Alongside this, more conventional forms of drilling were previously only capable of drilling holes with a diameter of around 0.003”, whereas laser drilling can go as small as 0.0004”. As various industries from around the world have continued to develop and innovate, parts have become smaller and components have become more complicated.
This has led to the need for much smaller, more accurate and more precise holes, and this is when the advantages of laser drilling have become more and more apparent to the various manufacturing industries.
Taking into account the above information that laser drilling is good at working with multiple materials and allows for a great degree of control when it comes to beam manipulation; it is hardly surprising that it is compatible with so many different industries and applications.
You will commonly find laser drilling in the aerospace, automotive, medical, electrical and semi-conductor industries, performing all kinds of tasks such as creating solar cells, making thru-holes for cooling and fuel flow, for making small dents for better gluing purposes, and for enhancing the quality of diamonds.
Laser drilling works on everything from the cars that we drive to the ovens and cell phones that we use; there is no doubt that we will see the use of laser drilling further increase over the years and appear in more and more industries and applications.
The above lists the wide range of advantages and benefits that laser drilling offers to its users, and it is clear to see why it has become so firmly established in various manufacturing processes. Our Continuous Wave Fiber Laser range and Pulsed Fiber Laser range are some of the best machines on the market when it comes to laser drilling; if you believe that these advantages are of benefit to you then simply get in contact with one of the team of experts at SPI Lasers.
Image credit: blickpixel, mickrh, and Mike Bird
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