Laser drilling is the process of creating “popped holes” or “percussion drilled” holes in a material, which is achieved by pulsing a laser beam on a particular area repeatedly. The material subject to laser drilling is vaporised and melted layer by layer until drill holes are created. This process will differ depending upon the thickness of the material, the number of holes that need to be created, and the size (width and depth) of these holes. Drilling with lasers is renowned for its high levels of precision, which can be managed carefully by monitoring beam intensity and duration. The entire laser drilling process is achieved without any direct contact with the material surface. Laser drilling can be compared to both laser ablation and laser cleaning, which remove areas of a material through the use of focused heat from lasers.
Laser drilling is in widespread use throughout many industries, but especially in aerospace (e.g. cooling holes), automotive (e.g. injection nozzles), electronics, medicine (e.g. needle holes) and electronics (particularly in the semi-conductor industry). Laser drilling is particularly suited to low batch manufacturing and also for use in prototype designs (where expensive tooling costs can be eliminated). Traditional drilling techniques find it hard to replicate consistently the quality required in larger quantity batches, but with laser drilling every production piece is 100% perfect every time.
There are many benefits and advantages of drilling with fiber lasers. Amongst the top reasons for laser drilling adoption has been the high accuracy levels combined with repeatability and consistency of results. Material diversity is another benefit – the process can be used with a wide variety of materials, metal drilling (e.g. aluminium and stainless steel) is very popular as is the drilling of ceramics, silicon, graphite composites, plastics and other industrial materials, even diamonds can be laser drilled!
With laser drilling the user has ultimate control, allowing for even the finest of drilling requirements. Infact one fiber laser can create hundreds of different holes of varying shapes and sizes, which can easily be integrated into other processes, either via the laser or through other equipment. Laser drilling processes are fast to set-up and require less tooling than historic processes did. The whole laser drilling process is non-contact, which minimises material distortion, eliminates contamination threats whilst also eliminating contact “wear and tear”.
Why not also read our advantages of laser drilling application insight?
View the SPI Lasers video – “Micro Drilling 0.3mm Aluminium with a Fiber Laser”
Choose an SPI Laser to meet your entire laser drilling needs from the smallest to the largest of holes. Lasers make it possible to machine very small, blind, unusually shaped and precisely tapered holes. They can drill holes at steep angles and process difficult-to-machine materials. A single set-up can produce hundreds of different sizes over a 3D surface. Whether the requirement is for percussion or trepan style drilling an SPI laser can be programmed to deliver highly accurate drill holes!
SPI Lasers range of lasers offers hundreds of different possible outcomes for your drilling needs, from small, blind, precisely tapered holes, small high aspect ratio holes to larger ones. A single-set up of our machinery can produce an almost limitless amount of sizes across a 3D surface.
We have produced a page devoted to frequently asked questions with answers about laser drilling, click here to read this page. Read through our collection of application insights and postcards to gain a deeper understanding of how the laser drilling process works in practice.
‘Applications Insights’ are detailed articles on specific applications. ‘Application Postcards’ are bite sized insights on specific applications, designed to be easily digested in a matter of minutes.
Fiber lasers can be used for a range of applications, a particular favourite is drilling. Working with many materials, fiber lasers are especially useful at drilling silicon wafers. These are especially used in printed circuit board and solar cell... read more >
Pulsed ns lasers are best known for marking, engraving and other ablative processes. Their use for metal joining is relatively new and opens up new possibilities through the unique control of heat input offered by these laser sources. Their low... read more >
Laser drilling is one of the main applications, which the SPI Lasers range are equipped to deliver. In this latest question and answer, we provide an explanation as to what this application is. Laser drilling is used across many industries and there... read more >
Laser drilling is one of a number of fiber laser applications and is used to create holes of various shapes, sizes and dimensions with the ultimate of precision in what is regarded as a highly efficient and safe process. But many customers ask... read more >
Laser drilling is a growing application area and fiber lasers are often found to be the laser of choice due to their versatility. This webinar delivered by Dr Jack Gabzdyl covers the following areas: • Why use fiber lasers for drilling •... read more >
Laser drilling is a widely used process across multiple industries including; aerospace, automotive, electronics and medical. Drilling with a Fiber Laser can be used across a wide range of materials including various metals (aluminium, copper,... read more >
Everything that we use, from the shoes we wear to the transport that we take to the house that we live in has gone through some kind of manufacturing process. The manufacturing system is one of the largest on the planet, and it involves all kinds of... read more >
Laser drilling is just one of a number of processes that our Fiber Laser range is designed for. Many of the laser processes bear striking similarities, and it can sometimes be difficult to easily distinguish between them. For example, laser drilling... read more >
Laser drilling is the process whereby thru-holes are created in a material by pulsing a focused laser repeatedly to break it down layer by layer. Each of the laser processes, whether it is laser marking (FAQs), engraving (FAQs), cutting... read more >
The semi-conductor industry involves all of the different companies and processes that are involved in the design, development, manufacture, and sale of semi-conductor products and devices. Semi-conductors themselves are materials which can conduct... read more >
The medical sector, as with many of the other sectors that laser drilling plays a part in such as the automotive or aerospace industries, will affect us at some part of our... read more >
The electronics industry is an industry that we all play a part in every single day, whether this is by being involved in the design, development, manufacturing or marketing process itself, or through the host of electronic items that we... read more >
The aerospace industry bears many similarities to the automotive industry in that it involves a whole host of processes, with design, development, production, manufacture, marketing, sales, and consumer use of the aircrafts being... read more >
The automotive industry, which involves everything from the design, development, production and manufacture of automobiles to the marketing and selling, is a huge industry. It involves many different intricate parts and processes, all of which must... read more >
Laser drilling is a process that is capable of working with multiple materials to produce many different results. One of the materials that it is most commonly worked with are various types of metal, a material that is found in pretty much every... read more >
Laser drilling was not the first kind of laser drilling process that was used and instead found itself come about as more of a development from the laser cutting process. However, this was over half a century ago, and since then laser drilling has... read more >
Laser drilling has become one of the most widely used laser processes in the world, and has found uses in several different industries including the aerospace, automotive, electrical, semi-conductor and medical industries and... read more >
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... read more >
We’ve explored laser drilling with a great deal of content on this website, so we thought it would be good to include some videos of the process in action as well! You can find five great YouTube videos about laser drilling below, with a small... read more >
Laser drilling has become one of the most established and efficient manufacturing processes used today, and we see it appear in a number of different industries, especially in the automotive, aerospace, medical, semi-conductor, and... read more >
With many different types of laser processes available, each with their own set of unique qualities and benefits; it can sometimes be hard distinguishing between the different types and figuring out which one would be most suited to... read more >
Our range of Fiber Lasers drill metals, coated metals, some ceramics and graphite composites. These Lasers create discrete pulses of controllable energy, peak power, and temporal profile (or shape) which are well suited for laser... read more >
Our redENERGY range of pulsed Lasers can be used for a wide range of precision drilling applications in thin <1mm materials. The high beam quality offered by the EP Laser means that spot sizes of <30microns can be achieved resulting in very... read more >
Our range of redENERGY Pulsed Lasers can be used to drill 5 holes per second in 0.38mm alumina. The photo above shows the output side that is 75-80 microns in diameter. The input side is less than 100 microns in diameter. These holes have been... read more >