Micromachining refers to cutting, marking, drilling, texturing, removing thin layers or engraving microscopic details on a seemingly small surface. Femtosecond laser micromachining helps with the removal of microscopic layers from surfaces, without heating or damaging the main component. The level of precision required for such applications is impossible to reach by hand, for example, making watches and jewelry.
Femtosecond lasers started appearing in commercial lasers in the late 20th century. The laser micromachining workstations are widely superior in terms of speed, precision, and autonomous processing. Faster than a nanosecond, a femtosecond represents one quadrillionth (10-15) of a second. Micromachining at such speeds increases quality and efficiency in high-volume production systems.
Advantages of the femtosecond laser micromachining technology
The advantages of the femtosecond laser micromachining technology have been demonstrated over the past decades bringing high level of quality due to a quasi-non-thermal interaction with matter.
The properties of the interaction with femtosecond laser pulses and its understanding of its deterministic behaviour makes it a more and more demanded tool in the industry. There are now commonly used in the industry in a broad range of application fields such as the biomedical, automotive and watch industry. This attractiveness for femtosecond lasers also comes from the technological development of the sources. Indeed, when 10 years ago the commonly commercialized femtosecond laser had a maximum averages power of 10W, they have nowadays reached a commercial average power of 100W with pulse energies up to 300µJ.
All the new characteristics allow to develop processes more and more performant making the laser technology always more competitive. In order to take advantage of those new advanced sources, it is necessary to improve and develop the engineering which must manage such high power either with high energy or high frequency.