Femtosecond Lasers Cut Incredibly Fine Features with Submicron Accuracy

As products and components in the medical, life sciences, and microelectronics industries become miniaturized and more complex, with the need for extremely tight tolerances, manufacturers increasingly turn to femtosecond lasers for their micromachining needs. In fact, some features can only be cut with femtosecond lasers, which expands design options for engineers and designers. Features can be as small as a few microns, with submicron tolerances.

Femtosecond lasers are the fastest, highest-precision lasers in micromanufacturing today, cutting two- and three-dimensional features or structures on flat or curved surfaces. With femtosecond (1 fs = 10−15 s) pulses of laser light that are extremely well focused, these lasers can cut complex shapes with high dimensional accuracy. Because the laser pulses are so short, heat is not transferred beyond the material being removed, eliminating the occurrence of heat-affected zones (HAZ). This allows for more intricate features to be cut with less burring or discoloration, especially in sensitive materials or thin films.

Because of their superior peak power, femtosecond lasers can process nearly any type of solid material, including layered, mixed, laminated, or coated materials, with the highest quality and precision.

Popular uses of femtosecond lasers are:

  • Drilling high-precision holes in a variety of patterns
  • Removing material in virtually any shape or pattern
  • Micro texturing 3D-lattice structures or dimples on part surfaces
  • Micro texturing patterns or grooves into the sides of molds
  • Joining dissimilar materials through laser micro texturing
  • Both laser texturing and polishing to enhance surface performance

One of the greatest benefits of femtosecond lasers is the reliability and repeatability of the micromachining of complex features and patterns with great accuracy. Features can be a small as a few microns, including 3D blind features with high-precision depth resolutions and clean, sub-micron kerfs. The lack of burring or redeposited debris reduces or eliminates most post processing needs. Rapid processing and the elimination of secondary finishing processes save time, reduces costs, and gets products to market faster.

Lasers can be automated to run 24/7 for large-volume or high-priority parts, maximizing production efficiency and speed to market. Femtosecond lasers provide consistent, repeatable quality, thanks to high constant speed and automated platforms. Process repeatability is maximized by the higher pulse-to-pulse energy stability femtosecond lasers provide.

Laser Light specializes in solving customer production challenges. As exciting as these capabilities are, femtosecond lasers are not always the best choice for a project—even when proposed by the customer’s engineering team. Depending on the precision needed, a different laser type, such as a nanosecond laser, might be just as effective, manufacture parts faster, and cost less.

For more information, or to discuss if femtosecond laser machining is a good choice for your next project, contact our Client Success Team for an immediate consultation.