Micro-machining encompasses highly diverse tasks such as drilling, engraving, structuring or cutting, often with extremely challenging precision and speed requirements. Here, laser scan processes are superior to other methods, e.g. in terms of dynamics, precision and processing of complex patterns or structures. The spectrum of processed materials ranges from plastics, glass and ceramics all the way to diverse metals.
High-performance scan solutions enable short process times, high dynamics and high precision even for moving workpieces (on-the-fly), as well as workpiece position detection and autonomous scan system tracking for further processing.
Synchronous control of the laser and scan system is essential for best processing results. And in addition to an excellent scan system, high-resolution control is also needed. The widely used XY2-100 protocol with only 16-bit position resolution is often no longer adequate for micro-machining. Here, the 20-bit SL2-100 protocol, developed and introduced by SCANLAB, is ideal. High-end scan systems and control boards such as the RTC 5 support this protocol. For micro-machining, the RTC 5 additionally provides specialized functionality such as:
for calculating arcs directly as micro-vectors to avoid quantization effects with ultra-fine structures and high speeds
Automatic laser control
for automatic real-time adjustment of “laser active” control signals – and thereby laser power – even during execution of vector and arc commands
Pulse-picking laser mode & output synchronization
for straightforward control of scan systems synchronously to an externally clocked free-running pulsed laser (e.g. USP laser).
for perfect corners with minimal increase in process times thanks to time-optimized implementation
To fulfill micro-drilling's difficult requirements, special application-specific scan systems are often needed.
"Jump and shoot" applications – such as drilling microvias in circuit boards or solar cells (metal-wrap-through or emitter-wrap-through) – require scan systems that provide maximum throughput with highest precision:
Drilling of injection nozzles requires a scan solution for high-precision fabrication of freely-defined geometries such as ultra-fine positively/negatively conical or ideal cylinders and round or elliptical bore holes with high aspect ratios in the sub-millimeter range:
Micro-engraving can produce extra-fine structures such as for fabricating stamp keys and medallion keyways, or 3D forms such as cast molds. For tasks such as deep-engraving, processing often takes several hours. Here, 2D or 3D scan systems must exhibit lowest drift along with highest precision and dynamics.
For micro-cutting, too, scan systems transform the laser into a seasoned tool capable of cutting ultra-fine structures or tight radii quickly, precisely and without post-processing. In conjunction with USP lasers, effectively simultaneous execution of multiple processing steps is possible. Here, required contours can be rapidly, repeatedly traversed with high repeatability accuracy and no thermal impact on the material.
Micro-cutting is typically applied to materials such as hardened glass, diamond, sapphire glass (corundum), gorilla glass, ceramics or memory metals.
Surface micro-structuring can modify a part's properties. For example, it can be given an electronic functionality, a lotus effect or slip resistance. To economically create these structures on large surfaces, too, scan systems are used for quickly and precisely positioning the laser beam. Extreme challenges must be met to cost-efficiently process metal or plastic parts with the lotus effect, thin-film solar cells (roll-to-roll process), displays or smart devices. For such applications, ultra-low-drift premium scan systems are often needed.
The scan system requirements for micro-sintering are similar to those for deep engraving: lowest drift, highest precision and high dynamics.
High-performance scan systems enable fabrication of high-precision metal functional parts used in the medical technology, aerospace and watch-making industries.
Particularly suitable for micro-processing are high-performance scan systems, ideally with lowest dither and 20-bit resolution – such as the intelliSCAN se/de series: