Creating functionality with laser texturing

Ultra-fast femtosecond lasers remove material not through heat, but with the instantaneous creation of a plasma. The technology really lends itself to high precision application of functionalities by way of texturing.

Laser technology has seen rapid advances taking place over the last ten years. New developments have meant that lasers have become cheaper, more compact and energy efficient, thereby giving rise to new production technologies including additive manufacturing, laser ablation, laser welding and laser hardening. One of the recent developments has meant that reduced costs have made possible the commercialisation of femtosecond pulsed lasers (10-15 s) and so this equipment is now within the reach of production companies and research institutes.

Femtosecond lasers are ultra-fast, pulsed lasers used for removing material. The difference between CW, micro and nanosecond lasers is that femtosecond lasers do not heat the material, but instead create a plasma almost instantaneously. This is because the pulses spread faster than the heat through the material by phonon transport, i.e. transport using vibrations from individual atoms. With micro and nanosecond lasers the material is removed by melting and vaporising, which in turn leads to micro cracks, melting zones and greater surface roughness and residues. These often undesirable side-effects do not occur with femtosecond lasers, which makes them especially interesting for precision work, such as cutting small components, or applying surface functionality via texturing. The laser can also be used with virtually every type of material (assuming it is light-absorbing), from plastics through to hard ceramics.

Read more on Techniline (in Dutch/French).

Sirris is investing in precision texturing

In order to help develop this technology for the Belgian manufacturing industry, Sirris has purchased a femtosecond laser texturing machine (Lasea LS 5-1). With a spot size of 20 µm it can carry out high precision texturing on plastic, metal and ceramic surfaces. One of the biggest challenges for us and also where we want to support businesses, is in the development and growth of the specific knowledge required to use texturing as a way of creating surface functionality: the connection between textures (geometry), materials, functionality and laser parameters.

So that we can give you more information about this technology, we will be explaining by way of specific examples a number of functionalities applied with femtosecond laser machining over the coming months. Therefore keep an eye on our blog and Techniline!

(Source pictures: LASEA)

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