How Laser Cutting Ceramics Can Complement Traditional Machining Methods by Precision Ceramics

Precision Ceramics has more than two decades of experience in designing and machining technical ceramics for a range of applications in industries ranging from automotive and aerospace to nuclear power generation and electronics. The company delivers quality and reliable technical ceramic products to these industries and is highly respected as a reputable solution provider.

Laser Cutting Ceramics

Precision Ceramics complements its standard everyday machining processes, including 4th and 5th axis machining centers, by offering laser cutting of technical ceramics. The company provides the most accurate results at a reasonable price using advanced technology. Several technical ceramics offered by Precision Ceramics can be laser machined. Different grades of alumina up to a thickness of 3mm can be laser machined.

Aluminum nitride in thickness of ≤1mm and zirconia in thickness of 1mm and 2mm can also be laser machined. Based on application, sapphire and quartz can be laser machined. Excluding sapphire and quartz, all of these materials are offered from stock with standard delivery times of two weeks for a finished product depending on the intricacy of the component being machined.

The Laser Process

Nd-YAG and CO2 are the two most widely used laser machining techniques. The Nd-YAG laser beam is emitted at 1.064µm wavelength and is 10 folds tinier than that of CO2 laser. The difference is the absorption capability of the materials at these wavelengths. For instance, the Nd-YAG laser is widely used for machining most metals due to their high reflectivity. Conversely, the CO2 laser is ideal for machining most non-metals, including ceramics, as they don’t absorb a single micron. Besides wavelength, other performance parameters such as power output, heat transfer, thermal efficiency, and beam shape also influence the machining quality of the two lasers. The thickness of the material being machined dictates the power to be applied.

Laser Machining Processes

Laser scribing and laser drilling and machining are the two general laser machining processes.

Laser Scribing

The laser scribing process cuts a series of laser holes in the material. After completion, the component is removed from the substrate. This process is typically used for machining more simple geometric components. Standard tolerances are summarized in the following table:

Scribed pulse depth: 35 - 50% standard across all thicknesses
Pulse spacing: 0.14 - 0.17mm between each laser pulse
Scribed edge to feature: +. 1/- 0.05mm
Scribe line to scribe line: +/- 0.05mm

Laser Drilling and Machining

The laser drilling & machining process involves continuous running of the laser through the material. It has high accuracy, but consumes significantly more time. Standard tolerances are summarized in the following table:

Length and Width: +/-0.002” (+/-0.051mm)
Hole and Feature Location: +/-0.002” (+/-0.051mm) from any machined area to hole centerline
+/-0.002” (+/-0.051mm) from centre of scribe line to hole centerline
Hole Diameter: +/-0.0015” (+/-0.0381mm)
Minimum Hole Diameter: Single shot: 0.003” (0.06mm)
Drilled: 0.004” (0.1mm)
Narrowest Profiled Slot: 0.004” (0.102mm)
Corner Radii: Minimum 0.006” (0.15mm)

Although these are standard tolerances, Precision Ceramics can also handle special requirements such as post definition work.

Conclusion

For both existing and new applications of technical ceramics, Precision Ceramics is well positioned to rapidly provide the suitable solution for prototypes as well as for full-scale production of components with a typical tolerance range of +/- 0.02mm on thickness.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Precision Ceramics.

For more information on this source, please visit Precision Ceramics.

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