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Research Papers

Comparative Assessment of the Laser-Induced Plasma Micromachining and the Ultrashort Pulsed Laser Ablation Processes

[+] Author and Article Information
Kumar Pallav

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Northwestern University,
Evanston, IL 60208
e-mail: kumarpallav2008@u.northwestern.edu

Ishan Saxena, Kornel F. Ehmann

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Northwestern University,
Evanston, IL 60208

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Manufacturing Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MICRO- AND NANO-MANUFACTURING. Manuscript received October 28, 2013; final manuscript received May 21, 2014; published online July 8, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Nicholas Fang.

J. Micro Nano-Manuf 2(3), 031001 (Jul 08, 2014) (9 pages) Paper No: JMNM-13-1077; doi: 10.1115/1.4027738 History: Received October 28, 2013; Revised May 21, 2014

The ultrashort pulsed laser ablation process is a well-established micromachining process and has been at the center of manufacturing research in the past decade. However, it has its own limitations, primarily due to the involvement of various material-specific laser and machining process parameters. The laser-induced plasma micromachining (LIP-MM) is a novel tool-less and multimaterial selective material removal type of micromachining process. In a manner similar to ultrashort pulsed laser ablation, it also removes material through an ultrashort pulsed laser beam. However, instead of direct laser–matter interaction, it uses the laser beam to generate plasma within a transparent dielectric media that facilitates material removal through plasma–matter interaction and thus circumvents some of the limitations associated with the ultrashort pulsed laser ablation process. This paper presents an experimental investigation on the comparative assessment of the capabilities of the two processes in the machining of microchannels in stainless steel. For this purpose, microchannels were machined by the two processes at similar pulse energy levels and feed-rate values. The comparative assessment was based on the geometric characteristics, material removal rate (MRR), heat-affected zone and shock-affected zone (HAZ, SAZ), and the range of machinable materials.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Experimental setup for machining by the laser ablation process

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Fig. 2

Experimental setup for laser focusing on the workpiece surface

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Fig. 3

Image obtained by the CCD camera while the laser beam is focused on the workpiece surface (borosilicate glass)

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Fig. 4

Typical image obtained by a CCD camera during machining of single-pass microchannels in stainless steel

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Fig. 5

Three-dimensional transverse depth and longitudinal depth profile of a typical microchannel machined in stainless steel (9.63 μJ and 0.1 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 6

Transverse depth profile of typical single-pass microchannels machined by the laser ablation process in stainless steel (7.78 μJ pulse energy level, 0.2 and 0.4 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 7

Transverse depth profile of single-pass microchannels machined by the LIP-MM process in stainless steel (7.78 μJ and 0.9 and 1.2 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 8

Three-dimensional and transverse depth profile of a typical microchannel machined in stainless steel by the laser ablation process (9.63 μJ pulse energy and 2 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 9

Longitudinal depth profile and its corresponding histogram of a single-pass microchannel machined by the laser ablation process in stainless steel (9.63 μJ and 0.2 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 10

Longitudinal depth profile and its corresponding histogram of a typical microchannel machined in stainless steel by the LIP-MM process (9.63 μJ pulse energy and 0.2 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 11

Transverse depth profile of typical microchannels machined in stainless steel by laser ablation at 7.78 μJ pulse energy, and 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, and 1.8 mm/s feed-rate values

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Fig. 12

Longitudinal depth profiles of single-pass microchannels machined by the LIP-MM process at a pulse energy level of 6.07 μJ and feed-rate values of 0.1, 0.2, and 0.6 mm/s, respectively

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Fig. 13

Microscopic images of typical microchannels machined in stainless steel by the ablation process (9.63 μJ, 0.3 and 1 mm/s feed-rate) (image obtained at the edge of a 125 thick stainless steel sheet)

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Fig. 14

Microscopic image of a typical microchannel machined in stainless steel by the LIP-MM process (9.63 μJ and 0.3 mm/s feed-rate)

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Fig. 15

Microscopic image of a typical microchannel machined in stainless steel by the LIP-MM process (9.63 μJ and 1 mm/s feed-rate)

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