Lasers come up in any number of high-precision processes in manufacturing, research, design, and other fields. Lasers are able to behave very predictably, making laser techniques highly repeatable. All of these properties push the drive for more and more laser-based services.
One such service is laser skiving. Laser skiving, in particular, has unique elements to offer in various manufacturing spaces.
What Is Laser Skiving?
Laser skiving is a technique that is used to remove thin layers from a material. It has a wide range of applications that include creating 3D features like cavities, cleaning surfaces, exposing underlying materials, creating etches or cuts to shape topography.
Laser skiving is a selective ablation process that can remove one material with or without affecting an underlying material. Skiving methods can be classified as material boundary or control depth dependent.
How Does It Work?
The entire concept is built around the idea of controlling the amount of energy delivered to a material over time. By doing this, a laser can remove exact amounts of material to desired depths.
Largely, laser skiving is controlled by determining how long the laser ablating energy should be applied to a surface and to what specific pattern.
Matching Wavelengths to Material Properties
Another important component of laser skiving is the laser wavelength selection. As every material has inherent properties that govern how it absorbs electromagnetic radiation, knowing your materials is paramount to designing a laser skiving pattern.
Essentially, the skiving experts will pair laser wavelengths in accordance with material properties. By doing this, they can ensure that the material will absorb the desired amount of energy over a given time interval, thus only removing layers as desired.
Therefore, each different material may require a different laser for the skiving process. Some materials are better served by infrared lasers while others require the use of UV lasers. A good skiving service requires multiple lasers of varying wavelengths in order to service a wider range of materials.
Wavelength matching, along with carefully timing the laser application is how skiving maintains its high levels of precision.
An Overview of Applications
Laser skiving is useful in any number of applications, many of which are related to manufacturing. Going over a few prominent examples can highlight specifically how laser skiving adds value to manufacturing processes.
Prime examples of laser skiving can be found in medical device manufacturing. Laser skiving (removal) of insulating materials to expose an underlying metal wire or creating small geometries in multi-lumen catheters for drug-delivery are a couple examples. The laser skiving process allows the production of large numbers of catheters that meet strict design tolerances.
Laser skiving is often used in the production of printed circuit boards. Skiving can create a topology in the board that helps with circuit mapping. Additionally, skiving can be used to remove excess dielectric material without harming the PCB’s stack-up of materials underneath.
Printed circuit board manufacturers’ typical applications include Kapton (polyimide) removal for contact or pad exposures on flex circuits or limited depth cavity formations on rigid circuits.
Micron Laser has developed processes to handle a wide range of materials from flexible dielectrics to rigid, reinforced materials. UV skiving can be used to remove a thin layer of a metalized surface to act as a surface prep process prior to plating or soldering.
Whatever your skiving needs, MLT has the solution.
Micron Laser Technology is well-known for its PCB laser services and as experts in laser part manufacturing in both the medical and aerospace industries. We thrive on providing a service or product that advances product design or manufacture. We understand that our customers’ success is directly tied to our own. Our services and product offerings are infused with the founder’s commitment to “service, price, turn-time, and consistency”.