For over thirty years, Photo Solutions has stayed on the cutting edge (in this case, literally) of innovation. This month we’re getting more technical about our laser-cutting capabilities with our laser filament process—and the applications our clients can apply with this precision technology.
What’s The Difference Between Laser Filament and Laser Cutting?
First, a quick differentiation. Laser filament is a specialized technique within the laser cutting process. The technique utilizes ultra-short-pulse laser processing in the picosecond range to cut glass and other brittle materials. Whereas the traditional laser-cutting process removes material during ablation, laser filamentation cuts by material disassociation. This increases the material’s edge strength, especially compared to diamond CNC machining or scribe and break processes.
In addition to increased edge strength, laser filamentation has the ability to cut small radii, holes, and freeform shapes with high-precision straight walls and very small chip sizes. Moreover, this can be done without the cost or the lead time of hard tooling, making the service more efficient and budget-friendly.
We’re proud to announce that we have added the innovative laser filament process to our suite of laser cutting services at Photo Solutions for the highest accuracy glass machining.
Photo Solutions’ Laser Capabilities
Laser cutting has been in practice since shortly after the laser’s invention in the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until nearly 50 years later that researchers at the University of Michigan discovered laser filamentation. The powerful pulses emitted during this process halt “the collapse of the beam as the interplay between diffraction, self-focusing, and plasma defocusing ensues.”
Photo Solution’s laser filamentation has the ability to cut:
- Substrates up to 17” x 25”
- Thickness from .5mm to 6mm
- An accuracy to 5um
- With a low surface roughness with Ra of 1um
- Edge chips less than 20um
- Without taper cuts
These capabilities allow us to hone our laser-cutting capabilities to be even more precise for our clients. Additionally, with a lower surface roughness and tiger edge, our client’s components can perform optimally in increasingly complex applications.
About Our Laser Filament Equipment
After moving into our new Wilsonville, Oregon facility in 2020, we invested in vision recognition laser equipment to better serve our clients. We can ensure more accurate pattern-to-part outlines by using a camera to automate quality control during the laser cutting process. With this computer-driven process, we can compensate for rotation and distortion and achieve greater precision, repeatability, and speed than manual cutting.
Additionally, the short pulse width achieved with the laser filament technique we now offer results in highly localized energy use, smaller heat-affected zones, and more efficient use of material. This machinery can perform non-gap cuts for homogenous cut edges and a higher overall mechanical strength. As stated above, laser filamentation has the additional benefit of small radii and undercuts that can allow for more complex customer specifications.
Different Applications For Your Engineering Solutions
Over the years, we’ve served dozens of clients from the medical to metrology industries, so we understand how highly specific optical components need to be. Just as important to these varying applications are related services like laser-cutting. Depending on your engineering problem, our laser filament technique can be applied to the following:
- Ultra-thin glass, soda lime glass, Gorilla glass, Sapphire, and borosilicate glass
- Encoder discs
- Microfluidic lab on chip
- Cover glass
- Automotive glass
- Consumer electronics
- Through holes and vias
- Glass wafer cutting
- Display technologies
- And more
As with all of Photo Solutions’ services, we work with customer specifications to ensure we’re manufacturing and producing precisely what you need. As a custom shop, we’re always happy to speak with customers about unique components or applying services like laser filamentation to different materials.
Other Photo Solutions Services
In addition to our laser-cutting service (and laser filamentation technique), we also offer microlithography, micromachining, and diamond dicing services.
During the microlithography etching process, the highest quality materials and machining are needed for the optical component. The optical and chemical etching lines involved in this process are similar to semiconductor wafer fabrication. Photo Solutions’ microlithography services extend to patterns on glass, calibration standards, reticles, and targets. With careful attention to detail, we can accurately image features as small as 2um on glass and 10um on PET film.
Micromachining removes microscopic pieces of material for high geometrical accuracy—meaning precision is paramount. With our high tolerance machining, we can achieve this minute precision for various industry applications on customer-provided PET, Kapton, ceramics, glass, aluminum, and other difficult-to-machine materials. In addition, we accurately machine features on substrates with registration as tight as +/- 5um.
For hard and brittle materials, we use high-speed diamond dicing. With customer-provided glass, quartz, and ceramics, our high-tolerance dicing and sawing achieve tolerances as tight as +/- 5um. Additionally, we can cut slots, and part outlines to imaged features up to 180mm square. As part of our diamond dicing service, we offer finished parts packaged into Gel-Pak containers, waffle trays, or tape with pick-and-place equipment.
Precision Photonic Engineering Beyond Laser Filament
Photo Solutions crafts custom optoelectronic components from encoder discs to reticles to meet needs across industries and project scales. With the addition of our new laser filament technique, we can help meet the needs of more complex projects and achieve unmatched precision. For laser-cutting services and more, get in touch for a free quote.