Gateway Laser Logo

Laser Micromachining of Ceramic Materials

Pattern of Gold Conductor removed from PZT wafer, .004" feature size, .004" diameter holes through .010" thick PZT wafer, magnification 70x

Ceramic materials are found in multiple applications in modern industries. Unique properties of ceramics, such as high dielectric strength, thermal and chemical stability, mechanical properties and hardness, make them the material of choice for design engineers. Piezo effect, some optical properties, ability to be polished, thermal conductivity and many other unique qualities are used by different industries.

The main process used to make ceramic parts is molding followed by mechanical machining (before or after firing).

Conventional carbon dioxide and Nd-YAG lasers are widely used to cut, drill and machine ceramic materials when the edge quality is not a concern and when feature sizes are relatively large.

The need for smaller and smaller high-precision parts drives the technology development to apply Laser Micromachining to ceramic materials.

We have developed Laser Micromachining processes using high-resolution lasers to produce very small features on ceramics without heat-affected zones, microcracking, while at the same time producing good edge quality.

Three basic applications of Laser Micromachining applied to ceramic materials are: producing of small holes and slots of any shape through a wafer, cutting out (singulation) of devices from a wafer, and machining of conductive coatings on the surface (selective machining) without any damage to the ceramic body.

The following microscope pictures show examples of Laser Micromachining applied to ceramic materials:        

laser cutting flex circuits medical micromachining example
.020" OD washer made from PZT ceramic. The concentricity is less than .0002". There is no heat damage to piezo properties or conductive electrodes. .001" wide slot in an Alumina wafer .010" thick. Slotting of poled PZT ceramic coated with Gold or Silver is possible for up to .025" thick substrates.
.004" diameter holes spaced .007" apart for high density interconnects. The gold-plated alumina wafer does not show any damage to the coating. A pattern of .001" wide grooves
micromachined in WC cone.
A device cut from a larger wafer with
a .004" hole in the center.
Slots in .005" thick alumina, .005" wall in
between; magnification 100x