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Laser Cutting Polymers

High Resolution Laser Technology is applied at varying wavelengths in the Ultra Violet Light range for laser processing polymers. The technology of choice and wavelength may depend on the material type. Certain polymers cut more cleanly than others at a particular wavelength.

ND:YAG Lasers with Diode Pumped Solid State Lasers apply a direct write method for laser processing; the laser beam is directed by high speed galvanometers to trace the machining pattern. Small features or patterns can be cut out to as small as 25 to 50 um depending on level of thickness of the polymer material.

Excimer lasers in the short UV use mask projection from the laser source that illuminates a non-contact mask etched with the features of interest. The imaging process allows all the features on the mask to be cut at the same time increasing the throughput of the process. Ultimately, no matter which laser technology is applied to a particular application success will depend on what kind of polymer is used as the material of choice, the types and size of features to be micromachined as well as thickness of the material.

Ophthalmological implants for Intraocular Lens Replacements (IOL) for cataract surgery is an example of an application where UV technology is applied to microfabricate haptics for connecting replacement lenses to the eye.

Below is a partial listing of different classes of polymers that can be micromachined:

  • Polyimides
  • Polyurethanes
  • PEEK
  • Mylar (PET)
  • Pebax
  • Nylon
  • ABS
  • Acrylic (PMMA)
  • Polyether Block Amide (PEBA)
  • Polyetherimide
  • Silicones
  • Liquid Crystal Polymer
  • Viton
  • Polystyrene
  • PVDF (Kynar)
  • ABS
  • Parylene
  • Epoxy Preforms
  • Thin Multilayered Films