Laser ablation is the removal of surface coating from base material. This is a good technic for use in coating deposition and removal. It can be used in composition of different material but a common case is in metal. As the coatings are hard and thin it is difficult to use other methods which would not damage the base metal. Also with laser it is easier to control the thickness of the removed layer. In addition flexible patterns can be removed without the requirement of masking or an additional process of adding a protection layer like in chemical etching. It is a direct method without pre or post processing making it cost effective, convenient and time saving. Two examples of laser ablations are hilited here.
The first example is – there is demand in manufacturing technics like in production of connectors to selectively remove resist coatings on metal for subsequent plating process. By opening selective windows and just plating the important areas, significant material cost savings can be realised for elements like gold and other precious metals. This machine is used to do rapidly ablation of connectors in a reel form moving at high speed through the tool. Special laser characteristic is needed to remove the resist coating cleanly and completely. Beam shaping optic is used to create the exact shape required for the plating process. The design is complicated by the need for rapid changeover between different product models and material flow direction and angle.
The second example – The laser machine purpose is to ablate off specific gold coating shape area from metal surface of items like connectors. The high peak pulse laser is able to achieve a good removal result at a very high rate per hour. Using a low cost YAG laser the machine was able to perform the same function as other more expensive laser type.
See also Laser polishing and Laser wire stripping