Laser light has very special properties which enable it to be used as a tool. It is monochromatic, which means that all light waves have the same wavelength. Furthermore, all light waves in the laser beam oscillate in phase with one another (coherence), and the light waves run virtually parallel to one another. The beam therefore, widens only slightly. The irradiance of the laser beam is also much higher than that of conventional light sources.
Laser cutting and laser drilling
The laser easily handles the most diverse of cutting tasks. These range from cutting gaps to the micrometer in wafer-thin semiconductor chips up to the high quality cutting of 30-millimeter steel plate. With laser drilling, the laser beam can cut the finest of holes in metal, plastics, paper and stone.
When guided, formed, and focused, laser beams are the ideal production tool. Whereas other procedures require large tools which exert enormous forces on the sheet, a laser beam uses a non-contact and therefore, wear-free method. Lasers can produce very precise contours and structures, and heat up the material only locally. As a result, the rest of the workpiece is subjected to only minimal thermal stresses, or none at all. With this flexible tool, you can create a wide range of different forms and contours on a single machine.
At the point where a focused laser beam hits the workpiece, the beam heats up the material to such an extent that the material melts or evaporates. Once the beam has fully penetrated the workpiece, the cutting process can begin. The laser beam moves along the part contour and continuously melts the material. In most cases a gas flow blows the melt down and out of the kerf. The kerf is barely any wider than the focused laser beam itself. During laser drilling, a short laser pulse with high irradiance melts and evaporates the material. This generates a high pressure, which forces the melt out of the hole.