The Laser Micro-Jet® is now a well-established technique for micro-machining and high-quality machining of hard materials. The advantages of the water-jet guided laser ablation are narrow parallel cut walls without focus adaptation, minimizing the heat-affected zone by the water cooling and the avoidance of burrs due to constant water flow.
To further enhance this innovative technology towards industry 4.0, automation and sensing packages have been implemented into the CNC platforms. Ease of use measures include self-calibration by an automatic adjustment of the water jet angle and an automatic alignment of the laser beam into the waterjet nozzle, guaranteeing precision.
The process has become self-correcting by adding a break-through sensor, which detects the end of cutting or drilling by a change in the processing light when the laser fully traverses the material. The suppression of unnecessary extra passes leads to a diminution in overall processing time, in some cases up to 20 %, additionally the cutting defect rate drops below 1%.
The integration of an automatic jet laminarity sensor adds the ability to detect waterjet degradation over time and is the first step towards machine self-check. Finally, Synova is developing automatic 3D-machining with depth sensing capabilities for a controlled and feed-backed ablation of 3D-profiles. An intelligent choice of toolpath, adapted to the LMJ-technology, will further advance feedforward machining capabilities.