Laser microforming is extensively used to align components with submicrometer accuracy, often after assembly. While laser-bending sheet metal is the most common laser-forming mechanism, the in-plane upsetting mechanism is preferred when a high actuator stiffness is required. A three-bridge planar actuator made out of Invar 36 sheet was used to characterize this mechanism by experiments, finite element method modeling, and a fast-reduced model. The predictions of the thermal models agree well with the temperature measurements, while the final simulated displacement after 15 pulses deviates up to a factor of 2 from the measurement, using standard isotropic hardening models. Furthermore, it was found from the experiments and models that a small bridge width and a large bridge thickness are beneficial to decrease the sensitivity to disturbances in the process. The experiments have shown a step size as small as 0.1 μm, but with a spread of 20%. This spread is attributed to scattering in surface morphology, which affects the absorbed laser power. To decrease the spread and increase the positioning accuracy, an adapted closed-loop learning algorithm is proposed. Simulations using the reduced model showed that 78% of the alignment trials were within the required accuracy of ±0.1 μm.
For assembly of micro-devices, such as photonic devices, the precision alignment of components is often critical for their performance. Laser forming, also known as laser-adjusting, can be used to create an integrated microactuator to align the components with sub-micron precision after bonding. In this paper a so-called three-bridge planar manipulator was used to study the laser-material interaction and thermal and mechanical behavior of the laser forming mechanism. A 3-D Finite Element Method (FEM) model and experiments are used to identify the optimal parameter settings for a high precision actuator. The goal in this paper is to investigate how precise the maximum occurring temperature and the resulting displacement are predicted by a 3-D FEM model by comparing with experimental results. A secondary goal is to investigate the resolution of the mechanism and the range of motion. With the experimental setup we measure the displacement and surface temperature in real-time. The time-dependent heat transfer FEM models match closely with experimental results, however the structural model can deviate more than 100% in absolute displacement. Experimentally, a positioning resolution of 0.1μm was achieved, with a total stroke exceeding 20μm. A spread of 10% in the temperature cycles between several experiments was found, which was attributed to a spread in the surface absorptivity. Combined with geometric tolerances, the spread in displacement can be as large as 20%. This implies that feedback control of the laser power, in combination with iterative learning during positioning, is required for high precision alignment. Even though the FEM models deviate substantially from the experiments, the 3-D FEM model predicts the trend in deformation sufficiently accurate to use it for design optimization of high precision 3-D actuators using laser adjusting.