Aerospace and working tool industries are in a high demand of high resistant functional parts which can provide safety and sustainability at reasonable cost. Laser technology delivers hereby a well-defined portfolio of instruments which are already delivered and certified in these markets. High throughput can be achieved by high power long pulse radiation, whereby hybrid processing is of further advantage to raise the total yield of the process. By contrast, high quality products can be achieved by application of UV and/or short pulsed laser radiation. However, the latter occurs at the price of relatively low throughput. Structuring of industrial parts with high material removal rates with low material impact is, therefore, not that evident.
The Laser MicroJet®, being the proprietary technology of Synova S.A., is already applied in the numerous applications serving markets such as diamond, working tools, aerospace, energy, watches, medical and semiconductor industries. The technology is centred on the coupling of laser light into a hair-thin laminar flow water jet, typically in the order of 25 to 120 microns in diameter. During cutting or grooving applications, the laser is used to ablate and melt the workpiece whilst the water-jet serves the purposes of cleaning, cooling and guiding. Low heat affected zone, absence of the heat accumulation and high throughput are characteristic features of the process. Until now, material removal rates (MRR) up to 13 mm3/min in Inconel and 2 mm3/min in PCBN have been reported. These materials are of high interest for aerospace and working tools manufacturing, respectively. Application of a new 400 W green laser together with the Laser MicroJet® has provided a tool to improve the MRR while retaining the low impact on the material. Inconel structuring has been progressed by increasing the MRR up to 30 mm3/min. In the paper we report both the new system and application results providing a turnkey instrument package for the addressed industries.