Materials fall loosely into a couple of categories: Insulators and Conductors. Long wavelength infrared is very efficient with Insulating materials (generally ceramics/polymers). Our long history with CO2 lasers brings experience that can smooth the journey with sensitive materials or designs that are on the edge of producibility. Shorter wavelength infrared works well with conductors (generally metal). Shorter in wavelength still, UV can work well with both insulators and conductors.
Ceramics are used for high reliability applications requiring good heat dissipation and or very low expansion under thermal cycling. Commonly laser cut thickness for industrial ceramics range from .005” (.13mm) to .100” (2.5mm) . Regularly processed ceramics include: 90-99% alumina, aluminum nitride, magnesium titanate, ferrite. Other common insulators include fused silica/quartz and sapphire.
Generally, polymers are plastics and rubbers. They are usually insulators. However, they can be blended with conductive or magnetic material. Most plastics are easily laser cut. Applications include gaskets, high frequency stripline circuits, and microwave circuit noise reduction. Polymers are used regularly in microwave applications. Laser cutting polymers avoids the problems punching or mechanical routing can cause due to the softness of plastics or embedded glass fibers.
Metal foils .001” (.025mm) thick to plates .060” (1.5mm) can be processed at Accu-Tech – depending on composition. Metals are often structural, as in fixtures, but they can be particle filters, electronic noise filters, as well as heat sinks.
Common metals for laser processing include: copper, aluminum, nitinol, silver, solders (including AuGe), Nanofoils, stainless steels, nickel, brass, bronze, tungsten, titanium.
Many high performance composites are fair game for Laser processing, from aluminum-silicon alloy (CE6) to FR4 to carbon/carbon fiber. Composites are often favored for their light weight properties.