Encyclopedia … combined with a great Buyer's Guide!

Sponsors:     and others

Laser Machining

Acronym: LBM

Definition: methods of laser material processing which involve the controlled removal of material

More general term: laser material processing

More specific terms: laser cutting, laser drilling

German: subtraktive Laserbearbeitung

Category: laser material processing

How to cite the article; suggest additional literature

Author:

Laser machining (or laser beam machining) denotes machining operations utilizing laser light in the form of a laser beam. Here, the term machining (with its modern meaning) denotes only those techniques of material processing which are subtractive, i.e., which involve the controlled removal of some material. Specifically, the following methods belong to laser machining, which are partly explained in more specific encyclopedia articles:

  • Laser cutting is the cutting e.g. of metal pieces, or even of ceramics and glasses, with lasers.
  • Laser drilling is the generation of holes with laser beams; a related method is laser trepanning, essentially the cutting of holes.
  • Laser milling involves the removal of material in a layer-by-layer fashion. It can be applied to large surfaces, e.g. of machine parts, but also for the generation of fine 3D structures (3D micromilling).
  • Laser scribing is the generation of some kind of elongated fault (e.g. a groove, or a structure containing microscopic cracks), which is often used to prepare a process of clean breaking. It is frequently applied in the semiconductor industry for processing wafers. It can also be applied to other materials such as glasses and ceramics.

When very small parts are machined, or at least very fine structures are generated on larger parts, the term laser micromachining is common. This can actually involve operations like cutting, drilling, milling and others.

Some kind of laser ablation is basically always involved in laser machining.

Historically, machining was not restricted to subtractive processes, but could also mean more generally the working on machine parts. However, the term was later refined to mean only subtractive methods. Non-subtractive methods, e.g. laser additive manufacturing and joining methods like laser welding and soldering, are therefore not considered to belong to the area of laser machining. Laser cleaning is also essentially a subtractive method, but not clearly included in machining.

Common Advantages of Laser Machining

Common advantages of laser machining methods are the following:

  • There are many laser beam machining processes which achieve results which would be impossible with other, more traditional machining techniques.
  • One does not require direct contact with machining tools. Therefore, one avoids wear-off of such tools.
  • The processing accuracy can be very high.
  • The processing can be very fast.
  • Further, laser machining is well suited for automation, i.e., for integration with modern technologies like CAD and robotics.

However, laser-based manufacturing techniques also have various specific limitations, which are explained in the more general article on laser material processing.

Applications of Laser Machining

Laser beam machining methods have been developed for a very wide range of materials, including various metals, ceramics, glasses, polymers (plastics), foams, textiles, leather, paper and wood. Many of those have become important in various areas of modern manufacturing technology, e.g. in the automobile industry, for ship building, aerospace, medical instruments and electronics. Therefore, laser machining should no longer be considered as a kind of non-conventional manufacturing.

Questions and Comments from Users

Here you can submit questions and comments. As far as they get accepted by the author, they will appear above this paragraph together with the author’s answer. The author will decide on acceptance based on certain criteria. Essentially, the issue must be of sufficiently broad interest.

Please do not enter personal data here; we would otherwise delete it soon. (See also our privacy declaration.) If you wish to receive personal feedback or consultancy from the author, please contact him e.g. via e-mail.

Your question or comment:

Spam check:

  (Please enter the sum of thirteen and three in the form of digits!)

By submitting the information, you give your consent to the potential publication of your inputs on our website according to our rules. (If you later retract your consent, we will delete those inputs.) As your inputs are first reviewed by the author, they may be published with some delay.

See also: laser micromachining, laser material processing, laser cutting, laser drilling
and other articles in the category laser material processing

preview

If you like this page, please share the link with your friends and colleagues, e.g. via social media:

These sharing buttons are implemented in a privacy-friendly way!