Laser Micro-Machining

Owing to their precision and versatility, lasers have become an indispensable tool in a wide variety of manufacturing fields. Ultra-short-pulse, high-repetition-rate lasers are particularly well suited for micro-machining because of their ability to vaporize matter without generating heat, making them ideal for machining very small, very precise patterns, especially in materials that are difficult or impossible to machine by other methods.

Through decades of research and investment in support of its target fabrication efforts, General Atomics has developed an array of unique laser machining capabilities. GA has in-house Ultraviolet Nanosecond, Green Nanosecond, and Green Femtosecond laser workstations that can perform a wide range of machining tasks such as laser scribing and texturing, high aspect-ratio hole drilling, and additive or subtractive laser machining of engineered defects.

Laser-drilled holes in a tantalum collimator
Laser-drilled holes in a tantalum collimator for the National Ignition Facility manufactured with a femtosecond laser. The individual holes are approximately 200 µm in diameter.

GA’s Inertial Fusion Technology micro-machining group has expertise in working with many different metals, plastics, and foams, in a variety of geometries. Among other capabilities, our engineers have developed integrated software to map, measure and then laser-polish domes off of capsules. This initiative has pioneered first-of-its-kind laser-ablated patterning, including dimpled or rippled patterns applied on the inside surfaces of such capsules.

glow-discharge polymer capsule
The glow-discharge polymer capsule at left has had a 2 µm wave pattern (center) abated on its interior using a laser. A similar pattern has been ablated on the interior of the high-density carbon capsule at right.

The GA IFT division regularly develops new micro-machining techniques to meet exacting customer requirements. For more information on our capabilities, contact the representative listed at left.