Droplet-assisted laser micromachining of hard ceramics

Hard ceramic materials like tungsten carbide (WC) are extensively used in high value manufacturing, and micromachining of these materials with sufficient quality is essential to exploit its full potential. A new micro-machining technique called droplet assisted laser micromachining (DALM) was proposed and demonstrated as an alternative to the existing nanosecond (ns) dry pulse laser ablation (PLA). DALM involves injecting liquid micro-droplets at specific frequency during the nanosecond laser micromachining to create impulse shock pressure inside the laser irradiation zone. The impulse shock pressure is generated due to the explosive vaporisation of the droplet, during its interaction with high temperature laser irradiation zone. In this paper, the DALM uses a nanosecond pulsed Nd:YAG laser to machine tungsten carbide substrate. The results suggest that the impulse shock pressure generated during the DALM process can transform the melt ejection mechanism of the ns laser micromachining process. The change in ejection mechanism results in a 75% increase in material removal rate and 71% reduction in the spatter redeposited compared to conventional dry ns laser micromachining.