Fiber laser induced surface modification/manipulation of an ultrasonically consolidated metal matrix

Ultrasonic Consolidation (UC) is a manufacturing technique based on the ultrasonic joining of a sequence of metal foils. It has been shown to be a suitable method for fiber embedment into metal matrices. However, integration of high volume fractions of fibers requires a method for accurate positioning and secure placement to maintain fiber layouts within the matrices. This paper investigates the use of a fiber laser for microchannel creation in UC samples to allow such fiber layout patterns. A secondary goal, to possibly reduce plastic flow requirements in future embedding processes, is addressed by manipulating the melt generated by the laser to form a shoulder on either side of the channel. The authors studied the influence of laser power, traverse speed and assist gas pressure on the channel formation in aluminium alloy UC samples. It was found that multiple laser passes allowed accurate melt distribution and channel geometry in the micrometre range. An assist gas aided the manipulation of the melted material.