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Consortium develops brittle glass cutting technique

12 Sep 2012

Filament cutting by laser pulses neatly achieves glass, LED and wafer "singulation". International group develops and distributes systems.

A novel approach to cutting brittle materials such as glass, sapphire and other key components of portable device screens has been developed by a trio of technology companies in Germany and the US. InnoLas Systems, Krailling, near Munich Germany, is licensing the process technology developed by Portland, OR, US-based, FiLaser, which uses ultra-short pulse lasers produced exclusively for the job by Lumera Laser, of Kaiserslautern, Germany. This complete turnkey system will be available exclusively through InnoLas's global sales network.

Conventional laser cutting is based on rapid heating leading to vaporization and material removal. This process is not only slow, but can lead to unwanted micro-cracks and a rough surface finish. Material cut with conventional laser processes often requires post-processing in order to remove the unwanted damage. These subsequent grinding and polishing steps are costly and time consuming.

Filament cutting employs ultra-short laser pulses in the picosecond range that cut brittle materials via plasma dissociation. This process ensures lower surface roughness, high bend strength, and a greater processing speed. This technique works well on chemically strengthened glass (such as so-called “Gorilla” glass) and sapphire, which have been difficult to cut with conventional methods. Filament cutting thus enables a higher quality, throughput and yield in the production of touch-screen displays for smart phones and tablet PCs. Further areas of application include cutting of silicon, silicon carbide, and microprocessor compounds such as GaAs at high speeds.

Market potential

Richard Grundmüller, CEO at InnoLas, commented, “This innovative laser cutting technology gives us access to new markets, where we can leverage our core competencies in laser machining and glass handling in order to offer our customers a clear competitive edge.”

Jeffrey Albelo, CEO of FiLaser, said, “We have created a novel laser process technology that is at the interface of physics and materials science. It is purely disruptive and we believe it will provide our customers with a compelling motivation to acquire this capability. We believe that this combination of these partner companies will produce world-class results and will aid in putting this capability into the hands of our customers with speed and total reliability. We have great expectations as the application potential spans far beyond glass, sapphire, and wafer singulation."

Dr. Achim Nebel, CEO of Lumera Laser, added: “Lumera Lasers' capabilities are a perfect fit for this new application. Previously the field of glass cutting had mostly been the domain of high average power CW lasers. The FiLaser technology utilizes unique aspects of our ultra-fast lasers providing a fast and high quality solution.”

InnoLas Systems produces laser systems for micro material processing, particularly in the photovoltaic industry, for semiconductors, electronics and precision engineering. InnoLas Systems designs and manufactures machinery solutions as standalone systems or for inline integration, perfectly adapted to industrial production conditions. Worldwide service and support ensures smooth setup and reliable operation.

FiLaser develops advanced laser technologies used for precision microengineering. The company says its most recent development offers "exceptional improvements" for the touch panel, LCD, cell phone display, automotive, LED, and semiconductor markets. Utilizing lasers from a broad capability range, FiLaser has a state-of-the-art clean room and laser applications laboratory within which it develops process solutions based on customer needs and the desired laser-material interaction.

Lumera Laser, a leading manufacturer of advanced solid state lasers for industrial applications, has pioneered the development of high power picosecond lasers for industrial micromachining in this quickly growing market segment. A worldwide network of representatives supports global marketing and technical service. Lumera's modern facilities include clean rooms for development and manufacture of the laser systems as well as an elaborate application lab. Lumera Laser's operations are ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org

Omicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHLASEROPTIK GmbHAlluxaChromasens GmbHEdmund Optics GmbHLightTrans International GmbHCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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