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ALE glossary

Send mail to: sales@appliedlaser.co.uk with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © Applied Laser Engineering Ltd 2002

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Mask Ablation

This type of engraving involves the selective laser removal of a resist or mask layer which has previously been applied to the workpiece surface.  The workpiece is often a metal roll and the roll with laser engraved mask is often subjected to a further chemical process such as etching.

Material finishing

In order to produce the required level of gloss or deburring it is sometimes necessary to apply some kind of surface finishing after the engraving process.  Established methods include electro-polishing or laser glazing which can be much more suitable than traditional mechanical polishing methods.

MBAnilox

The ALE Multi-Beam Anilox system typically takes a fibre laser input and utilises a variety of beam delivery optics including and beam amplitude modulator and deflector.  With suitable software and signal control this allows the focussed spot of the laser beam to be turned on/off and scanned to produce a multitude of engravings including many anilox type engravings.

MBGraphic

The ALE Multi-Beam Graphic system typically takes a fibre laser input and utilises a variety of beam delivery optics including and beam amplitude modulator and deflector.  It is optimised to give suitable scan range and focussed spot size.  With suitable software and signal control this allows the focussed spot of the laser beam to be turned on/off and scanned to produce a multitude of engravings including many high speed Mask Ablation engravings.

Modulated CW lasers

A cw laser can generally produce a continuous laser beam at a variety of different amplitudes.  The rate at which the laser can internally change amplitude to another is relatively slow.  Consequently and external modulator device is required

Multi-hit

This mode of multi-hit anilox engraving dwells the axial traverse of the laser spot locus for the duration of the number of roll rotations required to engrave the number of hits per cell in a given column of cells.  When they are complete the laser pulsing onto the roll is stopped, the beam locus is moved along one column width to the next column of cells and the cycle repeats.  This has been achieved in a number of ways.  Three such ways are Clunk-clunk, wobble and wobble emulation.

Multiple lasers

There are a number of reasons to consider the use of multiple lasers on the same engraving.  By adding several similar lasers and combining their capabilities by suitable beam delivery it is possible to increase the productivity and built-in redundancy of an engraving system.  An example of this would be an ALE Gemini system.  The combination of a number of different lasers can make benefit of the capabilities of each of the different lasers to achieve an enhanced combined effect not possible with either of the lasers alone.  It is possible to combine many different types of laser, short pulse, long pulse, cw and different wavelengths.  An example of this would be an ALE Hybrid system.

Pulsed lasers

Depending on the type of engraving required, the substrate material and the required productivity a wide range of pulsed lasers have to be considered including femtosecond (fS), picosecond (pS), nanosecond (nS) and microsecond (µS) lasers.  Each of these lasers has different capabilities including volumetric removal rate and material interaction.  The choice of pulse energy, peak power, average power and pulse duration can all have dramatic effects on the end engraved result.  Lasers with control over each of these parameters offer particular flexibility.

It is often desirable to combine a pulsed laser with external beam modulation.  This can add enhanced amplitude control and gating of the pulsed laser, known as ‘cherry picking’ which gives an improved result over that achievable without external beam modulation.

Snow-jet

This is a cleaning method related to dry-ice blasting.  It differs in that liquid CO2 is used with a compressed air jet to produce a targeted jet of small crystals of frozen CO2.  The crystals are less abrasive than the chunks of frozen CO2 seen in dry-ice blasting.  The ‘snow’ impacts the contamination and then explodes the contamination away from the substrate as it sublimes to gas.  A number of systems are commercially available.

Substrate materials

Many substrate materials are possible with the direct laser engraving process.  These include most engineering metals, plastics, ceramics and elastomers.  The choice of material is often controlled more by the final application than by the engraving process.  However, the choice of material can have a bearing on the choice of laser in terms of cw or pulsed and the most suitable wavelength of laser.

Ultrasonic cleaning

This method of cleaning involves submersion of the engraved workpiece into a controlled liquid bath and then subjecting it to high frequency sound waves created in the liquid.  A number of systems are commercially available.

 

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ALE GLOSSARY - Page 3