Laser microprocessing miniature products

Chemnitz, Germany – The integration of lasers for the subsequent treatment of thin films guarantees the highest efficiency and throughput with the best possible precision and minimal material damage.

Chemnitz, Germany – The integration of lasers for the subsequent treatment of thin films guarantees the highest efficiency and throughput with the best possible precision and minimal material damage. Laser machining systems have successfully established themselves for the processing of flexible substrates where they guarantee a high material throughput and accordingly large working areas, dramatically reducing the manufacturing costs for components. The special feature of this technology is the "on-the-fly" processing of the substrate with the laser, in other words, processing without stopping the winding process.

Thin-film technologies on flexible substrates have proven themselves suitable for applications in the photovoltaic industry. However, the processing on flexible substrates, for example: on CIS/CIGS-based systems, now offer considerable advantages over processing on rigid substrates, as these can be produced and processed more cost-effectively and quickly. During manufacturing of these thin-film solar cells, a substrate is coated with conducting and semiconducting materials. These ITO, silicon, and metal films are a maximum of a few micrometers thick and are selectively ablated using lasers with different wavelengths (IR, VIS, UV) in the process steps P1, P2 and P3. A prerequisite for the highest precision in laser structuring is the use of a laser with optimal beam quality (TEM00) and very high pulse repetition rates. All these processing methods guarantee a high efficiency of the finished solar cells with minimal material damage and the lowest possible loss of material.

Another field of application of thin-film technologies can be found in the rapidly growing market of the OLED display and illumination industry. The different organic semiconducting thin films need to be structured in the course of the manufacturing process of an OLED. This was previously achieved with mechanical and/or wet chemical procedures. Now laser ablation offers a novel, innovative solution for the structuring of thin films. One of the main applications is the selective structuring of the anode film. The nearly transparent, semiconducting indium tin oxide (ITO) is usually used as the anode material. The use of ultra-short-pulse lasers guarantees the gentle structuring of the anode without damaging the glass substrate beneath.

A progressing trend to miniaturization in electronics, semiconductor production, and medical engineering is necessary to reach continually smaller and more particularized structures in various substrates; here traditional production technologies reach their limits. Processing by ultra-short pulse lasers offers the best conditions for the required quality and precision due to an almost athermal ablation.

3D-Micromac AG developed a compact, modular constructed system for processing with ultra-short pulse lasers in order to fit these requirements and successfully placed it on the market. In addition to an individual design of this system, 3D-Micromac focused on high quality, precision, reliability, and flexibility. As a standard feature its microSTRUCT, CTM is equipped with a picosecond laser source. Additionally a second laser source can be integrated. Furthermore, there are two processing stations in the system, which are used in combination with fixed optics as well as scanner systems, such as galvanometers or polygon scanners, depending on customer specific applications.

3D-Micromac AG is a supplier of customized laser micro machining systems, a service provider for materials and surface machining, and a solution provider for the development of specific production processes.

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