Laser Applications Newsletter

18 May 1999
Laser Kinetics Inc.
Mtn. View, CA 94041
Issue 1, Vol. 3


Our last newsletter was December 1998; at this rate, we do about 2 a year. At least it's not a major spam threat.

On May 15th we moved a couple of blocks to 277 Castro Street. Besides providing us with more space, it increases the restaurant choices for lunch. Laser Kinetics' mailing address is now:

PO Box 391614
Mountain View, CA 94039
All other contact information remains the same.

We have constructed and installed a pair of laser maskant scribers for an aerospace component manufacturer. In this context, maskant refers to a vinyl resist used in chemical milling. Here is a brief synopsis of the process:

In aerospace, it is important to make the lightest possible parts. One method of saving weight is to remove unstressed areas of a component. This can be done mechanically, but it is cheaper to do it by throwing the part in an acid bath and waiting until the metal is the right thickness. Of course, there are usually some areas that you don't want to dissolve. This is where maskant is used. The vinyl adheres to the metal and resists the attack of the acid.

Rather than paint the maskant on the areas to be protected, the usual technique is to dip the whole part and then remove the vinyl from the areas to be milled. Originally, this was done by hand with templates and X-acto knives (You just have to cut the outline; once you lift a corner, the maskant peels quite nicely)

Lasers are used to automate this process. A CNC-controlled CO2 laser replaces templates and razor blades. This provides the manufacturer with greatly increased accuracy and speed.

Laser Kinetics designed and built laser scribers to be mounted on the customers' CNC units. The CNC's are custom units designed to handle very large parts (10 feet in diameter and 6 feet high). The laser and optics are manipulated on a 3-axis table, while the part is attached to a rotary axis.

Based on our application tests and the mechanical constraints of the systems, we selected a Coherent G-100 laser for this process. This is a very neat 100 watt laser. It's 30 inches long and has an integral RF power supply, so it was not necessary to snake any RF cables up to the moving axis.

We incorporated a real-time power meter and a coaxial television camera for accurate alignment of the beam to the part. Additional optics include an anti-reflection isolator (a good idea when you're aiming a laser beam at a metal surface) and a beam expander. The optical assembly is mounted to a base plate which is kinematically mounted to the moving axes. The focusing lens is on a 3-axis crash sensor.

These scribers have been in full production since their installation. Some pictures of them will appear at the next revision of our web site.

Coming soon:

International Congress on the Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics
November 15-18, 1999
San Diego, CA

ICALEO is the world's premier laser applications conference, and this year it's in San Diego again (you should try to attend conferences in San Diego even if they're not of any use). At ICALEO, you can hear about the newest developments in laser processing and talk to the people who are doing them.

For more information, check the ICALEO '99 page at the LIA's web site at

LIA's phone number is (407).380-1553 Fax: (407).380-5588

Call for Papers:
LASE 2000
High Power Lasers and Applications
January 23 to 28 2000

SPIE's LASE 2000 Symposium will have programs on laser engineering, microengineering and manufacturing. Its Silicon Valley location insures strong emphasis on microelectronics, computer component manufacturing and biomedical applications.

Feedback is important to us. Do you want processing tips, news about developments in laser applications, laser fundamentals or something else? Do you have any comments on the material presented above? E-mail us at with your comments and suggestions.

Call 650 575-4919 or e-mail us for more information.