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Which materials can be laser drilled?


Frequently Asked Questions

The range of materials for which lasers can be used to drill holes is virtually endless. Below are presented some examples.

Organic materials
Lasers can be used for fast drilling of holes in any number of organic materials, an example being the drilling of holes in cigarette paper.

A large application area is drilling of micro-vias on printed circuit boards (PCBs) and printed wire boards (PWBs). There is an increasing use of dual wavelengths for the same hole in multilayer boards of different materials (i.e. copper and an insulator). Another example is the drilling of sound suppression holes in polymeric engine liners for aircraft. Other materials often used include PVC, PET, PEEK and Polyimide, plus polymer composites containing glass, Aramid or carbon reinforcement fibres.

Most metals can readily be laser drilled, ranging from steels, for example for inkjet printer heads and fuel injection nozzles, to nickel and cobalt-based superalloys for aero-engine applications (e.g. turbine blades and combustion chambers). Metals with very high reflectivity (like copper and gold) may be less suited for laser drilling.

The fact that laser drilling is a non-contact technique makes them very suitable for drilling of (brittle) ceramics. Examples of ceramics that have successfully been laser drilled include alumina, silicon nitride and carbide, and zirconia in the micro-electronics industry mainly.

Laser are quite capable of drilling diamond. Drilling of industrial diamond for wire drawing is widely acknowledged as the first industrial application of lasers.

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