Laser-assisted precision chemical machining process yields 25 to 30 microns feature sizes

Laser-assisted precision chemical machining process yields 25 to 30 microns feature sizes

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By eeNews Europe

The process combines laser technology in the form of advanced Laser Direct Imaging (LDI) with the etching process to achieve new levels of accuracy and repeatability, with etched channel / feature sizes in the region of 25-30 microns with tolerances generally around +/-10% of the material thickness.

Compared to conventional etching, edges and apertures are crispier and cleaner when the image has been exposed by LDI, says the company.

Functional components that use etched channels to transport liquids include diffusion bonded plate heat exchangers, mixers, reactors, heat sinks and fuel cells. Plates are profiled and channels generated simultaneously in a single etch process, before being stacked and laminar bonded, or simply held under pressure to form a functional matrix. Precision chemical machining imparts no mechanical or thermal stress on the plate that could compromise its planarity (flatness). In comparison, alternative manufacturing methods such as CNC milling, stamping or laser machining, can generate thermal distortion and machining detritus that can compromise stack bonding.

The versatility of the etching process enables designers to vary the size and shape of channels and incorporate headers, collectors and port features, knowing that they can be produced economically without the need for extra process steps.
A further benefit of the process is the ability to control the etchant chemistry, which in turn controls the non-directional surface finish within the channels. As well as achieving a four-fold improvement in pitch accuracy across an 800x600mm sheet of components, the LEEP process guarantees top/bottom side alignment of component features. This enables highly accurate channels to be produced on both sides of the plate, and also simultaneously. In this way high channel densities can be achieved, and by interlacing top and bottom side channels, stack heights can be minimised and thermal transfer improved.

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