What an ingenious idea! While a laser can operate as a micromachining tool, with its point of light (measuring just a few tens of microns) scanning the surface at full speed, without heating up the material, without contact and without burrs, what happens when the area to be treated extends beyond the scanner’s field of view? Until now, this meant moving the component, with the risk of visible join lines between successive engravings.
Additional module for in-house software
By adding an optional module to its proprietary software KYLA®, LASEA has developed a method for the continuous treatment of large or revolving surfaces. In other words, even the length of the area to be machined that is beyond the scanner’s field of view can now be engraved seamlessly. This is because, with this technology, it is the component itself that moves continuously under the beam.
In micromachining jargon, this laser process is known as economical joining, since the quality of continuous engraving is ensured by real-time synchronisation of the scanner’s mechanical and optical axes.
Compared with micromachining using traditional tools such as milling cutters, the use of lasers eliminates the need for the inevitable protecting, masking or sandblasting phases. Thus, on the same machine and without the need for repositioning, the laser is used to engrave, texture, decorate, angle and polish around the motifs, as in the image shown where the numerals and indices are left intact.
The example of this watch bezel speaks for itself. Its lunar-surface decoration – from which the numerals, with their smooth, polished upper surfaces, stand out – has been lined with the silky grains of a regular sandblast. And to think that it started out as just a smooth, flat disc, before being transformed by this innovative ‘continuous’ process!
Joël A. Grandjean