21st International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics,
Scottsdale, October 14-17, 2002 (ICALEO 2002) ISBN 0-912035-72-2
K. F. Kleine, Laser Group, Guidant Corp., 3200 Lakeside Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95054, USA
B. Whitney, Laser Group, Guidant Corp., 3200 Lakeside Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95054, USA
K. G. Watkins, Laser Group, Department of Engineering, University of Liverpool, Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GH, UK
The medical device industry has created a big demand for laser micro machining. Flashlamp pump solid-state lasers are currently used for this application. Many of these lasers are configured to operate near the diffraction limited beam performance to maintain a very small kerf width. In order to meet yields and up-time requirements reliable laser operation and low maintenance are required. Under production conditions it is a challenge to keep such a laser system performing with the consistency required. The fiber laser concept could provide benefits in order to maintain high up-time and high yields. The single mode fiber laser does not need mirror alignment. Diode pumped fiber lasers also reduce maintenance, as flash-lamp changes are eliminated. The compact air-cooled design also helps to save expensive clean room space on the production floor. Recent improvements in average laser power now make the fiber laser suitable for industrial cutting applications. The focus for this work is therefore laser micro-cutting of stainless steel stent implants and this paper presents the first micro-cutting results in stainless steel. Kerf width and surface quality on the sidewall are of special interest. Also presented are laser operating conditions to minimize Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) in stainless steel.