Laser ablation is a process that Laser Services uses to remove layers of material while leaving the base material intact. Most commonly used for removing material to create solder dams, it can also be used to remove unwanted traces on circuit boards to salvage your parts instead of scrapping and remaking. For small-piece PCB orders or large IC production runs, laser ablation provides the utmost flexibility and processing speed for a wide range of medical and aerospace electronics applications. Laser ablation is incredibly accurate and forms solder dams with less material and less labor than any other PCB or IC solder damming process. Laser ablation can remove conductive inks and metal foils without causing damage to the carrier substrate, and unlike chemical etching, laser ablation uses a dry processing method controlled by digital technology. As a result, masks and hazardous by-products are eliminated.
What's the basic difference of laser ablation vs. solder damming?
To prevent unwanted solder flow, many PCB and IC designers will install dams formed of glass or other dielectric materials — using traditional printing or firing techniques — to keep solder from shorting active areas on a circuit. The resultant dams may be as
small as 0.030 inches wide.
While solder dams control solder flow by steering the solder where it is supposed to go, laser ablation controls flow by using a laser pulse to create a trench around solder pads. That way, solder does not flow through the trench, contacting nearby conductors and causing a short.
Learn more in our Tech Brief: "Laser Ablation - The Alternative to Chemical Etching and Solder Dams"
Want to know more about Laser Services?
We're located just north of Boston, Massachusets in Westford, MA and we would love to show you around. We service the entire US with many laser machining services and stock all materials in-house, so contact us with your application support questions any time.