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Title: Experimental and theoretical investigations of nanosecond fibre laser micromachining
Author: Williams, Eleri
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 871X
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2014
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Pulsed ytterbium-doped fibre lasers based on a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) architecture possess attractive characteristics over their Q-switched diode-pumped solid-state counterparts. These include a relatively low cost of ownership and a flexible operating window with respect to the pulse duration, shape and repetition rate. For micro machining applications, given this inherent large processing window available with respect to the pulse characteristics, the effect of process parameters on particular machining outcomes needs to be investigated. The literature review conducted identified four important gaps in the knowledge surrounding the nanosecond fibre laser machining of materials. These gaps included the optimisation of the nanosecond fibre laser machining during milling operations, with the aim of obtaining both high surface quality and material removal rates, as well as the need for complimentary theoretical and experimental studies on the basic nanosecond laser material interaction for a wide range of engineering materials. In addition, the characterisation of the nanosecond laser machining of bulk metallic glasses, and the investigation of processing conditions leading to crystallisation of their amorphous structure, were identified as knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. The first knowledge gap was the focus of Chapter 3. The particular parameters under investigation in this study were the pulse duration and repetition frequency, the pulse overlap, the scanning strategy and the distance between linear machined tracks when processing aluminium. The results showed that, for each of the pulse durations studied, the specific frequency at which both the highest energy and average power are delivered leads to the maximum material removal rate (MRR) achievable, and to high values of surface roughness. It was also observed that the lowest surface roughness obtained corresponds to a specific frequency range which is common for all pulse durations. Following this, a design of experiments was conducted for a given pulse duration with the aim of identifying an optimum combination of parameters with respect to the attained surface roughness while operating at the frequency resulting in the highest MRR. This optimisation study resulted in a 60% decrease in the achieved surface roughness and also showed that the distance between machined tracks had the highest influence on the surface finish among the parameters considered. In the following chapter, a theoretical model was developed to predict the topographical evolution of the single pulse craters as a result of the time-dependent temperature rise in the processed materials when the laser beam is incident on its surface. In addition to this theoretical study, in an to attempt to understand the laser material interaction on a more fundamental level, single pulse experiments were conducted at varying laser fluence values and pulse durations leading to the formation of single craters on the surface of a number of materials namely, titanium, silicon and silicon carbide. In particular, different pulse lengths were investigated at decreasing values of fluence until no visible effect on the material surface could be observed. Based on this investigation, the fluence corresponding to the ablation threshold for each material at different pulse durations could be found whilst identifying the relationship between the laser processing parameters and the dimensions of the single craters. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) micrographs of the craters were also used to observe phenomena such as melt ejection as a result of varying the process parameters. The experimental results were compared with the theoretical predictions and a good agreement between both set of data was found with respect to the achieved depths and diameters of the craters. The additional knowledge gaps were the focus of Chapter 5. In particular, the characterisation of nanosecond laser machining of a zirconium-based bulk metallic glass (BMG) was conducted using the approach employed in Chapter 4. Similar conclusions were reached with regard to the single pulse material removal behaviour when varying the fluence and pulse duration. In addition, milling of the material with different parametric combinations was implemented to investigate the crystallisation behaviour of the BMG. To complement these experimental tests, the theoretical model reported in Chapter 4 was further developed to predict the heating and cooling rates of the milling process. From this study, it was found that varying the process parameters of the machining of BMG results in a variation in the critical cooling rate (from the melt temperature to the glass transition temperature) which may result in crystallisation of the material.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery ; TS Manufactures