Laser ablation is becoming increasingly popular for medical device applications that require coating removal of cylindrical components such as guide tubing and cables. It is also commonly used for advanced surface treatments, including decolorizing or foaming plastics and darkening or annealing metal parts.
First-rate medical laser ablation offers an iterative non-contact process and represents a clean, low-dust (or dust-free) method for selectively removing wire layers or areas. It is also a fully automated process with very high yields compared to other methods.
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The main applications for laser ablation include:
Layers/Coating Removal –
Laser energy is used to vaporize, melt or oxidize the existing coating. Lasers can also be used to make specific incisions in the lining for easy removal of the layer, manually or through an automated process. Bare stripping requirements are constantly increasing, with ends and centers having to be selectively removed. Recent applications include smaller diameter cables, such as those used to transmit electrical signals for stimulation applications.
Additional surface roughness –
This can be useful for increasing adhesive adhesion or increasing friction for easier handling.
Removal of the Insulating Layer –
Electrically insulated conductors can be removed from the polyimide insulating layer (trade name Kapton). Kapton effectively absorbs laser light of a specific wavelength, leaving a clean metal surface for electrical contact.
The laser ablation process can also remove hydrophobic coatings such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, trade name Teflon), silicone-based coatings, and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), including various polyamide (nylon) coatings.