Laser materials processing is highly affected by the existence of surface plasma. The absorption of surface plasma during drilling alters the power intensity distribution of the incident laser beam across the irradiated spot. The present study is carried out to measure the electron number density and temperature using a Langmuir probe while a mathematical formulation is conducted for the absorption coefficients due to electron-ion, electron-neutral atom collisions, inverse Bremsstrahlung, and photoionization processes. Consequently, a computer program is developed to compute the relevant absorption coefficients as well as the overall absorption coefficient. The laser power intensity distribution before and after the plasma absorption is computed at a plane 2.6 mm above the workpiece surface. It is found that 13% of the reduction occurs in the incident laser output power intensity at this plane in the plasma. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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