This paper presents an investigation into the dynamics of repetitive pulsed laser drilling of a visually transparent media using a CO2laser source. This enabled the use of a high-speed imaging system for observing, in real time, the behaviour of the drilling process in the laser drilled cavity of 1.5 mm diameter holes of up to 18.5 mm in depth. The work revealed that the instantaneous drilling velocity within each laser pulse can vary considerably from the average drilling velocity as a result of the non-uniform temporal pulse shape and the oscillation of the melt ejection rate. During beam breakthrough, both upward and downward melt ejections were observed to occur inside the drilled hole for a short period of time, after which the material was ejected through the exit end of the holes. It has been shown in this work that the downward melt flow velocity increases with hole depth for a positively tapered hole (from 0.09 to 1.43 m/s) and decreases with hole depth for a negatively tapered hole geometry (from 0.4 to 0.1 m/s), as a result of the change in the assist gas velocity inside the drilled hole with respect to the hole taper geometry. The mechanisms of forming the positively and negatively tapered holes in the transparent media have been correlated with the hole geometry and melt flow velocity. The work has demonstrated a new method of studying the melt dynamics in laser drilling. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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