Abstract

In this work, self-mixing interferometry (SMI) is implemented inline to a laser microdrilling system to monitor the machining process by probing the ablation-induced plume. An analytical model based on the Sedov–Taylor blast wave equation is developed for the expansion of the process plume under multiple-pulse laser percussion drilling conditions. Signals were acquired during laser microdrilling of blind holes on stainless steel, copper alloy, pure titanium, and titanium nitride ceramic coating. The maximum optical path difference was measured from the signals to estimate the refractive index changes. An amplitude coefficient was derived by fitting the analytical model to the measured optical path differences. The morphology of the drilled holes was investigated in terms of maximum hole depth and dross height. The results indicate that the SMI signal rises when the ablation process is dominated by vaporization, changing the refractive index of the processing zone significantly. Such ablation conditions correspond to limited formation of dross. The results imply that SMI can be used as a nonintrusive tool in laser micromachining applications for monitoring the process quality in an indirect way.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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