In this work, it is shown how femtosecond (fs) laser-based selective glass etching (SLE) can be used to expand capabilities in fabricating 3D structures out of a single piece of glass. First, an investigation of the etching process is performed, taking into account various laser parameters and scanning strategies. These results provide critical insights into the optimization of the process allowing to increase manufacturing throughput. Afterward, various complex 3D glass structures such as microfluidic elements embedded inside the volume of glass or channel systems with integrated functional elements are produced. A single helix spring of 1 mm diameter is also made, showing the possibility to compress it by 50%. Finally, 3D structuring capabilities are used to produce an assembly-free movable ball-joint-based chain and magnet-actuated Geneva mechanism. Due to minimized friction caused by low (down to 200 nm RMS) surface roughness of SLE-produced structures, the Geneva mechanism was shown to be capable of rotating up to 2000 RPM.
Source: Optics Express