Cutting edge: How lasers shape new possibilities in glass

laser cut

Glass isn’t as easy to cut as you think, but with CLT tools, shaping glass big and small is a refined process that can advance multiple industries.

 
 

What’s more impressive? Going big? Or going small?

Large sheets of glass the size of two king-sized mattresses to cover TV displays? Or glass wafers nearly invisible to the human eye that help computers process information?

The engineers at Corning like to think it’s both. And that’s why it’s crucial that Corning Laser Technologies (CLT) has developed processes to cut many sizes and shapes of glass.

No matter what CLT cuts, dices, or breaks, the glass can enable advancements in multiple industries, including consumer electronics, automotive, life sciences … and basically anything one can dream of. Think: AR devices, mobile consumer electronics devices, auto panels and dashboards, glass wafers for semiconductor applications, smart and functionalized glass for architectural purposes, and more.

But cutting glass isn’t as simple as one may think – cutting glass requires precise lines and meticulous tools to avoid rough edges and material loss.

CLT invented the nanoPerforation process, which uses ultrashort laser pulses, typically in the picosecond range, to make a guideline. A picosecond, for reference, is a casual one trillionth of a second. In a second step, a CO2 laser beam follows the nanoPerforated contour, resulting in a thermo-mechanical stress profile, which, in turn, causes a clean separation along the cutting contour.

And voila! Cut glass. Big glass, small glass, square glass, thick glass, thin glass… any glass can be cut to nearly any geometric shape with nanoPerforation, a process that boasts minimal material loss, minimal surface roughness, and very high uniformity from piece to piece.

 
At Corning, we’re proud of not only the products the company makes, but also the proprietary processes we invent to manufacture the glass that’s so vital to the world’s progress.
Michael Mueller
 

“At Corning, we’re proud of not only the products the company makes, but also the proprietary processes we invent to manufacture the glass that’s so vital to the world’s progress,” said Michael Mueller, business director, Precision Glass Solutions and Corning Laser Technologies. “The way we cut glass can give our advanced glass multiple different applications.”

CLT’s latest invention is its Enhanced nanoPerforation process, which is, as you may have guessed, an even better way to laser-cut glass, especially for customers wanting highly complex shapes and increased edge bend strength.

“For many applications, the standard nanoPerforation still is – and will be so in future – a good choice for customers,” Michael said. “But the Enhanced nanoPerforation can push the envelope to unprecedented levels.”

Make it break

And in the same way Corning succeeds at going big AND small, it also makes its glass tough AND breakable.

That’s right, breakable.

CLT’s latest machine, the CLT400S-WD, is a glass wafer dicing tool that pairs CLT’s laser processing technology with a well-established mechanical breaking process.

It works like this: after scoring a sheet of wafer-thin glass, the glass can be mechanically broken – or, diced – into small, uniform squares.

So, what do those little squares do?

Use them to make components for consumer electronics. Use them in micro-optics to make sensor lenses. Use them in micro-fluidics, a study on the microscopic level – such as cell separation and DNA amplification – that can lead to discoveries in the life sciences realm.

The nanoPerforation process, mechanical breaking, and CLT’s portfolio of laser tools are not just helping advance Corning glass; it’s helping advance the industry – no matter how tiny the application.

After all, what’s wrong with going small?

 
Corning’s lasers allow for shaping various thicknesses of glass, making customers’ visions a reality. Corning’s lasers allow for shaping various thicknesses of glass, making customers’ visions a reality.
 
 Just one of CLT’s powerful machines. Learn more about Corning’s systems here. Just one of CLT’s powerful machines. Learn more about Corning’s systems here.
 
 
Corning’s technology can cut chunky glass up to 10mm in thickness. Corning’s technology can cut chunky glass up to 10mm in thickness.
Crisp, clean edges and precise cut-outs work with whatever customers have in mind for our glass. Crisp, clean edges and precise cut-outs work with whatever customers have in mind for our glass.
For mobile consumer electronics, CLT is an important step in getting the glass just right. For mobile consumer electronics, CLT is an important step in getting the glass just right.
 

Read more about Corning’s people, technology, and partners that are changing the world and shaping society every day.

 

Glass and ceramics are the main characters in our story. But they’re also advancing the plot in the news.

Meet the people who push us to be better and develop the world’s next great advancements.

While the next steps toward progress might be hard to see, we’re making them crystal clear.