ESI’s New Gemstone Changing the Rules for Laser


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I sat down at CPCA 2015 with ESI’s Mike Jennings, who explained the company’s newest addition: Gemstone, an ESI-designed and manufactured laser system, with 10,000 guaranteed hours, which is poised to change the rules in flex and other printed circuit processing. Jennings also discusses ESI’s new relationship with WKK, and an increased presence in China.

Barry Matties: Mike, start by telling us the news about the new Gemstone laser system.

Mike Jennings: We've added a new member to our 5335 family of laser processing systems, and it's called Gemstone. We're starting to get away from numbers and instead use names for our systems. We had a meeting with a customer in Germany that has a laser drill that we manufactured in 1996, which is still in production today, almost 20 years later. The durability of that lends itself to a family of products we're going to use in our business unit going forward: Cornerstone, Gemstone, and Keystone.

Matties: Regarding Gemstone, is it mainly tuned for the China market and the flex market?

Jennings: It's tuned for all markets. Because of the proprietary ESI-designed and manufactured laser, it changes the rules in flex circuit processing and in other PCB processing, for three reasons: the repetition frequency is three to four times faster; the efficiency of the pulse is so much higher; and we're using a squared temporal pulse as opposed to a Gaussian temporal pulse.​

ESI_GemStone600.jpg

Matties: Can you explain that?

Jennings: Gaussian can be used to describe both the spatial pulse, which is the form in three dimension that the pulse takes in space; but there's also a temporal side, and the temporal side is the shape of the pulse as a function of power and time, with power being in Y and time being in X. Traditionally, the industry has used the word Gaussian pulse as an all-inclusive of both functions, because that's how it has been.

For the first time, we're taking a Gaussian spatial pulse in three dimensions, and we're using a squared temporal pulse. Rather than taking half of the pulse to rise to full power, and half to drop from full power, we rise to full power in less than one nanosecond, maintain full power for almost the full pulse width, and then fall in less than one nanosecond. Above the ablation threshold, which is really what does the work on a laser, you find that we have much higher time and higher energy above the ablation threshold, combined with faster frequency, resulting in much better throughput—between 10–15%, if not more.

Matties: Aside from the throughput, what's the advantage of your laser over mechanical? Why would someone go this route?

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