A new micro-machining process that is motivated by the need to overcome the various limitations associated with the micro-EDM (μ-EDM) process is introduced. The limitations in μ-EDM are primarily due to the requirement of a conductive electrode and workpiece, tool wear, and complex wear compensation strategies. The new process, termed “laser-induced plasma micro-machining” uses a laser beam to generate plasma in a dielectric near the workpiece surface whose explosive expansion results in material removal by mechanisms similar to those that occur in μ-EDM.

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