Presently surface microtexturing has found many promising applications in the fields of tribology, biomedical engineering, metal cutting, and other functional or topographical surfaces. Most of these applications are material-specific, which necessitates the need for a texturing and machining process that surpasses the limitations posed by a certain class of materials that are difficult to process by laser ablation, owing to their optical or other surface or bulk characteristics. Laser induced plasma micromachining (LIPMM) has emerged as a promising alternative to direct laser ablation for micromachining and microtexturing, which offers superior machining characteristics while preserving the resolution, accuracy and tool-less nature of laser ablation. This study is aimed at understanding the capability of LIPMM process to address some of the issues faced by pulsed laser ablation in material processing. This paper experimentally demonstrates machining of optically transmissive, reflective, and rough surface materials using LIPMM. Apart from this, the study includes machining of conventional metals (nickel and titanium) and polymer (polyimide), to demonstrate higher obtainable depth and reduced heat-affected distortion around microfeatures machined by LIPMM, as compared to laser ablation.

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