The process of Selective Laser Erosion (SLE) was investigated to study the effects of different process and laser parameters on the process outputs such as surface quality and erosion rate. The SLE process is a direct method to remove material in a layer-by-layer fashion due to high energy densities provided by the laser beam. In addition to its direct use as a subtractive manufacturing method, SLE may be used in combination with layer-additive techniques such as Selective Laser Melting (SLM). Such combination mainly makes sense when both processes can be performed with the same laser. However, one of the major problems involved in SLE process is the high number of the laser and process parameters (laser power, pulse frequency, scan speed, scan spacing, ambient atmosphere, etc.) and the complexity of the relations between them which has not yet been investigated completely.
This paper presents an overview of the laser erosion process with nano-second Nd:YAG laser pulses and the results of several single-factor experiments that were carried out to determine the influence of the major parameters on the depth of erosion per layer and surface roughness. Additionally, the relations between the parameters are studied to investigate the interactions between them. The results from single-factor experiments showed that some relations were highly governed by the power intensity of the laser beam and also that cross interactions between the parameters play an important role on the output characteristics. The paper explains how multiple parameters (spot size, pulse frequency, scan speed, scan spacing) can be combined to define two indirectly controlled geometrical parameters, namely the scan and pulse overlap factors. Those two parameters allow calculating the number of hits of the laser beam on a same location on the workpiece possible which is the first step in physical modeling the topography of the surface left behind.