Effects of laser beam radiance (brightness) of the fibre and the Nd3+:YAG laser were investigated during surface engineering of the ZrO2 and Si3N4 advanced ceramics with respect to dimensional size and microstructure of both of the advanced ceramics. Using identical process parameters, the effects of radiance of both the Nd3+:YAG laser and a fibre laser were compared thereon the two selected advanced ceramics. Both the lasers showed differences in each of the ceramics employed in relation to the microstructure and grain size as well as the dimensional size of the laser engineered tracks—notwithstanding the use of identical process parameters namely spot size; laser power; traverse speed; Gaussian beam modes; gas flow rate and gas composition as well the wavelengths. From this it was evident that the difference in the laser beam radiance between the two lasers would have had much to do with this effect. The high radiance fibre laser produced larger power per unit area in steradian when compared to the lower radiance of the Nd3+:YAG laser. This characteristically produced larger surface tracks through higher interaction temperature at the laser–ceramic interface. This in turn generated bigger melt-zones and different cooling rates which then led to the change in the microstructure of both the Si3N4 and ZrO2 advance ceramics. Owing to this, it was indicative that lasers with high radiance would result in much cheaper and cost effective laser assisted surface engineering processes, since lower laser power, faster traverse speeds, larger spot sizes could be used in comparison to lasers with lower radiance which require much slower traverse speed, higher power levels and finer spot sizes to induce the same effect thereon materials such as the advanced ceramics.
Bibliographical noteNOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Optics and Laser Technology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Optics and Laser Technology, , (2013)
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