4 Common UV Laser Depaneling Myths Debunked

Posted by on May 14th, 2016

It seems like there are more myths about UV laser depaneling than there are about the Loch Ness Monster. But unlike old Nessie, UV laser depaneling myths are much easier to debunk.

At LPKF we get a lot of questions about UV lasers and what people have heard they “can and cannot do”. If you believe these myths, it would seem that UV lasers are only appropriate for perhaps 10-20% of applications. The reality is very different. UV lasers are the most effective in terms of accurately and safely cutting at least 80% to 90% of whatever PCB board material comes across your production line – even ceramics.

So, let’s debunk the four most common myths right here and now.

Myth #1: UV lasers can cut only flexible materials.

Not so. UV lasers were originally designed to process flexible materials, but they have come a long way since then. LPKF UV laser depaneling machines can cut any rigid materials less than 2 millimeters thick, from FR4 to ceramics and any type of composite substrate in between. That’s one thing a router or any other mechanical method, other than a dicing saw, just can’t do without cracking the board. With the UV laser, you can cut ceramic, drill it, and remove metal to create a circuit on ceramic boards. And yes, you can still cut flex materials. That’s the versatility of UV lasers.

Myth #2: UV laser depaneling machines are just for depaneling.

Wrong again. Sure, depaneling is the main application of our machines, but you can do so much more with them. Since today’s UV lasers can cut through a wider variety of materials, its uses are limited only by your creativity. Think micro drilling, cutting contours on small and complex boards without mechanical stress, cutting plastic for medical devices with no dust or particles left behind. Also, we have advanced automation options and loading magazines that integrate with the laser to give you more control in a wider range of cutting scenarios. Need to justify the purchase of a UV laser? Look no further than Its flexibility.

Myth #3: UV lasers fry components.

Sorry. Just not true. Heat from the laser will not fry components at the edge closest to the cutting area. In fact, our affiliates in Germany recently tested the heat associated with the laser on rigid board applications. The results showed that the heat temperature generated by the laser, even in the most extreme conditions, was 100 C – much lower than what PCB boards and components experience in the SMT soldering process. 

Myth #4: Edge charring is destructive to the board.

You guessed it. Just a myth. While there can be some edge charring associated with UV laser depaneling on thicker FR4 materials, an independent series of tests by Siemens proved “that black stuff around the edges” is not conductive and does not short-circuit or contaminate the board components. However, charring does pose a cosmetic issue. But the good news is that charring can be minimized by reducing the cutting depth per cycle and optimizing the laser parameters when working with FR4 boards. That’s another big advantage of UV laser depaneling machines.

So don’t let anyone tell you that UV lasers will burn up your boards, damage components, or that laser depaneling machines are just for depaneling. Now you know the truth. And you can be more confident when you trade in your pizza cutter and router for the higher quality, greater accuracy, and increased yield that only UV laser depaneling can deliver.

 

Are you ready for the truth about UV lasers? Visit http://www.lpkfusa.com to learn about our UV laser depaneling machines.