Microhole Drilling

190,000 10-micron holes in metal substrate.

190,000 10-micron holes in metal substrate.

If you are looking for a quick and cost-effective way to get small holes drilled in almost any substrate, you have come to the right place. 

Potomac Photonics is passionate about microholes.  We have some of the most advanced hole drilling capabilities and are continually developing new processes to drill holes as small as 1 micron.  Our Engineers will work closely with you to fully understand the requirements for your microholes (eg. materials, part thickness, desired feature geometries, taper, etc.) and recommend a process that will satisfy both your prototyping and production needs.

Examples of Materials that Potomac has microdrilled include:

Polymers: Polyimide (Kapton), Polycarbonate, PEEK, LDPE, HDPE, Silicone, ABS, Nylon, BoPET (Mylar) and more. 

Metals: Stainless Steel, Copper, Nitinol, Brass, Tantalum, Titanium, Aluminum and more

In addition to microhole drilling polymers and metals, Potomac can drill Ceramic, Silicon Wafers, Glass and more.

Our Microhole Drilling experience includes (but not limited to):

Catheter Hole Drilling: Our catheter hole drilling technology is capable of drilling precise, clean holes in a variety of materials and configurations including single and multi-lumen tubes.  During the prototyping phase, our direct-write laser systems can be set-up rapidly to ensure quick turnaround during critical design and regulatory phases.  In production, our multi-beam laser systems can reduce drill time and increase throughput significantly.

Optical Fiber Connectors:   Extremely tight tolerances on hole diameter and position are critical for optical fiber connectors and alignment devices.  Utilizing the latest laser technology and high precision Aerotech stages that are calibrated to a NIST traceable standard, we are able to meet or exceed the requirements of some of the most challenging fiber optic applications.  In addition, we continue to improve our capabilities to drill thicker materials that are often required for placement of  fiber optics with diameters of 125 microns and greater.

Probe Cards: Vertical probe cards require precision tapered holes with positional tolerances as tight as a couple of microns.  With the number of test points increasing and diameters of the holes decreasing, Potomac is uniquely qualified to handle the most challenging requirements. Applicable materials include, Kapton, Mylar, Silicon Nitride, alumina, Vespel, silicon, Cirlex, and others.

Leak Test Holes: Potomac is able to laser drill micro-holes into glass and polymer vials/ampules for the purpose of leak test hole system validation. A range of hole sizes can be created in order to replicate defects in vials for use when calibrating leak detection devices. Depending upon the wall thickness of the vial/ampule, hole sizes can be as small as 1µm. In addition to vials, foil and blister packs can also be laser drilledA Certificate of Conformance is included with the shipment.

Other Applications include: Calibrated Flow Holes, Filters, Fuel Cells, Inhalers, Nebulizers, Ink Jet Nozzles, Fuel Injection Components, Pinholes for Photographic Applications, Optical Apertures and many more.

Critical items to consider when planning a hole drilling project, include the diameter of the hole, the thickness of the material, the shape of the hole, edge quality of hole, desired taper of hole, and center-to-center pitch of the holes.

Potomac is continually developing and adding new hole drilling processes to our facility.  Our broad-range of technologies includes the capability to drill angled and shaped holes on multi-axis drilling systems.  In addition, we can drill material thicknesses from very thin films to several mm’s on high speed set-ups that drill 1,000’s of holes quickly and repeatably.

Depending on the material and specifications,  Potomac will choose the appropriate tool to drill the holes.   For example, if the substrate is a transparent polymer, UV laser sources are often the best choice.  However, if the material is a metal or ceramic, IR lasers are used.  Potomac also has micro-cnc systems for applications that require larger features and no taper.