Since the first successful demonstration of the laser in 1960 the laser’s potential for materials processing has been clearly recognised and actively pursued. The first laser materials processing application in 1965 was the use of a ruby laser to drill holes through diamonds for wire dies. Other materials processing applications such as micro-welding and jet-assisted cutting followed a short time later. In these initial applications the laser’s unique processing capabilities were amply demonstrated. The subsequent inroads made into these aspects have been so tremendous that lasers have evolved into a ubiquitous manufacturing tool. Such a wide applications base in manufacturing would not have been possible without first, the continuous development of new, cheaper and application-specific lasers and second, the advancement in laser materials processing technologies. It is being increasingly realised by many that there is much to be said for the more extensive deployment of lasers to perform a wider variety of tasks. Within the fields of science, engineering and medicine lasers have, and still are, replacing existing equipment and tools as well as, perhaps more importantly, being used to carry out unique functions that were hitherto not possible. Moreover, this evolutionary cycle has advanced a stage further with technologically mature lasers now being superseded by more contemporary lasers. A renowned member of the laser community once remarked of the laser that it was a solution looking for a problem. This book shows that this assertion has been somewhat vindicated in recent times by presenting the findings of the latest inter-disciplinary research work conducted by experts in laser materials processing from all across the globe. Described in this book are applications as diverse in their nature as micro- and nano-scale manufacturing to the treatment of building materials. In addition, chapters describing mathematical models of various laser materials processing applications reveal how well understood the field is. It is hoped that this book will go some way to promote the further development of interdisciplinary theories and methods and increase knowledge in the area of laser-material interaction
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