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Open Eng.

2016; 6:9097

Research Article Open Access

Peter ugr*, Jana ugrov, and Martin Frnk

Laser surface texturing of tool steel: textured

surfaces quality evaluation
DOI 10.1515/eng-2016-0012
Received Nov 19, 2015; accepted Apr 22, 2016
1 Introduction
Abstract: In this experimental investigation the laser sur- Laser beam micromachining (LBM) process is based on
face texturing of tool steel of type 90MnCrV8 has been the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with a mate-
conducted. The 5-axis highly dynamic laser precision rial. The mechanism of material removal during this pro-
machining centre Lasertec 80 Shape equipped with the cess includes different stages: (a) melting, (b) vaporization
nano-second pulsed ytterbium fibre laser and CNC system (pyrolytic processes) and (c) chemical degradation (chem-
Siemens 840 D was used. The planar and spherical sur- ical bonds are broken which causes the degradation of
faces first prepared by turning have been textured. The machined material- photolytic process). When a high en-
regular array of spherical and ellipsoidal dimples with ergy density laser beam is focused on workpiece surface
a different dimensions and different surface density has the thermal energy is absorbed which heats and trans-
been created. Laser surface texturing has been realized un- forms the work volume into a molten, vaporized or chem-
der different combinations of process parameters: pulse ically changed state that can easily be removed by flow of
frequency, pulse energy and laser beam scanning speed. high pressure assist gas jet [1]. LBM is a thermal process;
The morphological characterization of ablated surfaces this means the effectiveness of this process depends on
has been performed using scanning electron microscopy thermal properties and the optical properties (to a certain
(SEM) technique. extent) rather than the mechanical properties of the ma-
The results show limited possibility of ns pulse fibre laser chined material. Therefore, materials that exhibit a high
application to generate different surface structures for tri- degree of brittleness or hardness, and have suitable ther-
bological modification of metallic materials. These struc- mal properties (low thermal diffusivity and conductivity)
tures were obtained by varying the processing conditions are particularly well suited for laser machining [24].
between surface ablation, to surface remelting. In all cases Laser beam machining of engineering materials has
the areas of molten material and re-cast layers were ob- become a viable alternative to conventional methods of
served on the bottom and walls of the dimples. Beside the machining of difficult-to-machine materials with proper-
influence of laser beam parameters on the machined sur- ties such as excellent strength, toughness, resistance to
face quality during laser machining of regular hemispher- fatigue, resistance to corrosion and biological compatibil-
ical and elipsoidal dimple texture on parabolic and hemi- ity [5]. This technology also gives very important tool for
spherical surfaces has been studied. development of rapidly growing micro-technology indus-
try [3, 6]. One of the most specific applications of laser
Keywords: Laser surface texturing; Fiber laser; SEM
beam machining is the use of a laser beam for surface tex-
turing [7, 8]. It is one of the existing methods of friction re-
duction based on the principle of covering the samples by
regular arrays of ablated dimples, with different size and
shape (typically spherical or cylindrical) [9, 10].
Several classes of tribological experiments were de-
veloped in order to investigate the benefits of laser sur-
*Corresponding Author: Peter ugr: Slovak University of
Technology, Faculty of Material Science and Technology, Insti-
face texturing in term of reduction of friction coefficients
tute of Production Technologies, Trnava, Slovakia; Email: pe- and reduction of wear rates, mainly on steel surfaces [11
ter.sugar@stuba.sk; Tel.:+421 917 367 301; J. Bottu 25, 917 24 Trnava, 15]. But there is a lack of information about the interac-
Slovakia tion between laser beam and material structure and the
Jana ugrov, Martin Frnk: Slovak University of Technology, laser beam, which plays a key role in the formation of dim-
Faculty of Material Science and Technology, Institute of Production
ples of required shapes and surface integrity [16]. Abla-
Technologies, Trnava, Slovakia

2016 P. ugr et al., published by De Gruyter Open.

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tion of surface is accompanied to local annealing, which Table 1: Chemical composition of tool steel (wt%) and its physical
could activate phase transitions in correspondence of the and mechanical properties.

laser-affected zone: laser beam interaction plays a key role

C Si Mn Pmax Smax Cr V
in heat propagation, which could result in the formation
of modified material layers. Laser heating causes several 0.88 0.17 2.02 0.030 0.030 0.35 0.11
phenomena, in particular on steel surfaces: variations in Tensile Thermal Linear Density
dislocations and residual stresses distributions, formation strength conductivity expansion
of different carbide types, size and shape modification of coeflcient
austenitic grains and hardening effects [17, 18]. 750 MPa 38.5 W/m.K 13,4.106 K1 7.85 g/cm3
While the impact of fibre lasers on the macro appli-
cations field is remarkable, such impact was not present
in micro applications field in the past, because the prin- by laser beam [24, 25]. Fig. 1 demonstrates the influence of
cipal requirement of micro field is the feasibility of gener- laser beam pulse duration on the shape and dimensional
ating high quality micro features, which is predominantly accuracy of the machined element.
determined by the pulse duration, and wavelength of the LBM can be applied to various types of materials to
laser. Today, pulsed fibre lasers are approaching even more be machined, while the machinability of these materi-
increased flexibility in terms of pulse shape and duration als does not depend on the mechanical properties, but
regulation in ns regime with increased peak powers. The on the physical-chemical properties of the materials. The
use of fibre lasers provides flexibility both in terms of tun- machinability is defined by an absorption capacity, re-
ability of the process parameters, but also the process na- flectance and thermal conductivity of material [26, 27]. It
ture itself [19, 20]. is possible to machine various types of metals [23, 28], ce-
Today, the laser beams operating in a pulse mode ramics [29], glass [30], semiconductor materials [31], poly-
are preferred for application in LBM. It discusses about mers [32], diamond [33], mineral and composite materi-
lasers with a pulse duration working on nanoseconds als [3437], as well as a biocompatible materials [38, 39]
(109 s) [21], picoseconds (1012 s) [22] or femtoseconds and biomaterials (hydroxyapatite, bones and tissues) [40].
(1015 s) [23]. Due to the very short pulses it is possible to
obtain an extremely high peak power and high energy de-
livered during a single pulse. An interesting phenomenon
occurs during very short pulse duration functionality of
2 Experimental setup
absorption on the wavelength is eliminated. By reducing of
The aim of this paper is to perform a qualitative analyze of
pulse duration a solidified material rims and a wide heat
the laser micromachining process outputs; to be more spe-
affected zones do not come into being in the areas affected
cific, the manufacturability, shape and dimensional char-
acteristics of various surface textures manufactured by fi-
bre Nd:YAG pulsed laser with average power of 100 W will
be analyzed. These surface textures with different shape
and dimensions were manufactured, with objective to en-
hance the functional characteristic of the surface, on vari-
ous planar and shaped metallic surfaces.
Individual samples were prepared by turning technol-
ogy from 90MnCrV8 tool steel type according to EN ISO
Fig. 1 depicts shape and dimensions of textured sur-
faces. Chemical composition of this tool steel with chosen
physical and mechanical properties is specified in Tab. 1.
In the preliminary experiment a simple planar sample sur-
face was covered by textures of defined patterns: (i) tex-
ture with surface density of 20%, periodical texture ele-
Figure 1: Shape comparison of machined elements using different ment consists of dimple-like depressions, with 200 m in
pulse duration; (a) machining by a nanosecond pulsed beam, (b)
a diameter and 80 m in a depth, situated at the corners
machining by a femtosecond pulsed laser beam [25].
of the rectangle with sides length of 0.8x0.4 mm, one de-

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92 | P. ugr et al.

Figure 2: Studied sample surfaces; (i) flat sample with planar surface, (ii) flat sample with parabolic surface, (iii) rotary sample with hemi-
spherical surface.

(a) (b)

Figure 3: Laser machine workspace; a laser machine tool kine-

matic structure (X, Y, Z translation motions, B, C rotation mo-
tions), b main parts of workspace (1 beam guidance with the
highly dynamic scanner acts as an optical axis system, 2 Z-level
measuring probe, 3 positioning and measuring CCD camera, 4

pression is placed into the centre of this element; (ii) tex-

ture with surface density of 30%, periodical surface ele-
ment comprises of dimple-like depressions, with the di-
ameter of 200 m and the depth of 80 m, situated at Figure 4: Base element shapes and dimensions.
the corners of square with a side length of 0.45 mm, one
depression is situated into the centre of this formation;
To manufacture the surface textures on the planar
(iii) texture with surface density of 30%, periodical sur-
area of sample I a five axis highly dynamic laser precision
face element consists of ellipsoidal depression with depth
machining centre Lasertec 80 Shape (Fig. 3) equipped with
of 50 m which are arranged on a concentric circles with
the pulsed ytterbium fibre laser and CNC system Siemens
regularly graded diameters. Studied textures are depicted
840 D was used. Tab. 2 contains a description of the laser
on Fig. 4. The aim of the preliminary experiment was to de-
beam parameters used to produce the surface textures, as
fine a set of laser beam parameters (pulse frequency, aver-
well as the basic characteristic of laser medium. These pa-
age power and laser beam scanning speed) which will be
rameters had been optimized in order to a depth of cut of
used in the production of surface textures on the shaped
1 m was achieved. Laser beam tracking distance param-
surfaces (II and III).

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Laser surface texturing | 93

Table 2: Technological parameters used in production of surface

textures on the sample I.

Laser medium Nd:YAG

Wavelength [nm] 1064
Maximal power Pavg [W] 100
Pulse duration t [ns] 120
Scanning Repetition
No. Average power P speed v rate PRF
[mms1 ] [kHz]
E1 22.8 19.35 1500 80
E2 25.0 13.25 2000 50
E3 21.2 7.0 1000 30

eter (the distance between the two parallel paths of the

laser beam on the workpiece surface) was set to 10 m. A
hatching strategy was chosen as the machining strategy (a
movement of focused laser beam is linear in one direction
with the specified tracking distance).
After the production of three types of surface texture
on the planar surface sample I in different technological
parameters according to Tab. 2, a qualitative analysis of
produced surface textures has been carried out in order to
specify a set of laser beam parameters, which will be used
in production of textures on the shaped surfaces (sample
II and III).
Fig. 5 depicts chosen surface textures produced at the
planar surfaces of sample I in various set of process param-
eters. Morphological analysis of produced surface texture
showed that laser beam parameters used in experiment
no. 1 (according to Tab. 2) are optimal for producing of sur-
face textures, therefore these parameters will be used in
texturing of parabolic surface (sample II) and hemispher-
ical surface (sample III) too.
Images on Fig. 5 were achieved by measuring CCD
camera situated inside laser machine (50x magnified). In
the next step of research above defined surface textures
Figure 5: Chosen details of the surface textures produced on the
were applied on shaped surfaces of sample II and sample planar area of sample I in preliminary experiments.
III with laser beam parameters corresponding to E1 test
(see Tab. 2). The only differences against the texturing of
planar surface in preliminary experiment are that in tex- tured field or a patch field. This parameter can be defined
turing of shaped surfaces a 5-axis texturing has to be ap- as a zone which can be textured in one workpiece position.
plied, as well as the preparation of NC code is more compli- These zones on workpiece surface were automatically gen-
cated, so it was necessary to pay a special attention to pro- erated by software according to the Voronoiovs random ir-
cess programming and simulation as well. The laser ma- regular zones. During a laser machining process, the work-
chine positioned the sample to be machined such that the piece was positioned according to the NC code and tex-
laser beam was always directed towards the direction of tured in individual zones always in one layer (depth of cut
textured shapes normal (the directions of normals have to of 1 m) with a subsequent transient to the another layer.
be always set outside of the material). An important pa- Nine samples were manufactured in total (combinations
rameter of laser beam paths programming is a zone of tex-

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94 | P. ugr et al.

of three types of surface shape with three types of surface


3 Results and discussion

After production of defined surface textures on the
parabolic and hemispherical surface of the studied sam-
ples, a morphological analysis of ablated surfaces has
been carried out. This analysis has been performed us-
ing scanning electron microscopy (SEM) technique, using
a JEOL JSM 7600F (resolution of 1.5 nm (1 kV) in gentle
beam mode and 1.0 nm in 15 kV; magnification from 25 to
1 000 000 times) electron microscope to be specific.
The requested functionality of textured surfaces de-
pends also on the quality of the texture characteristics.
Key parameters of laser textured surfaces, which can have
a positive contribution to a modification of tribological
properties of mating surfaces (reduction of friction for ex-
ample), are:
dimensions of the texture depressions,
shape of the texture depressions,
surface morphology,
texture surface density.
These above mentioned qualitative characteristics Figure 6: Planar surface of sample I covered by texture II.
were significantly affected by the laser machining process,
especially by following specific effects which were caused
by the pulse duration of the laser beam: turing by nanosecond pulsed laser beam [7, 9]. Texture
surface density is affected by presence of recast layers
formation of re-cast layer (RCL),
around the edges of single depressions. During LBM pro-
molten material (MM) situated on the walls and on
cess an excessive thermal affecting of workpiece surface
the bottoms of the depressions.
had not been observed surface material melting on the
Fig. 6 represents surface texture II produced at the areas amid the single texture depressions did not occur,
planar surface of sample I. Texture consists of dimple- depressions are not pooled into one shapeless formation.
like depressions with diameter of 200 m and depth of Fig. 7 represents planar surface of sample I covered
80 m in an ideal case. However, dimensional and shape by texture III. Similar phenomenons, which were observed
differences in really produced depressions has been ob- in previously mentioned experiment, have been observed
served. Diameter of texture depression element is equal in this experiment as well. Surface texture consists of el-
to 207.5 m (percentage increase of 3.75%). Axial distance lipsoidal depressions with dimensions in major axis of
between single depressions is achieved; the value is circa 300 m and 100 m in secondary axis in the ideal case.
452 m. Shape of produced depressions is approximately However, produced dimensions are slightly different from
achieved. However, slightly shape differences caused by the ideal ones: dimension in major axis is equal to 339 m
molten material have been observed. Surface morphol- and in secondary axis is equal to 114.5 m (percentage in-
ogy has been affected by a presence of solidified melt rim crease of 13% and 14.5% respectively). A quite significant
(recast layer) around the edge of depression and by the shape differences has been observed on the ablated sur-
presence of molten material on the walls and the bot- faces, especially at the ends of the major axis. Surface mor-
tom of the depression. Presence of solidified melt rim and phology is affected by the presence of recast layer around
molten material is a typical component of texture (dim- the edges of depressions and by the presence of molten
ples) recorded also other reserchers who studied laser tex- material on the walls and on the bottom of the depres-

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Laser surface texturing | 95

Figure 8: Hemispherical surface of sample III covered by texture I.

Figure 7: Planar surface if sample I covered by texture III.

face density increased from the 20% to almost 30.5%. It

sion. Surface texture density is slightly affected by origi- can be concluded that above defined surface texture was
nated recast layer. Slightly pooling of texture depression not manufactured in the desired dimensional and shape
has been recorded in a certain places of ablated surface accuracy.
(as it is shown on Fig. 7).
An interesting result is depicted on the Fig. 8. This
figure represents the hemispherical surface of sample III 4 Conclusion
covered by texture I. Texture consists of dimple-like de-
pressions with diameter of 200 m and depth of 80 m Surface texturing is a widely used method in micro-cutting
in an ideal case. In this experiment, surface depressions or micro-drilling of difficult machined materials; to im-
with an insufficient depth have been manufactured. Diam- prove the load capacity, the wear resistance, and the fric-
eters of depressions vary from 185 m to 250 m. These di- tion coefficient of tribological mechanical components, in
mensional differences were caused by the influence of sev- a modification of optical properties etc. Laser surface tex-
eral zones in which the laser beam was focused. Depres- turing of various types of depressions with various dimen-
sion shape accuracy is affected by the workpiece position- sions, shapes and surface densities has been applied to
ing inaccuracies during the 5-axis laser machining. Four the three types of sample surfaces made from 90MnCrV8
zones of focused laser beam are observed on the ablated steel in order to a qualitative characteristics (dimensions,
surface; these zones would be overlapped, if the position- shape, surface morphology and texture surface density)
ing inaccuracies were eliminated. Geometrical and shape of ablated surfaces have been analyzed. Laser texturing
accuracy of produced textures is affected by the accuracy has been performed using a pulsed fiber Nd:YAG laser with
and tolerances in sample production by turning technol- pulse duration of 120 ns. Laser surface texturing in prelim-
ogy, too. Surface morphology is affected by the presence inary experiment has been realized under different combi-
of recast layers and by non-removed material from the sur- nations of process parameters: pulse frequency, pulse en-
face (caused by several zone of focused laser beam). Sur-

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96 | P. ugr et al.

ergy and laser beam scanning speed in order to an optimal ishing, chemical machining, electrochemical
laser beam parameters were defined. Consequently, planar polishing, laser cleaning or plasma etching),
and shape surfaces of test samples were covered by three change of process parameters: reduction of
types of surface texture using those optimal parameters. laser beam pulse duration can has a positive
Manufacturability of surface textures (qualitative analysis effect on the process accuracy. It is recom-
of textures) has been performed using scanning electron mended to machine the metallic materials us-
microscopy (SEM) technique. ing the picosecond pulsed laser beam. By re-
On the basis of the results obtained from this investi- duction of pulse duration, a significant heat
gation, the following conclusions can be drawn: affection of the base material does not occur,
therefore the recast layers are not formed too.
1. The study confirmed limited possibility of ns pulse
Base material is immediately vaporized,
fibre laser application to generate different surface
prevention of plasma creating: process modi-
structures for tribological modification of metallic
fication using an assistance gas transported to
materials. Entire dimensional and shape accuracy
the place of cut by a properly designed nozzle.
and quality of produced depressions is significantly
affected by presence of recast layers and molten ma-
Acknowledgement: This research was supported by an
terial formation on the walls and on the bottoms
international research project under the MANUNET 2014
of these depressions. Recast layers are generated
call, entitled: Innovative methods of sheet metal forming
around the edge of depressions and affect the sur-
tools surfaces improvement - R&D (2014/11283); and VEGA
face of workpiece nearby these depressions, too. Re-
project called: Laser surface texturing technology research
cast layers origin and formation of molten material
for an optimizing of tribological conditions in the sheet
in the machined area is caused by a plasma interac-
metal forming processes (0669/15).
tion with molten material. Ablation process is also
affected by the laser beam absorption and its dis-
persion by the machining process products fumes,
plasma, melted material drops etc. References
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