Potomac Photonics and University of Michigan Partner on Extreme Micro Marking Application for Nuclear Research

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The precision micro marking project will allow researchers to identify metal alloy samples and trace conditions and experiments to which each was subjected.

Precision Laser Marking for University of Michigan Research

Precision Laser Marking for University of Michigan Research

Micro marking technology is becoming more prevalent in a wide array of applications including serialization of micro devices, covert identification and counterfeit detection.

Potomac Photonics is pleased to report that it recently completed a precision micro marking project for the University of Michigan that helps support research on how extreme conditions in nuclear power reactors affect different types of metal alloys. This study will focus on how the higher levels of radiation and the extreme temperatures that are commonly encountered in many new reactor types will affect the shape, hardness, ductility and susceptibility to cracking of the materials.

In order to keep track of the 100 samples of each of eight different types of alloys which will be placed in a high flux nuclear reactor, each was assigned a unique 3 digit code. This code had a maximum height of 250 microns and was to be laser marked on parts that were only 3 mm in diameter and 250 microns thick. These markings will allow researchers to identify each sample and effectively trace what conditions and experiments it was exposed to.

According to Tyler Moss from the University of Michigan Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department, "Post exposure, the samples will be tested using several different experimental techniques. Their mechanical properties will be measured by shear punch and hardness indentation. So, the surfaces of the samples need to be free of any defects. The structure and chemistry of the material will be measured by electron microscopy and atom probe tomography."

Potomac Engineer, John Ford, added that the primary challenge was to come up with a way to accurately handle and position such small parts. A custom fixture was essential to the success of the project.

With only a two-week window to complete the project, Potomac Photonics was able to design and build the special fixture capable of holding the miniature samples so that they could be marked quickly and in very precise locations. In addition, the process was capable of marking eight different types of material, and was developed such that each of the markings could be read at a minimal magnification level of 15X.

Micro Marking technology is becoming more prevalent in a wide array of applications including serialization of micro devices, covert identification and counterfeit detection. In determining the appropriate laser micro marking solution the critical factors to consider are part size, material and mark size requirements. Potomac has a broad range of micro marking technology with the capability to mark almost any material with features as small as 1 micron.

About Potomac Photonics

For over 30 years, Potomac Photonics has been a leader in microfabrication and small hole drilling. Potomac’s contract services span prototyping to production, helping clients develop miniature products and bring them to market. Using cutting-edge manufacturing technology, Potomac has been recognized by both commercial and government agencies for innovation in areas such as medical device, electronics, aerospace, and automotive manufacturing. Potomac’s high-tech facility, located in Lanham, MD, is ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2003 certified. Visit the website at http://www.potomac-laser.com

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Mike Adelstein
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