Laser chemical machining (LCM) is a non-conventional processing method that enables a smooth and precise micro structuring of metallic surfaces. However, a high-quality removal is limited to a laser power window of some 100 mW. This is due to the high sensibility to removal disturbances, such as the deposition of metallic salts and oxides. In this work, the dynamic process behavior around the transition from a disturbance-free to a disturbed removal is investigated for the laser chemical machining of titanium (3.7024) and stainless steel (AISI 304) in different phosphoric acid solutions. Therefore, the removal cavities are recorded using confocal scanning microscopy and characterized regarding width, depth and quality in dependence of the laser power, feed velocity and electrolyte concentration. While the removal characteristics within the disturbance-free regime are found to be material-independent, the disturbed regime is strongly dependent on the tendency of the material to gas bubble adherence. Additional CCD records of the interaction zone reveal that the transition to the disturbed regime is accompanied by significant light reflections and thereby indicate the influence of adhering gas bubbles on disturbing the removal process. Moreover, typical removal disturbances are presented and discussed with regard to the responsible mechanisms for their occurrence.
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