Structuring and ablation are closely related processes. Short laser pulses of extremely high power produce an energy density so high that the material practically vaporizes without passing through a liquid phase (it sublimates). Very little molten material results from this process. Each laser pulse produces a small depression that is typically 10, 20, or more micrometers in diameter and only a few micrometers deep.
Laser ablation is usually used in the manufacture of tools and molds as well as in electronics and semiconductor technology. In injection molding, for example, lasers produce highly detailed, three -dimensional molds into which resin is injected for creating plastic parts. The laser, however, can also be used to trim resistors or mark parts by selectively removing thin layers of material.
At percussion drilling multiple laser pulses "peck" at the workpiece, producing the hole little by little. Producing a pilot hole, that is then enlarged in a series of circular motions is called trepanning. Helical drilling means that many laser pulses work their way into the workpiece in a downward spiral.