Method for laser machining explosives and related articles. A laser beam is directed at a surface portion of a mass of high explosive to melt and/or vaporize the surface portion while directing a flow of gas at the melted and/or vaporized surface portion. The gas flow sends the melted and/or vaporized explosive away from the charge of explosive that remains. The method also involves splitting the casing of a munition having an encased explosive. The method includes rotating a munition while directing a laser beam to a surface portion of the casing of an article of ordnance. While the beam melts and/or vaporizes the surface portion, a flow of gas directed at the melted and/or vaporized surface portion sends it away from the remaining portion of ordnance. After cutting through the casing, the beam then melts and/or vaporizes portions of the encased explosive and the gas stream sends the melted/vaporized explosive away from the ordnance. The beam is continued until it splits the article, after which the encased explosive, now accessible, can be removed safely for recycle or disposal.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.