From manufacturing plants and medical labs to the automotive, aviation, and steel fabrication industries, the laser is becoming the most preferred method for surface cleaning of materials.
Although the use of lasers in laser cutting machine, drilling, and laser welding machine applications is well known, its current adaptation in industrial cleaning applications is relatively new and unexplored.
This current application of lasers came as a result of the need for a nonhazardous, nonabrasive cleaning method that could be used as a substitute in applications where chemical, manual, and abrasive blasting methods were formerly used.
Benefits of using lasers in cleaning applications
Key problems presented by conventional cleaning methods include negative environmental impact and wear on the substrate. Abrasive blasting systems created significant amounts of waste and damaged delicate surfaces, while the use of chemical solvents resulted in potentially hazardous vapors and liquid waste products.
This led to the adaptation of laser technology in surface cleaning applications. Due to its many benefits, laser cleaning machine is now the most effective method of removing unwanted matter from the surface of materials.
Currently, there is a wide array of pulsed laser cleaning and de-coating systems used in various applications ranging from removing vulcanizing residue from tire molds and engraving surfaces by ablation to stripping insulation from conductors and de-coating paint from delicate surfaces.
Some of the many benefits of using lasers in surface cleaning applications include:
Automated and nonrandom cleaning method
Reduced amount of waste products
No need for chemicals or blasting media
Nonabrasive and noncontact cleaning process
Laser cleaning applications
Surface profiling and rust removal in steel fabrication. Portable laser cleaning machine is also an effective and efficient method for removing rust and scale from metallic materials. Rust and scale are contaminants that form on metal surfaces as a result of natural or artificial processes. When metals are exposed to moisture, they react with water to form ferrous oxides, resulting in rust. This rust degrades the quality of the metal, making it unsuitable for use in various applications.
On the other hand, scales form on metal surfaces as a result of heat treatment processes and its oxide discolors the metal surface, preventing any subsequent finishing operations.
Removing these unwanted surface deposits requires the execution of descaling processes to provide smooth surfaces for prefinishing and finishing processes such as electroplating.
Conventional rust removal and descaling operations involve the use of physical methods such as blasting, polishing, scraping devices, extra blows, and wire brushes. Chemical methods such as alkali descaling and acid descaling (pickling) can also be used for scale removal. However, these methods are very abrasive and result in environmental pollution and damage to the substrate metal.
To avoid these disadvantages, laser cleaning has become the preferred method for rust removal and descaling operations. The rust/scale is removed by directing a laser beam with high peak power and repetition rates on the rusted layer.
The industrial laser cleaning machine must be fired in short pulses to avoid damage to the substrate being worked on. The rust rapidly absorbs the energy of the laser beam, resulting in increased temperature levels. Once the temperature is sufficiently high, the rust melts and eventually vaporizes.
Using pulsed fiber lasers is the preferred option since it provides greater control over power, wavelength, and pulse duration, allowing the rust/ scale to vaporize without any damage to the underlying material.
The laser cleaning process can also be applied to surface profiling. Before protective coatings can be applied to fabricated steel parts for preservation and protection from corrosive action, their surfaces must be clean and free from all contaminants.
Surface profiling/preparationentails the removal of all contaminants from the surface of steel parts in preparation for protective coating applications. These contaminants include oil, grease, scale, hydrates and oxide layers, shop-primer, etc. For any subsequent processes, the bars, wires, and profiles must also be free from these contaminants.
Since fiber laser cleaning uses a nonabrasive, noncontact approach without the involvement of solvents, chemicals, or abrasive media, it is ideal for surface profiling and rust/scale removal. The cleaning process can be conducted on a small or large scale and can be automated. Precision laser cleaning machine is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to remove rust and prepare the surfaces of rolled steel products and fabricated steel parts for protective coating.
Laser weld preparation is one of the many applications of laser cleaning and handheld laser welding machine and helps to remove ferrous and nonferrous metals, lubricants, and other contaminants from metal and aluminum surfaces in preparation for high-quality welds. It also ensures smooth and pore-free brazed seams.
Partial decoating. Laser cleaning is particularly effective in applications that require the partial removal of paint or coatings from finished surfaces. It can be used on virtually all surface types, whether chemically anodized, oxidized, or organic. Laser cleaning can be used to de-coat solar panels and remove paint in the automotive and aerospace industries while maintaining the integrity of the primer substance.