One of the biggest benefits of the laser cleaning process that you will often hear being discussed is the fact that it is a non-contact, non-abrasive process. Just what does this mean? And why is this so important? We explored this in great detail below.
What was wrong with past cleaning methods?
There are three main other types of cleaning process; dry-ice blasting, media blasting and cleaning using chemical solvents. While the latter caused no substrate wear, the first two, which involves “blasting” were abrasive processes.
“Abrasion” is defined as an area that has been damaged by the scraping or wearing away of the material’s surface. While these other cleaning methods were effective in that the desired result could be achieved, the blasting process often left unpredictable abrasive damage to the material that was being operated on.
Blasting process is very much like using a pressure wash. It using a blasting gun to simply spray blasting media to the surface area until achieving the surface result. You can’t control over what area is affected, or how much damage is caused.
This also added another problem; not all surfaces and materials can be worked with. Given the unpredictable and abrasive nature of these processes, delicate materials were often avoided. So, while the processes worked, they clearly weren’t reliable or efficient.
So how does fiber laser cleaning work?
Cleaning with lasers has dramatically changed cleaning methods and has resulted in a process which is reliable, safe, efficient, and high-quality. Any process using a fiber laser is a non-contact process, which also means that it is non-abrasive too.
Laser cleaning works by having the fiber laser beam directed at the surface layer of a material. The substrates that you are looking to clean absorb the light and heat of the beam, and once the desired temperature is reached, the substrates are irradiated. This vaporisation means that very little waste is left behind too.
Rather than simply blasting an area with the beam, you can use very short, very precise and very controlled fiber laser beams to reach the depth that you wish to a high level of accuracy. The material that is below, say metal, won’t be negatively affected by the process either.
This means that only the contaminants, such as rust, that sit on the surface layer of your material will be negatively affected, and no abrasive damage will be caused to the material sitting below. This has revolutionised the cleaning process, and so it is hardly surprising that laser-based cleaning is quickly becoming the most popular method for many industries around the world.