Why Laser Cleaning?
Specific problems to overcome
Laser cleaning is THE most efficient and non-destructive method when considering three types of cleaning processes are:
• Cleaning with chemical solvents – A high amount of waste is created that needs to be disposed of safely. This waste consists of hazardous solvents that have been mixed with residue, and the vapours released can be dangerous to humans, hence the operator requires protection
• Cleaning using media blasting – Highly abrasive to substrates, and so can’t be used on delicate or intricate surfaces, such as artwork. It also produces a high level of waste in the form of blasting media such as sand or plastic, that also needs to be disposed of
• Cleaning using dry-ice blasting – Not efficient at cleaning delicate surfaces, and a noisy process. Also, potentially hazardous to
Furthermore, both dry-ice blasting and chemical cleaning have low levels of automation, making them a process for which the user has to get heavily involved. Media blasting is slightly different, having a medium to high level of automation.
What are the benefits of laser cleaning?
So, how do these differences benefit the user? There are quite a few advantages of cleaning with lasers, and we have laid these out below.
Firstly, there is no problem when it comes to substrate wear, as no mechanical, chemical or thermal strain is placed on the substrate, and only organic substrates will be affected by the process.
Secondly, there is very little waste produced, and the waste that is left over is non-harmful substances such as dust.
Next, it is a highly automated process, meaning it requires little input from an operator. This obviously has efficiency and cost benefits, but also adds another element of safety by removing the worker from the operation as much as possible. This also means that operations can be completed in what would otherwise be dangerous or hazardous environments.
As mentioned above, lasers and fiber lasers, in particular, offer great levels of control to their users when it comes to output power, wavelengths, and pulse parameters. Operations can be conducted with a high degree of accuracy, and all of this together allows users to clean any surfaces with the exact specifications that they require.
The Environmental Benefits
of Laser Cleaning, while not as widely used as some other laser processes, is still an important and crucial function in its own right, helping users to create clean and pure surfaces on their materials.
Aside from these benefits, one less well-known fact is that this process, if completed using a fiber laser, can have great environmental benefits too. Why is this? We explored this in more detail below. A fiber laser however also offers further environmental benefits over other types of laser based cleaning processes.
Firstly, it has a much smaller power consumption rate. A fiber laser is roughly twenty times more efficient than its crystal or gas laser counterparts.
Secondly, they enjoy much longer diode lives. For crystal or gas lasers, the average diode life is usually between 10,000 and 20,000 hours. Some systems, on the other hand, have a much, much longer service life, sitting in at around 50,000 to 100,000 hours.Finally, both of the other two processes use consumable gases in their operation. Fiber lasers, however, don’t.