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Fiber laser cleaning is the process by which a surface is cleaned by having any impurities, oxides, dust, oil or other materials removed. This is done by using a fiber laser with high repetition rates and high peak powers, but in short pulses, so as to not damage the substrate that is being worked with.
Fiber laser cleaning can be used to remove paint or coatings from a surface
The aim is simply to remove any contaminated layers and clean the surface underneath quickly and with minimal heat output. This is done using laser irradiation, and so makes it a similar process to laser ablation. There are different ways of laser cleaning a surface, and we explore this further below, as well as the various applications for fiber laser cleaning.
There are two very different ways of conducting fiber laser cleaning, and the process that you choose will depend on the results that you wish to achieve.
The first process involves coating removal and is simply the removal of a layer on the surface of the object you are working with (e.g. rust). The layer that you are removing will be different to that of the object underneath, both physically and chemically, meaning that the fiber laser will have no thermal, chemical or mechanical effect on the substrate itself. Examples include paint or rubbing coatings.
The second process is laser surface decontamination, which involves the removal of layers that are much more deeply embedded within the object that you are working with. Therefore, you will need to remove layers of the substrate itself. An example would be removing radioactive concrete layers.
Fiber laser cleaning involves a non-contact and non-abrasive approach with no chemicals or solvents being used. It can also be automated using robots and conducted on a large or small scale. These cost-effective and environmentally-friendly benefits make fiber laser cleaning extremely useful as it maximises efficiency and safety while reducing waste.
Due to the wide number of benefits listed above that fiber laser cleaning has, it can be used and applied to many different industries for use with materials such as metal, ceramics, plastics, concrete, glass and more. We explore some of the application areas for fiber laser cleaning next:
Fiber laser cleaning can be used to remove the paint or the coating from a surface, either partially, fully, or on a selective area, whether the surface has been finished with an organic, chemically oxidised or anodised surface. This could be used for things such as de-coating solar panels, or removing paint in the aerospace or automobile industries, all while maintaining the integrity of the primer substance.
Fiber laser cleaning can be used to prepare surfaces for adhesive bonding or coating, such as for welding or brazing. This application will clean the surface of any lubricants, contaminants, grease, traffic film, oils, or some other substance, meaning the objects are ready to be worked with. This is useful for industries such as automotive, ship-building or the manufacturing of precision tools.
Fiber laser cleaning can also be used to ablate metal and plastic surfaces to leave a label or mark beneath. This is a highly efficient approach as a surface can be cleaned and labelled in one process, rather than the need for a multi-step approach that other conventional methods entail. This is useful for something like the creation of barcodes on an object.
Fiber lasers are used in the art world for the precision cleaning of precious artworks, the non-contact process being particularly beneficial. Similarly, the process is also ideal for cleaning statues and monuments, which get dirty over time, particularly when situated outdoors.
Fiber laser cleaning can also be used for mould cleaning and de-oiling. This is useful for industries such as food manufacturing where the fiber laser can be used to clean baking trays.
Fiber laser cleaning can be used to clean baking trays
This is just some of the many uses for fiber laser cleaning. Interested to hear more about what our range of fiber lasers could do you for? Get in touch or contact us on +44(0)1489 779 696, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will be on hand to help.
Image Credit: Mental Floss Magazine
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