Principles and Fundamentals of Fiber Laser Cleaning
Cleaning with lasers is an important process for many industries around the world, and while it has similarities to other laser processes, it has some unique attributes which set it apart. We have covered these below.
Before examining the specifics in more detail, these are the basic principles and fundamentals of cleaning with fiber lasers:
- It is a process completed using a fiber laser, as opposed to a crystal or gas laser
- It is a newer cleaning process, replacing more traditional methods such as media blasting, dry-ice blasting or cleaning using chemical solvents
- It is a non-contact, non-abrasive process
- It is an efficient, safe, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective process
- It allows users a great deal of control over power output, wavelength and ablation depth
How does laser cleaning work?
There are two elements to examine; how laser-based cleaning works, and how a fiber laser itself works.
Cleaning operates by using a laser beam to pulse the surface layer of a material, ablating and vapourising it to the desired depth to leave a clean, pure surface beneath. This is ideal for removing surface level contaminants such as paint or rust. The important fundamentals to note here are that this is a non-contact process, so the laser beam won’t have any adverse abrasive side effects on the material like more traditional laser processes that have come before.
The cleaning process helps to leave a high-quality finish
Fiber lasers use an optical fiber as its laser medium for completion. Generally, you will find that this medium is a normal optical fiber, manufactured from silica glass, which has been dipped in the rare-earth element of Erbium. This is because Erbium has good energy levels while being a cost-effective solution. It is, therefore, a cheap, yet high quality, method.
Also found in this type of laser will be Bragg Gratings, which are reflective sections of glass. Think of it as a type of mirror system, these are used in order to make a laser cavity. You’ll also find a pump source which helps to excite the electrons, needed in order to create the laser beam. This laser beam will then, in turn, be used for the cleaning process.
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