Fiber Laser Applications: #1 Laser Cleaning

Fiber Lasers are incredibly versatile and are capable of many different industrial manufacturing applications from cutting and welding, to additive manufacturing. In this range of articles we focus on a specific application each month, providing useful insight into a variety of aspects related to the application e.g. how it works, how it can be used.  This month we focus on the application of Cleaning with a Fiber Laser.

Laser Cleaning is an important process for many industries around the world, and while it has similarities to other laser processes, it has some unique principles and fundamentals which set it apart. This article explores how Fiber Laser cleaning works, the benefits it has for industries around the world and examples of applications.

To see all our Laser Cleaning applications content, visit our Applications area by clicking here!

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Cleaning sample

Fiber Laser Cleaning: An Introduction

Laser cleaning is one of the more modern versions of the cleaning process and has rapidly replaced more traditional methods such as dry-ice blasting or media blasting due to the numerous benefits that it provides.

It offers these benefits as it works in a significantly different way to the processes that have preceded it. Furthermore, using a fiber laser as the medium works in a very different way to other types of laser cleaning methods. We have explored this in more detail below and explained why fiber laser cleaning is the most efficient, safe and cost-effective cleaning solution on the market.

The aim of the process is simple; to clean the surface of a material (e.g. metal) that it is working with.

This is done for a number of reasons, such as to remove paint, mould, or to prepare surfaces for treatment. Surfaces can easily gather or contain contaminants such as carbon, rust, and rubber;  laser cleaning offers an efficient and environmentally-friendly way of removing these…..read more.

How does it work?

There are two elements to examine with fiber laser cleaning; how laser cleaning works, and how a fiber laser itself works.

Laser 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. 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.

Rust has rendered this car useless

Rust has rendered this car useless

What are the advantages?

Laser cleaning is by no means the only type of cleaning process, and there have been many other types of cleaning methods that have come before. But laser cleaning was introduced to the market to solve some of the problems that these other processes presented and to offer a new set of advantages to their users. We’ve explored some of these advantages in greater detail below.

The biggest problem with methods such as dry-ice blasting, media blasting or cleaning using chemical solvents is that they are abrasive and potentially hazardous. Not only does this have environmental issues, but it also has safety issues too, as a significant amount of potentially harmful waste is often created from one of these more traditional cleaning methods.

So how is a Fiber Laser different?

Laser cleaning looked to solve the problems presented by other processes, and it has managed to do this to a large degree. Perhaps the biggest difference with using a laser to other processes is that it is a non-contact and non-abrasive process. Only the laser light will actually be touching and working with the surface of the material, and this heated energy essentially blasts off the material from the surface layer.

Traditional processes may involve using chemical solvents

Traditional processes may involve using abrasive chemical solvents

While the final result is similar to the other cleaning processes, the way in which the actual operation is completed is what makes laser cleaning different…..read more.

See Laser Cleaning in action!

Our redENERGY G4 Fiber Lasers have produced some stunning results in our applications laboratories with cleaning applications.

Visit our YouTube channel to see more of our latest videos on cleaning applications including cleaning 20mm thick Mild Steel, rust removal (see right) and many more!

 

Find out more

To see more details on which lasers are most suitable for each applications including specific laser parameters, check out our Applications Postcards on our website including;

For more information on Fiber Laser Cleaning take a look at our collection of Application Insights giving an in depth overview of the topic written by experts in the field, articles include;

….and many more!

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