24 Industrial Laser Solutions SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 www.industrial-lasers.com
Laser cleaning and
approach the mainstream
FIGURE 1. An
example of rust
removal from a steel
Until recently, laser cleaning has been limited in application, yet videos of handheld laser cleaning systems generate millions of hits on the Internet. Therefore, laser cleaning is advancing and companies
such as Blueacre Technology (SIDEBAR) are now implementing similar principles used in medical device and semiconductor processing, where the laser process is supplemented with ancillary processes to increase process yield
and reduce overall production costs.
At its most basic, laser cleaning is a process
in which optical radiation is directed to a part
to remove unwanted material from the surface.
The surface contamination tends to be rust on
steel, oxide layers on aluminum prior to welding, and coatings such as paint.
As shown in FIGURE 1, laser cleaning is very
efficient at surface layer removal. Lasers
used for cleaning have high power and high
beam quality (M2) values, resulting in larger
spot diameters and a deep depth of focus.
Therefore, lasers can clean parts with mul-
tiple surfaces, each of which may be at a
Depending on the part
to be cleaned and the
material to be removed,
laser cleaning systems
can range in power from 20 up to 1000W.
Laser cleaning systems with powers of
4k W are in development and will be on
the market soon. Low-power laser clean-
ers tend to be portable and suitable for
handheld usage, whereas the higher-power laser cleaners are
integrated into 24/7 production environments with a high degree
of automation (FIGURE 2).
Remanufacturing is the process of returning a product
to at least its original performance with a warranty that
is equivalent to or better than that of the newly manufactured product. A recent study published by the EU shows
a market of €30 billion in Europe, employing 130,000
people across many sectors, including aerospace, rail,
MACHINE VISION ENABLES REAL-TIME
Low-power (a) and