If you want to clean a mold two things are crucial: what type is your contaminant( organic, inorganic,oxides) and what is the base material? Normally you don't want to damage the surface, nor change the material properties. Laser cleaning is in fact a balancing act between evaporating the contaminant and not changing the base material of your mold. A lot of Chinese suppliers don't know the difference and will offer you cutting or marking lasers. These so-called CW (continuous wave) lasers are mass-produced Chinese products with no aim of solving your mould problem. A pulsed laser system is needed to have full thermal surface control without damage. You don't need 2000 watts to clean a mould, 100 watts can be enough with the right system.It become more difficult if you have a special polished or chrome-coated surface. P- lasers build special systems with the right laser source and optical components to preserve your mould. Trust our 35-year experience.
CO2 gas-tube lasers are well known for cutting machines in relation to steel and glass material. There exist also pulsed Co2 laser which are used for surface cleaning. High-speed polygon in combination with Co2 laser are used to strip military aircraft in the US.
But as an industrial cleaning tool it is a no go. Due to the dimensions and the gas medium as a laser beam generator, it is to bulky and complex. This 10x higher wave length number has some advantages in cleaning on the absorption side. This wavelength is absorbed by most organic contaminants at a higher level than the infra-red 1064 nm laser. This means every Watt unit of laser energy reaching the surface is transferring its light energy at a higher level than one unit of our 1064 nm type infra-red laser. Further, the <Co2 10.000 nm wavelength is not well absorbed by aluminium. So yes in well specific cases in has some advantages, but mainly, it is not used in industrial cleaning applications. Typical due to the high-energy laser beam this kind of light energy is guided over mirrors instead of a flexible fibre. This is the reason in every Co2-based application, the bulky laser source has to be in a very short distance from the surface.
The Infrared laser light around 1064 nm or 1 micrometre wave length lasers are conceived in the same material: yttrium-aluminium garnett (YAG) doped with a Neodium element. in the case of a fibre laser, the laser light is generated in the same material as the cristal rod solid-state laser. But then stops the comparison between fibre lasers and solid-state YAG lasers.
The classical YAG laser uses a solid lase cavity to generate the laser light bouncing between two mirrors. Due to the extreme positioning accuracy of the mirrors and the water cooling around the crystal, we get a complex, unstable laser source. Decades of development made this laser the preferred university study object. Industrial applications demand reliable laser sources without needing scientists around to keep the machine running.
With all respect to the enormous developments done in this field, it is not the most preferred laser source in the industrial world. Industrial applications are always demanding continuous improvement quality: cutting/welding thicker steel controlling the surface heat impact. This requires a better laser light quality. In short, the laser quality of your generated light beam is equal to the focability to the most minor laser spot on the surface. This is a problematic point for YAG lasers, seeing the laser cavity restrictions. Instead, the fibre laser can achieve a far higher light quality and stable quality in long production runs. Integrating YAG lasers demands extra controlling sensors to ensure a well-known calibrated laser beam before you start welding. This adds extra costs and process uncertainty in already complex welding processes. I would say a cleaning process is a bit less critical than most welding applications but it is clear the pulsed fibre laser is also, in this field the preferred tool.
The most significant advantage is they have no maintenance. The light is generated directly in one fibre and connected to the output fibre. You have no moving elements inside. This system is not sensitive to vibrations or temperature variations. Only a cooling is added to the system and will demand some maintenance.
I the case of the traditional YAG laser, you have maintenance every year to keep the laser on a stable power output level. This demands intervention of specialized laser technicians.
The nature of the traditional laser-build cavity causes this problem. In short, a laser beam is generated in a cristal rod surrounded by a critical cooling system. The stability of laser output depends on the cooling efficiency. Water cooling systems are never entirely stable and by nature and will influence the laser output. The crystal is fixed on a super stable platform, but every nanometer of material deformation influences the laser performance again. if you get the beam out of the laser cavity, you must direct it into a 200 µ-meter fibre. This is nearly a NASA moon landing operation. Every vibration and thermal material deviation will result in less power output. In welding and cleaning processes, a +/-3% stable output is crucial for your process. This is the main reason why in all automotive high-quality lasers processes, fibre lasers are used. Because of their stability, low maintenance and low energy use they are the preferred tools. A further significant difference between a fibre laser and a traditional YAG laser is the puls duration problem. A fibre laser will generate the same puls duration for the complete frequency range. The YAG laser will generate its own crystal depending-material- puls duration and will have a puls-duration variation in function of the frequency you demand. This is an extreme limitation regarding process flexibility. This means you cannot change the frequency without changing the plus duration, which is directly affecting the surface result.
Mainly the frequency of the pulses together with the spotsize will give the maximum cleaning speed. This, with the puls-overlap plus energy, is the main tuning point of your process. But if the plus duration changes along the frequency, you get different heat effects on your substrate. Your process setting possibilities are limited with the YAG laser . A YAG laser finds it origin as a university development but needs a long way to be industrial reliable.
We find only YAG solid-state crystal manufacturers like Trump and Cleanlaser.
It will depend on the used type of laser. There are two primary types: the crystal rod laser and the solid-state laser. The latter generates light in an Nd YAG laser cavity. Around an Nd-doped yttrium silica glass crystal, specific LEDs are mounted. These LEDs stimulate the Nd dopant present in the crystal to emit radiation. However, the excess heat energy produced by this process must be cooled down, resulting in an energy deficit. This type of laser has a maximum energy efficiency of 27%, which is relatively low. On the other hand, the fiber laser generates light that stays inside a glass fiber, with no mirrors, outcoupling, or fiber coupling. These lasers have energy rates of 40% and are increasing every year, resulting in highly compact laser systems.
Yes it is possible to pass true transparant materials like water and glass.The laser will lose a bit of the power by absorption losses in the water depending on the water quality. But yes you can derust under water.
While it is true that lasers are capable of cutting into human tissue, it is essential to note that this refers explicitly to CO2 CW steel cutting/welding lasers. Within the medical field, these lasers have been utilized to remove tumours due to their ability to stop bleeding after the incision. UV lasers, on the other hand, are the preferred choice for eye surgeons as they are able to cut organic human tissue. The cleaning lasers utilized are primarily Infra Red pulsed lasers, inherently less problematic than their continuous wave (CW) counterparts. This is because infrared laser light can easily be transmitted through a flexible glass fibre rather than relying on mirrors like CO2 lasers.
Additionally, human skin does not absorb this type of radiation well, except for darker-coloured hairs or tattoos on the skin. The inks used in tattoos are usually heavy metal-based, so when exposed to the laser, the chemicals boil and evaporate in the skin tissue and blood vessels. While an infrared pulsed cleaning laser cannot cut through fingers, it can cause significant burning wounds if held in one spot for an extended period.
Lasers are costly tools and are often 2-4 times more expensive than traditional processes like sandblasting dry ice and chemicals.But the operational costs are only 1/10 of the traditional techniques.
A chemical process is very cheap to start but has high operational costs and unacceptable human risks today when an accident occurs. Blasting processes have a high blasting material, energy - and maintenance cost. The dry ice process is probably the most costly process around. First, we need compressed air to produce dry ice at a high carbon footprint.We know dry ice is promoted as a renewable stream out of other processes, but finally, it is fake news.It is a waste stream product, creating afterwards more carbon dioxide. So yes laser cleaning is the ultimate process to integrate in a brand-new process line. Unfortunately, in 90% of the cases, we want to replace a multi-functional traditional process. Do we have a chance? Absolutely if you need a low-cost production on demand. . Only top efficient production organisations can capitalize massively by investing and adapting their processes. They will take the lead in their segment. Integrating lasers will eliminate unclear quality problems because now you have a controllable process, not adding extra production problems.
Fibre lasers have built-in security devices to avoid this kind of error. After a fibre cut, the laser source will be cut off in some µseconds. In case the light should come out, it will be very fast divergent and lose all density to provoke a danger.
We often encounter this question to replace an existing sandblasting activity. In 80% of yhe cases, we cannot! Why ? A traditional free manual blasting cabinet can handle a multi-span-off part dimensions without any problems. The mobile laser can also clean a lot off parts but cannot be compared to laser cleaning. The speed of 2,5 m2/hr to strip a paint layer PU 300 µm is to slow compared with a sandblaster at 6-8m2/hr. The sandblaster is outrunning in most cases the laser cleaning system. Only if you have some dedicated requirements the laser cleaning can crawl back in the game. You have a single part to br treated in an automated process you get everything you want. You can get the same result on every part, you can have an inline quality tracing system, your process can run on start/stop intervals and you get the smallest carbon footprint on energy level and lowest waste stream.
So yes laser cleaning will pay itself back numerous times compared to sandblasting in this case. This is the most difficult point for traditional industry to cope with. Integrating laser cleaning demands very clear choices in your process thinking. But in today's industrial world, new big constraints are around product quality and slim energy-based processes with low environmental impact.
Today on YouTube we see a lot of companies presenting their laser magic by derusting a surface that looks like new. Even the most Chinese-offered lasers are non-pulsed low-cost lasers with high power outputs. So what is the catch here? First you need to know that there are a lot of different types of rust. We have deep rust and superficial surface rust where the base material is not affected, also called pitting rust. The Chinese laser companies ignore the differences and sell you a low-cost CW laser. They even have scientific university studies to explain the good derusting possibilities with a continuous. Laser called CW. In the laser world, the CW laser is the most easy laser you can produce. The Chinese dominate the CW market with cutting and marking lasers of this type and try to sell you this type as a magic cleaning system. Due to the fact the derusting is based on a shrinking or dilatation effect, in short, the breaking of the oxide particle from the surface by the difference of temperature between surface and particle, you need a shock effect to clean it. So only pulsed laser are more efficient. The CW laser is a heating device and turns the red rust particles into the a black rust-oxide variant. If you need to paint your surface, this is not a good surface preparation. Pitting rust is also difficult for a pulsed laser because now the rust particle has adherence on the surface. If you clean it the surface will look dark grey, but below there is still rust.
In general, we can say the solid state Nd YAG laser source is an older type of laser still used but it has far more maintenance issues than a modern fibre laser. Opposite to the yag laser where the laser light is produced in a Nd crystal rod with two mirrors at each end the light in a fibre laser is conceived into a fibre directly and guided in one way to the output fibre. Everything stays in the fibre and results in a very high wall plug efficiency instead of the YAG laser, where you have a critical cristal cavity cooling. Further, you need to couple the outcoming laser beam into a fibre. You can imagine the sensitivity of injecting a 100-micrometre laser spot into a 400-micrometre diameter fibre. A lot can go wrong with changing environment as those lasers are vibration sensitive. A YAG laser will produce a more flat type laser beam, making this laser soft and non-aggressive on most surfaces. The fibre laser produces a more Gaussian type of laser energy distribution beam. With suitable optics, this higher beam quality can be tuned down to get a flat beam type.If you take into account the pulse duration is always constant with a fibre laser over different frequency settings and totally not with a YAG laser, your choice must be a fibre laser. Also, the dimensions of a YAG laser are far bigger because of the cooling you need and bulky electronic frequency generators. The future is clearly with the fibre lasers because of the higher efficiency and no maintenance aspects of the source itself.
Yes, the fibre length is limited by the amount of energy you can guide true a glass fibre. You have high-energy lasers and low energy density lasers. A low-density laser can have up to 100 m fibre. We produced a 2000 watt system with 100m fibre in 2021. You cannot avoid a quality change of your laser light after passing true 100 m of fibre. The power loss is very marginal, but the laser beam has lost a bit of its light quality. This will be seen as you try to focus this light at the end of the fibre.
The low-power systems ( but those are high density) will have 5-8 m as an absolute maximum for the moment.
In most systems, we use fixed pulse length. Depending on the fibre length and light quality we are limited in sending a certain amount of energy through an optical fibre. If we have a pulse of 1mj and 100 nanoseconds long, then we are sending 10 Kw through the fibre. A fibre can withstand a certain amount of energy and can behave non-linear if pushed to the limit. Therefore we could say the pulse duration is an important factor to consider on the engineering side. For the cleaning process, we can conclude: the shorter the puls length or duration the higher the energy shock on the surface and the less the thermal influence. on the surface. Oxides are not so sensitive to shorter pulse lengths but we prefer the non-re-oxidation effect of the shorter duration. For paints or organics, a longer pulslenght is more efficient to overcome the thermal isolation topic. if to short, the energy is not enough transferred to the paint layer. Only for special applications do we need to consider the pulslenght as an important factor. Seen the fact the pulse duration has some big influence on fibre and optics and there overload risks it is better to have a fixed pulse duration instead of a variable one which could lead to errors.
Mostly we can clean metals and non-metals, also, organic and inorganic ( stones) can be cleaned to a certain degree. To have a good cleaning result, we need an as dark as possible contamination and highly reflective light-coloured substrate to avoid damage. Black smoke deposit on a sandstone is easy to clean. Yellow paint on sandstone is more difficult because this yellow colour is not absorbing well the laser radiation. Laser will remove nearly all oxides in a very big range of metals and non-metals. A shrinking-off effect on the surface removes oxides; the oxide layer has a different energy-heating speed or flux than the substrate. Oxides also absorb more energy than the highly reflective aluminium surface. Example: You can remove ink on a white paper without burning the paper. Lasers are also used to remove hair or tattoos; this is based on the higher absorption of those black hairs and the darker-than-skin tattoo ink. The human skin is not absorbing very well the infrared laser light.
Many so-called Chinese CW laser models are on the market, claiming to be a cheap cleaning solution. Yes, the CW laser is a very cheap laser, but it can not be compared with the pulsed laser. Laser cleaning is a surface balance equation between heating and cooling down. The contamination present on the surface must be quickly heated without heating the surface and damaging it. This sensitive balance is only possible with pulsed lasers that will shoot very short ( 100 nanoseconds long) heat-energy- bullets to the surface. The bullet size can be regulated over the software and optical lenses in time. Although we shoot 100,000 bullets a second (100Khz) with a specific energy value (millijoule), the surface can cool down between the laser bullets. This prevents the surface to be overheated and provokes melting on the surface. Every material consists of atoms and electrons circling around, if energy is added to a material, the electrons starts to vibrate more. Going back to the normal state is called: electron relaxation time which is measured in nano seconds. A pulsed laser can make the electron vibrate but leaves enough relaxation time to bring the electron back in normal relaxation mode. Therefore, you need a pulsed laser to obtain a cleaning result that can be repeated. A continuous wave laser or CW shoots a constant amount of energy to the surface, which you cannot control in a manual operation. The bandwidth of useability is 1 against 1000 for a pulsed laser. A CW laser is used for cutting, welding, hardening or cladding. Even in the cutting and welding process, research is developing towards pulsed systems to have more control on the surface. The heat impact is not wanted because it creates oxides in the melt pool. With a cw laser, you create an unwanted overheating effect on your surface; sandblasting will be needed to get a quality reference surface to paint. Cw lasers are mainly a Chinese marketing joke to mislead customers at low prices. They are not on the same quality level as the Western companies about production processes and final customer quality.
In the future, we will see shorter pulse lengths be used for cleaning. Scientific lasers with femto and pico second pulses already exist but are expensive. With a femto-second pulse duration, the energy transition to the surface is so short that the material is not affected by heat impact.
Prices in the different countries are the responsibility of our distributors. However, in general, P-Laser Low Power machines start from 60.000 euros.
To operate a cleaning laser, you need electricity: 0.4 kW (50W) to 7 kW (1000W). Furthermore, some cleaning lasers use compressed air. Lastly, there is a yearly fee for the P-Laser software, Cleansweep.
Low Power P-Lasers are air-cooled, and don't require a lot of maintenance. However, it is important to keep the lens and filters clean at all time.
Mid and High Power P-Lasers are water cooled, and require a bit more maintenance. Check the filters and chillers every month. Keep the lens clean at all time.
We recommend a yearly check-up of your system by P-Laser staff. We also offer a remote monitoring service, with which P-Laser staff can check alarms, temperatures, humidity etc. as a proactive tool.
P-Laser offers one day of training for every customer. The training includes a safety course and training on how to operate the laser and how to use the software.
To be able to suggest the right solution, we need some information on the application, such as:
- What is the application?
- Which industry are we talking about?
- Which cleaning method do you use at the moment?
- What is the contamination you want to remove?
- What is the thickness of the layer?
- What is the type of base material?
- What is the surface (in m² or in m²/hour) that has to be cleaned?
- Do you need an in-line application?
- How often do you need to clean the material?
We always need to test the result of laser cleaning on your material, as every application is different.
The speed with which a laser can clean a surface depends on the power of the laser, the software settings, and the variables mentioned above. For example, the removal of wax from a piece of aluminum takes 12m²/hour with a 500W machine; removing blue epoxy paint takes an hour for 2m² with a 100W machine, and removing decolorisation from a weld can be done at a speed of 8.6 m/min.
However, every application has to be tested to determine the best possible cleaning speed.
Generally speaking, automated applications and robots achieve the highest cleaning speed.
Laser cleaning is a safe cleaning method, but the radiation is dangerous for the eyes. Always use appropriate laser goggles when the machine is active.
P-Laser Low and Mid Power Machines work with 110-220V, High Power Lasers require 380-440V.
The laser works in the following 'normal' conditions: temperatures between 0 and 38°C, and humidity is between 25 and 55%. If the environment is too hot, cold or humid, P-Laser suggests using climatisation and/or dehumidification.
All systems can be automated or mounted on a robot.
Yes, we have some installations that have been running 24/7 for years.
The laser beam can go up to 20cm wide (focal length 400mm). However, this is not the most important aspect of the laser beam. An essential element for our lasers is the CleanSweep software, which allows you to change the frequency, intensity, shape and size of the laser beam. The combination of these variables offers efficient configurations for different applications.
Yes, our software CleanMark allows marking texts and images with Low Power and High Power Machines.
Yes, we can test laser cleaning on your material. After the test, we send you the test results, along with videos of the cleaning process.