The traditional industrial cleaning industry offers a wide range of cleaning methods, mainly utilizing chemical agents and mechanical techniques. However, with increasingly stringent environmental regulations and the growing emphasis on environmental protection and safety, the variety of chemical substances available for industrial cleaning is decreasing.
We have all witnessed the surface rusting of metal parts, which not only affects their appearance but also has a significant impact on their performance. Therefore, rust removal is crucial in industries closely associated with the use of metals. Finding a cleaner and non-damaging cleaning method is a problem we have to consider. Metal laser cleaning machine, with their characteristics of non-abrasiveness, non-contact, non-thermal effects, and suitability for various materials, are considered the most reliable and effective solution. Moreover, laser cleaning can address issues that traditional cleaning methods cannot solve.
Principle of laser rust removal
The principle of metal rust removal laser is that when rust is subjected to high temperatures, it instantly vaporizes. After the plasma is separated, the underlying metal has a high reflectivity to light, so even when exposed to laser, it will not damage the rust-removal area. Therefore, this laser cleaning method is effective and safe, and it can even perfectly clean the corners of components such as letters and bolts. As a result, it can easily handle rust removal, regardless of the difficulty level. As long as the light can reach it, rust has nowhere to hide.
Practical Applications of Laser Cleaning
Laser cleaning can be applied not only for removing organic pollutants but also for cleaning inorganic substances, including metal rust, metal particles, and dust. Below are some real-world applications where these techniques have become highly mature and widely adopted.
（1）Cleaning of Weapons and Equipment
Metal laser cleaning machines are widely used for weapon maintenance and upkeep. By employing laser cleaning systems, rust and contaminants can be efficiently and rapidly removed, with the ability to select specific areas for cleaning, enabling automation of the process. Laser cleaning not only achieves higher cleanliness compared to chemical cleaning methods but also causes minimal damage to the surface of the objects.
By adjusting various parameters, it is also possible to create a dense oxide protective layer or a molten metal layer on the surface of metal objects, enhancing surface strength and corrosion resistance. The waste generated from laser cleaning has minimal impact on the environment and can be operated from a remote distance, effectively reducing potential health risks to operators.
（2）Removal of Old Paint from Aircraft:
Laser cleaning systems have long been utilized in the aerospace industry in Europe. Over time, the surface of an aircraft needs to be repainted, but prior to painting, the old paint needs to be completely removed. Traditional mechanical methods of paint removal can easily damage the metal surface of the aircraft, posing risks to safe flight operations. By employing a metal laser cleaning machine, it is possible to completely remove the paint layer from an A320 Airbus surface within two days, without causing any damage to the metal surface.
（3）Cleaning in the Electronics Industry:
Laser cleaning is used in the electronics industry for the removal of oxides. The electronics industry requires high-precision cleaning, making laser oxide removal particularly suitable. Prior to circuit board soldering, it is essential to thoroughly remove oxides from the component pins to ensure optimal electrical contact, without causing any damage during the cleaning process. Metal rust removal lasers meet these requirements and offer high efficiency, as a single laser shot is sufficient to clean a pin.
（4）Precise Ester Cleaning in the Precision Machinery Industry:
The precision machinery industry often requires the removal of esters and mineral oils used for lubrication and corrosion resistance on components. Typically, chemical methods are used for cleaning, but residue can still remain after chemical cleaning. Metal laser cleaning machines can completely remove esters and mineral oils without damaging the surface of the components. The removal of contaminants is accomplished through shockwaves generated by the explosive vaporization of the thin oxide layer on the surface of the parts, rather than through mechanical interaction. Thorough ester removal from materials is utilized in the cleaning of mechanical components for the aerospace industry. Laser cleaning can also be employed for the removal of oils and esters in the processing of mechanical parts.
Advantages of Metal Rust Removal Laser:
（1）Green Cleaning: No use of any chemical agents, and the waste generated after cleaning is a harmless solid powder, completely addressing the environmental pollution caused by chemical cleaning.
（2）Non-Damaging Cleaning: Laser cleaning is non-abrasive, non-contact, and has no thermal effects. It does not exert mechanical forces on the cleaned object, causing no damage to the surface or substrate and avoiding secondary pollution.
（3）Cost-Effective Cleaning: While the initial investment in a laser cleaning system may be higher, it provides long-term stability with a lifespan of up to 10 years. It has low operating costs, high speed, high efficiency, and time-saving benefits. The return on investment can be quickly achieved, and in the long run, the overall cost is lower compared to traditional cleaning methods.
（4）Precise and Accurate Cleaning: Laser cleaning can effectively remove various types of contaminants from the surfaces of different materials, achieving a level of cleanliness that conventional cleaning methods cannot match. Moreover, it can selectively clean contaminants on material surfaces without damaging the material itself.
（5）Automated Cleaning: Laser beams can be transmitted through optical fibers and combined with robotics to achieve remote operation, enabling the cleaning of complex structures that are difficult to reach with traditional methods. This feature also enhances the safety of operators in hazardous environments. Laser cleaning can be integrated with automated equipment to achieve automated cleaning processes.
With the rapid development of technology, high-power laser devices can remove rust from metal surfaces while ensuring that the components themselves are not damaged by utilizing the metal’s reflective properties. Laser rust removal involves using high-frequency, high-energy laser pulses to irradiate the surface of the workpiece. The coating on the surface instantly absorbs the focused laser energy, causing the oil, rust spots, or coatings to evaporate or peel off, effectively and rapidly removing surface contaminants or coatings. The short duration of laser pulses, when used with appropriate parameters, does not harm the metal substrate. The number of laser pulses required depends on the degree of surface contamination, and pulses with energy densities above the threshold will continue to remove contaminants until reaching the base material. Since the energy density is lower than the threshold for damaging the base material, the substrate remains undamaged.
Metal rust removal with laser is both efficient and safe. Even corners and lettering on the surface of components and bolts can be perfectly cleaned. The high frequency and high power characteristics of lasers allow the concentration of kilowatts or even megawatts of energy into a small area. This type of rust removal is a one-time process and avoids the potential harm to human health associated with chemical rust removal methods.