With China’s “14th Five-Year Plan” and the 2035 Vision Goal prioritizing the development of a strong manufacturing country and promoting innovation in industries such as integrated circuits, aerospace, ship and marine engineering equipment, robots, and advanced rail transit equipment, laser cleaning technology emerges as a significant player. Compared to traditional industrial cleaning methods like “chemical,” “dry ice,” “sandblasting,” “mechanical polishing,” and “ultrasonic,” laser cleaning offers environmentally friendly and cost-effective advantages, making it a crucial factor in enhancing China’s high-end manufacturing equipment industry’s competitiveness.
Principle of Laser Cleaning
Laser cleaning technology involves using high-energy laser beams to irradiate the workpiece’s surface, causing instant evaporation or peeling of dirt, rust spots, or coatings. This process effectively removes surface attachments or coatings from the cleaned objects at high speed, achieving a thorough cleaning process. Unlike traditional cleaning methods, laser cleaning is pollution-free, noise-free, and harmless to both humans and the environment. Its eco-friendly nature classifies it as a “green” cleaning technology.
Applications of Laser Cleaning
Laser cleaning technology finds widespread applications in various fields, including:
- Precision Instruments: Laser cleaning efficiently removes esters and mineral oils used for lubrication and corrosion resistance on precision instrument parts, leaving no residues.
- Steel Rails:Laser cleaning provides high-quality and efficient cleaning for China’s high-speed railway track-laying production, eliminating welding defects and enhancing the safety and stability of high-speed railway operation.
- Aviation Industry: Laser cleaning achieves high-quality removal of old aircraft surface painting during maintenance, replacing the laborious and chemical-soaking methods.
- Cultural Relic Protection Industry: Laser cleaning is extensively used in cleaning cultural relics, handicrafts, and building materials, restoring their original appearance without damaging the artifacts.
- Medical Industry: Laser cleaning is applied for tattoo and eyebrow tattoo removal, effectively breaking down pigment particles without harming the patient’s skin.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Laser Cleaning
- Environmentally friendly, no chemical agents or detergents required.
- Produces small, solid powder waste that is easy to store and recycle.
- Non-contact cleaning without damaging workpieces and no residual media or secondary pollution.
- Remote operation ensures personnel safety in hazardous areas.
- Can be combined with computer numerical control systems or mechanical arms/robots for automatic cleaning, improving efficiency and reducing labor intensity.
- Low maintenance costs as it doesn’t require consumables.
- Relatively high cost of laser cleaning equipment compared to traditional methods.
- Ineffectiveness on irregularly shaped objects or narrow spaces.
- Difficulty in cleaning internal spaces, such as pipe inner walls, more effectively achieved through traditional methods like immersion acid washing.
- Controlling the laser’s power to suit different types of dirt and prevent surface damage remains a challenge.
Laser cleaning technology, despite its promising advantages, still faces some challenges, hindering its widespread popularity in the market. To transform it into a sought-after product, continuous improvements in technology, cost-effectiveness, and the exploration of more application scenarios are necessary. As the industry focuses on addressing these limitations, laser cleaning’s potential to revolutionize industrial cleaning methods will undoubtedly gain traction, contributing significantly to the growth of China’s high-end manufacturing equipment industry.