Start writi'How to choose a laser cleaning machine?' is a commonly asked question by professionals across various industries. There are many cleaning solutions available for industrial applications. However, a laser cleaning machine is the most preferred method across all segments by leaps and bounds regarding surface cleaning operations.
The benefits that Laser cleaning machines bring to the table are second to none. The vast applications have brought forward many different types of laser cleaning options. Therefore, it is important to know what factors are influential when navigating through the options.
This article will go through all there is to know in order to choose the right laser cleaning machine for your particular application.
What is a Laser Cleaning Machine?
A laser cleaning machine is a type of industrial cleaning equipment that uses the principle of laser ablation for removing contaminants from a surface. The contaminants can be dirt, dust, grease, oil, rust, oxides, paint, or any other coating. The energy from the laser beam transfers to the contaminants and heats them. The contaminant particles vaporize, resulting in complete surface cleaning.
What are the Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Laser Cleaning Machine?
The following factors are important when buying a laser cleaning machine for your requirements:
Laser Cleaning Machine Parameters
Laser cleaning machine parameters are the different characteristics that reflect its performance. You need to understand each parameter to know which value will be suitable for you.
Laser power is the amount of energy in the laser beam that is absorbed by the contaminants as heat. It is measured in Watts (W). For a continuous laser beam, the power of the Laser is the same as the power of the system. However, for a pulsed laser beam, the power of the system is the average power of pulses.
There are three distinct groups for the classification of laser power levels:
Low Power Level
Low power levels vary between the range of 20 Watts to 100 Watts. Choosing a low power laser if your application requirements include:
Injection Molding Rubbers
Mid Power Level
Mid power levels vary between 100 Watts to 500 Watts. Mid power level laser cleaning machine is used for applications such as:
Surface preparation for welding
High Power Level
High power levels vary between 500 Watts and go up to thousands of watts (rated in kilowatts). Some of the applications of high power laser cleaner are:
Removing hazardous coating
Removing firm corrosion from the metal surface
Decontamination of nuclear material
Large mold release agents cleaning
Surface smoothing varnish
What is the most powerful laser cleaning machine?
The LaserBlast Cleaning System is one of the most powerful laser cleaning machine. It has multiple power modes such as 100 W, 200 W, 500 W, 1000 W, and 2000 W. This can remove any type of contaminants in every industrial sector required.
The laser cleaner's wavelength demonstrates the light's penetration depth into the contaminants. The correct wavelength depends on the type of contaminant being cleaned. Shorter wavelengths are preferable in laser cleaning due to better absorption by the contaminants. Wavelengths of Laser vary with the type of generation source used. Commonly encountered wavelengths are:
UV Laser- 355 nm
Nd:YAG Laser- 1064 nm
CO2 Laser- 10600 nm
Ti: Sapphire Laser- 650 nm to 1100 nm
Fiber Laser- 1030 nm
The pulse duration is the time for which a single pulse is in contact with the surface. This is one of the important parameters for a pulsed laser. In the area of laser cleaning, the pulse duration is expressed in microseconds μs(10^−6 seconds), nanoseconds ns (10^-9 seconds), or picoseconds ps (10^-12 seconds). Typical pulse durations for various types of lasers are:
Excimer Laser- 10 ns
CO2 Laser- 100 ns
Nd:YAG Laser- 10 ns
Ti:Sapphire Laser- 10^-5 to 10^-3 ns
The spot size refers to the smallest possible diameter of a laser at the point of focus. In laser cleaning, the spot size is measured at the point of contact with the surface. A smaller spot size allows for a higher energy density in the laser beam. This provides a deeper and faster cleaning. However, narrowing down the spot size beyond a certain limit may be damaging to the underlying surface. Increasing the spot size too much will cause laser cleaning impossible and will initiate the laser welding process.
The scanning speed determines how fast laser pulses can move around the target object for surface cleaning. The scans at different locations are done through the internal optic mechanism of the laser system. The scanning speed also creates gaps or overlaps between the adjacent pulses. The overlap ratio might sometimes be required, depending on the product being cleaned. An important thing to note is that a higher overlap ratio tends to alter or damage the underlying surface.
Types of Laser Cleaning Machine
Laser cleaning machines come in varying designs to suit the requirements of different users. The different types of laser cleaning machines are:
Handheld Laser Cleaning Machine
A handheld laser cleaning machine is a portable system. The laser gun is small in size and can be easily moved around by hand. The generation system is still more bulky than generally expected. The generation system is present in a large cabinet that can be moved around through inbuilt wheels. Handheld laser cleaning machines are generally used by small workshops, hobbyists, DIY projects, or for industrial setup with low volume production.
Handheld lasers usually have controls for adjusting laser parameters suiting different applications. However, a handheld laser cleaning machine due to the open nature of the generated Laser. The working area should be properly marked for other people. The operator should wear safety gear such as goggles.
Manually Loaded Laser Cleaning Machine
A manually loaded leader cleaning machine has a compartment inside where the object can be put inside. The lasers move around the enclosure to clean the surface from various sides. This is safer than a handheld laser cleaning machine due to a completely enclosed laser interface. The loading and unloading of the part is done by the operator. A manually loaded laser cleaning machine usually has wheels to move around the equipment. Manually loaded laser cleaning machine can be very limiting when it comes to the size of the part that requires cleaning.
Conveyor Laser Cleaning Machine
A conveyor laser cleaning machine is installed on the conveyor belt of the production line. This provides a convenient solution to clean bulk parts automatically. Conveyor laser cleaner is usually installed before manufacturing processes such as welding or using adhesives. The automotive industry is the most common application of these laser cleaners.
Robotic Laser Cleaning Machine
A robotic laser cleaning machine has a laser cleaner mounted on robotic arms. The robots can do the loading, unloading, and movement of the part automatically. The laser system can be made with simpler optics since the robotic arms can change the part orientation.
Custom Laser Cleaning System
A custom laser cleaning system is used when a pre-built machine cannot fulfill the required application optimally. Custom laser cleaning systems are designed around the specific requirements of the user. It can use a combination of robotic arms, conveyors, compartments, or other laser cleaner designs.
Laser Generation Medium
Many different types of laser cleaning machines depend on the laser generation method. Each generation method provides its particular benefits, limitations, and difference in laser parameters. The different types of laser cleaning machines are:
CO2 Laser Cleaning
A CO2 laser cleaning machine uses a carbon dioxide gas chamber to generate the laser light. CO2 lasers have a higher pulse width than other lasers. The application of these laser cleaning machines are:
Surface treatment, such as adhesive cleaning
Cleaning rubber parts
UV Laser Cleaning
A UV laser emits light in the ultraviolet wavelength range. It has very high photon energy resulting in quickly removing tough contaminants. Prolonged exposure to a high power UV laser is also useful for laser marking purposes. Some of the applications of UV lasers are:
Optics cleaning and marking
Nd:YAG Laser Cleaning
A Nd:YAG laser uses a crystal to amplify the light beam. Nd:YAG lasers have a very small pulse width, resulting in a faster cleaning process. Some applications of the Nd:YAG laser cleaning machine are:
Rust cleaning laser
Surface cleaning for secondary process preparation
Cleaning tooth decay in Dentistry
Excimer Laser Cleaning
An excimer laser uses a combination of a noble gas and a reactive gas for laser generation. The light in the excimer laser is in the ultraviolet range. Use of different gases in the Laser can create light of different wavelengths. Some applications of excimer laser cleaning machine are:
Semiconductor industrial cleaning
Micromachining organic material
Every laser cleaner requires a fume extraction system. The fume extraction nozzle removes harmful vapors generated during laser cleaning. This is crucial when cleaning toxic coatings and paint. Ensure that the fume extraction system has the proper filter based on the type of contaminants being cleaned.
Type of Contaminants
The type of contaminant will also affect the type of Laser required for the purpose. For instance, when cleaning paint, the color of the paint will determine the type of Laser. The wavelength of a laser can change its color. Using the same color as the contaminant will lead to poor cleaning because the contaminant will absorb the Laser. Therefore, the Laser should have a different wavelength than the color of the contaminants.
Enclosed lasers are the best option for users concerned about safety. Options like the handheld Laser have the laser output fully open. This light can be a hazard and even reflected beams can be disastrous for body parts such as the eyes. However, in an enclosure-type laser, the beam is completely concealed in the cabinet system.
Size of Parts
The size and shape of the parts can also influence the type of Laser you require. Certain options such as the conveyor laser cleaning machine or the manually loaded option limit the part size you can clean with the Laser. This is because the laser compartment has limitations in terms of the geometry. Check the dimensions of the laser cleaning machine work area to know if it can support the loading of your part. Handheld laser cleaning machines can work on parts of any shape and size.
There is a wide price bracket for industrial laser cleaners. The price depends on many factors such as the type of Laser, laser generation system, power, and the other features that come with it. Set a predefined budget before browsing your options so you can shortlist the available products. Remember to take into account the additional costs such as the cost of installation.
How much does a laser cleaning machine cost?
The average cost of a laser cleaning machine can range between $5,000 and $75,000. The lower price range is generally for small handheld laser cleaning machines or inferior products. The laser cleaning machine is made of sensitive and complex optics. Therefore, investing in good quality equipment is essential. Inferior products can break down quite sooner than the expected lifespan.
How to Choose the Right Laser Cleaning Machine For Your Project?
Deciding between various laser cleaners for a particular project can be difficult. Use the guidelines below to make the buying choice easier:
Prioritize laser power above everything else. The machine should have sufficient power to ablate the required contaminants. Many laser cleaning systems come with adjustable power options. Check if the maximum power of the laser cleaning machine meets your minimum requirement.
When your objective is to remove a particular type of material (for instance, red paint), choose the suitable Laser based on the wavelength of the contaminant. The laser wavelength should not match the color of the contaminant particle.
A shorter pulse duration can provide a faster cleaning. However, the pulse duration should not be so small that it misses out on cleaning any spot. Therefore, check the pulse duration value before making the buying decision.
If your laser cleaning machine has mobile application, check the mobility design of the machine. Mobile application makes it important for the laser cleaning machine to have wheels.
A laser machine can get considerably hot. Check if the laser machine you are buying comes with a cooling system. The lack of a cooling system will be damaging to the laser optics.
When comparing costs, add in the cost of installation, spare parts, addons, maintenance, and other operational costs.
It is important to choose trusted laser machine manufacturers instead of cheap and inferior options. Laser machines are made of complex optics that can be time consuming and expensive to repair if something goes wrong. A trusted manufacturer ensures that the components last their expected lifespan. In case of faults reliable manufacturers will provide spare parts promptly.
Compare different manufacturers to know what they are offering. Allied Scientific Pro is the market leader when it comes to laser machines. These machines can be operated by a single operator and require zero consumables. All of these machines are water cooled to ensure long life of the optic systems. Safety glasses are provided complimentary with every model.
Check video demos of various products on the manufacturer's website. This provides an idea of how easy or difficult it is to operate a product.
What are the Best Laser Cleaning Machines?
Professionals consider the Allied Scientific Pro LaserBlast as the best laser cleaning machine. Allied Scientific Pro is an established laser machine manufacturer that provides high-end laser technology with a sturdy built quality. These laser cleaning solutions come with a long optical length of 5 meters. This provides an option for remote cleaning and a high mobility. There are multiple options for the laser power and it can go up to 2000 Watts. The LaserBlast is a maintenance-free cleaning solution that creates cost reduction in the production line. These reasons make LaserBlast the best laser cleaning machine in the market.
Laser cleaning solutions are an effective way of surface treatment and surface cleaning processes in any sector. Unlike conventional technology, laser cleaning process does not rely on consumables, making it a very cost-effective solution. However, the wrong choice can be disastrous for the workpiece, the machine, and even the workforce in the vicinity. Based on the information presented above, you can decide which laser cleaning solution can provide the best results for your requirements.ng here...