Performance and reliability are the backbone of the aerospace industry. Oftentimes, however, methods of cleaning aircraft and preparing them for coating and bonding are stuck in the past. Despite being at the cutting edge of flight technology, many aerospace companies have failed to take advantage of modern advances in parts cleaning that can save them both time and money. But, what are some of the most common cleaning mistakes you should avoid in the aerospace industry? And, how can you start improving your operations today?
4 COMMON AEROSPACE CLEANING MISTAKES
1. OVER-RELIANCE ON THE HUMAN ELEMENT
People make the world go ‘round, but they can also make mistakes, as we all know. It’s no different when it comes to cleaning aircraft parts. These cleaning processes often involve tedious and complex steps that must be followed exactly in order to avoid deterioration in parts quality — or worse, damaged parts. If working with abrasive pads or chemical solutions, the operator must take care to avoid contact with certain parts and to be extremely cautious against cross contamination every step along the way.
Laser ablation technology allows for both manual and automated cleaning options, but even in the case of handheld operation, it’s a much more forgiving process than conventional cleaning methods. Laser cleaning removes contaminant layers without any damage to the substrate, which means that the cleaning mechanism is not a danger to the parts you’re trying to clean, unlike abrasive methods. In cases where laser cleanings can be automated, human error is practically eliminated altogether. This not only speeds up your regular operations, it also frees up your skilled human resources to perform other tasks.
In any industry that relies heavily on precise coatings application, masking is a familiar practice. Whether you’re using tap, wax, or other masking media, it works basically the same — you painstakingly cover the parts you want protected, apply the surface coatings, and remove the masked layer when the coating is finished. Unsurprisingly, masking is time consuming and leaves a lot of room for mistakes along the way. Efficient masking also requires a high level of skill, which can vary greatly from person to person.
Laser cleaning approaches coatings application from the opposite direction. You first apply the coatings layers, and once it’s complete, simply use a laser cleaner to remove the coating from any parts needed. This includes parts with threading, electrical contacts, and even design elements, such as logos and branding. Laser cleaning removes both the time delay of masking as well as the likelihood of error in the coating application process. And, because our cleaning laser solutions are calibrated to particular power thresholds, only the contaminate/coating layer is removed, leaving the substrate safe from any negative impact of cleaning.
3. POOR QUALITY CONTROL
Poor quality control in aircraft cleaning can lead to other problems down the road, such as poor electrical conductivity, weak bonds, susceptibility to corrosion, and more. Because so many conventional methods of parts cleaning require an extreme attention to detail (such as masking) or a highly abrasive approach (such as media blasting), maintaining a consistent product quality can be very difficult.
Since laser cleaning can be used across a wide variety of applications, including coating removal, rust removal, and welding/bonding preparation, ensuring that the aircraft parts are passing quality control measures with high marks is much easier. Laser cleaning solutions can also be designed specifically for a particular industry and application, which allows for a more consistent, predictable output during cleaning processes. Automation options are also available for regular or repetitive cleanings.
4. NEGLECTING MAINTENANCE OF YOUR CLEANING EQUIPMENT
While each of the mistakes mentioned above can be solved simply by switching to laser cleaning technology, this one cannot. Even if you purchase the greatest laser cleaner on the market, it requires proper upkeep and maintenance to perform well. Luckily, our cleaning laser solutions are relatively low-maintenance. For the most part, you’ll just need to make sure the optics are clean before use. The air filters and cooling system also need routine maintenance. For more extensive maintenance and support, we offer service contracts to ensure your laser cleaning experience is as pain-free as it should be.
WHATEVER YOUR NEEDS, ADAPT LASER HAS A SOLUTION FOR IT
Adapt Laser specializes in the know-how and application of laser cleaning solutions. We offer products with a range between 20 and 2,000 watts and provide training to ensure your employees can get the most from their laser cleaning solutions. We’ve equipped a variety of industries and companies with laser cleaning solutions — including military and defense for the US Air Force and Navy — and hundreds of organizations trust our state-of-the-art laser cleaning solutions.