Every business has a responsibility to keep their employees safe. Not only is this standard upheld by individuals and unions, but it’s also required by federal requirements — like OSHA compliance. The gray line with safety falls into whether someone is trained on safety best practices and also if the persons in question are implementing the safety procedures correctly. While laser cleaning is considered the safest method for cleaning metal and non-metal appliances, does that mean it’s truly safe for employees and operators?
WHAT IS LASER CLEANING?
Regardless of your industry, you likely use tools, equipment, or vehicles that require the occasional TLC. Whether it’s an aircraft like the F-35 jet or a conveyor belt piece that has slightly rusted with use, these products need a cleaning solution that will renew their lifespan by eliminating surface contaminants. That’s where laser cleaning comes in.
Laser technology uses thousands of focused laser pulses per second to cut through contamination layers — making it an ideal way of blasting them away. Because not all layers are made of the same components, different types of lasers can be used for different cleanings — with products ranging between 20 and 1,000 watts.
HOW DOES LASER CLEANING WORK?
As the laser is focused on a sample area covered by foreign surface matter, the contaminant absorbs the light, and the chemical bond is broken down — turning the material into gas and removing it using high pressure. Laser technology is most effective at eliminating:
HOW IS LASER CLEANING USED?
Laser cleaning provides a powerful clean without damaging or deteriorating the substrate of the product you’re cleaning. In a broad sense, it’s typically used for:
- Bonding preparation
- Coating preparation
- Mold and tool cleaning
- Nuclear decontamination
- Surface prep for NDI
- Welding/brazing preparation
- Welding post-treatment
IS LASER CLEANING SAFE?
Unlike other forms of media cleaning — such as sandblasting or dry ice blasting — laser cleaning is safer for operators and employees. It doesn’t produce additional waste and is environmentally-friendly. Plus, it’s non-damaging and non-conductive, meaning it’s safe for the material you’re cleaning as well.
Operating a low-, mid-, or high-powered laser is relatively safe and only requires laser protective glasses and designated laser-safe areas within an optical hazard zone. No gloves are required, but training and education should be acquired in order to learn how to use the cleaning technology safely and properly. Training also includes learning about what settings work best for your specific cleaning needs, to ensure you get the most effective clean without damaging the structure.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
While laser technology is considered one of the safer methods for cleaning metal and non-metal materials, there are ways to abuse safety regulations and cause harm to yourself or other individuals. Cleaning lasers should never be used:
- Without protective eyewear
- Directly on the skin or body
- In an uncontrolled environment
- Without designated signage to warn of laser cleaning in progress
- In the immediate vicinity of unprotected individuals
- On anything other than it’s intended purpose
- Without proper air filtration
In addition, cleaning non-metallic products — such as wood, paper, or plastics — should be done only with the appropriate settings and in a designated optical hazard zone. If the cleaning solution is using the wrong settings, it could ignite your appliances. As with other high-voltage items, you’ll also need the proper training to avoid electrocution and learn other electrical precautions.
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 1,000 watts and provide training — including laser safety procedures, equipment operations, and maintenance, and troubleshooting — 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 Airforce and Navy — and hundreds of organizations trust our state-of-the-art laser cleaning solutions.