What is Laser Ablation?

laser ablation

Whether your products are brand new or you’ve been using them for years, your equipment and other metal compounds can often have layers of contaminants seemingly stuck to the surface. This makes a large impact on the efficiency of your production line and equipment. But, cleaning your products isn’t as easy as blasting them with media. You need something that’s going to provide a consistent, safe clean without damaging the integrity of your structure — you need laser technology


Laser ablation is the process where contaminants are absorbed and removed from solid metals and industrial compounds. It uses thousands of laser pulses per second for precision cleaning without damaging the structure — if the process and equipment are set up correctly. Laser ablation is used across a variety of industries — for cleaning metals and other products.


When the laser is directed onto a surface area, the contaminant layers and oxides on the surface absorb the laser light and changes state from a solid into a gas — clearing the layers of contaminants. How efficiently and effectively this occurs depends on three factors:

  1. Wavelength. There should be maximum absorption of contaminants with minimum absorption into the substrate. The wavelength of light is determined by the source selected. This source can also impact your beam shape and size.
  2. Pulsing & Scanning Frequency. By adjusting the speed of the pulse, you can generate a lot of energy in a very short duration. The less frequent the pulse turns on and off, the more intense the laser becomes as it emits greater amounts of energy in a pulse. Alternatively, by pulsing the laser source on and off more frequently, the less intense the laser emission will be. The pulsing nature of a laser is what causes drastically different interactions to substrates compared to cutting, marking, and welding lasers — which continuously emit energy towards a surface. Scanning frequency is the rate at which these pulses of light are overlapped. By adjusting the pulse overlaps, quality, and rate of cleaning, you can ensure a clean that’s different and more effective than any continuous-wave laser.
  3. Optics. The optics are used to focus the beam and adjust the intensity level onto the contaminants and surface. While the intensity is set by the laser source and the pulsing frequency, the ultimate beam spot size is determined by the optics. By adjusting the optics, you can ensure that the integrity of the substrate is kept safe and that the targeted area is cleaned to the desired effect.

Each of these factors is adjusted based on the type of surface material needing to be cleaned and the layer of contaminants covering the metal or nonmetal surface. To ensure the safest and most effective cleaning, you’ll need proper testing, training, and setup. Adapt-Laser has the knowledge and background to determine and prepare the solution for your facility so that your operators have everything they need to get started — which the highest efficiency and results possible.


The laser ablation process focuses on a specific area to quickly get the desired results. It can be used for bonding preparation, coating preparation, welding/brazing preparation, mold cleaning, surface prep for NDI, and more. The beam of light pulses over a surface area, absorbing into layers of contaminants and effectively removing them as gas particles. Regardless of scan frequency — which is how much area is overlapped during pulses — laser ablation is relatively safe for the substrate. Using the proper settings and equipment, you can clean targeted areas with little to no risk.


By using lasers to remove contaminants, laser ablation is an environmentally-friendly alternative to cleaning operations. It provides a quick and efficient cleaning without damaging the integrity of the product. By adjusting the settings, you can provide a quality clean to a variety of industries — from electronics to aerospace. It’s important to note, however, that laser optics do have limitations, and no matter how you adjust the beam, you may not be able to clean some crevices or hard to see areas. Despite those limitations, other benefits include:

  • Extending the life of your equipment
  • No consumables, media, chemicals, or leftover residue
  • A safer environment for your employees
  • Non-damaging components
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • No additional waste


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 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.

Contact us today or call (816) 466-5855 to find the right laser cleaning solution for you.