Oxygen is essential to life — it makes up the air we breathe, helps spark fires, and contributes to plant growth. While oxygen is incredibly beneficial and crucial to the survival of mankind, it also plays a role in breaking down or corroding metal objects. This occurs through a process called oxidation, and it results in rust accumulating on your high-quality applications — including heavy machinery, aircraft, and Navy ships. Cleaning solutions can help remove rust and other contaminants, but when it comes to laser cleaning versus sandblasting, which choice is the best solution for you?
WHAT IS SANDBLASTING?
Similar to other forms of media blasting, sandblasting propels a stream of media using high-pressure to forcibly remove surface contaminants from objects. As you may have guessed, this media is most commonly a sand-mixture, but other media can be used — including glass beads and walnut shells. Rust isn’t the only thing sandblasting can remove. It’s also optimized for cleaning, deburring, pre-treatment for coating, and paint removal.
SANDBLASTING PROS & CONS
ADVANTAGES OF SANDBLASTING
Sandblasting is most effective for very large rusted areas. It can clean large surface areas much faster than most other alternatives. It’s also used for thicker contaminants. Since it uses high-pressure to forcibly remove contaminants, it effectively blasts through thick surface materials — removing it from the substrate.
DISADVANTAGES OF SANDBLASTING
While sandblasting will always have its uses, there are many drawbacks to the solution. Media blasting is incredibly harmful to the environment and requires specialized handling and disposal of the media — especially when blasting hazardous contaminants such as lead-based paint. The solution is abrasive and breaks down the equipment used to operate the solution, and it also damages the substrate of the product that you’re cleaning — meaning you’ll have more expenses in replacing equipment and high-quality appliances.
Sandblasting can also be damaging to operators. A full-body suit is required to operate the media blasting solution safely, and any exposed skin is at risk. The cleaning solution also requires a well-ventilated area, as exposure to the media can cause health risks — including lung disease and choking.
WHAT IS LASER CLEANING?
Also known as laser ablation, laser technology distributes thousands of focused laser pulses per second onto contamination layers. The laser light absorbs the contaminants, changes the state to a gas, and captures it — making it an ideal way of removing contaminants without damaging the substrate. In addition to effectively removing rust from targeted areas, laser cleaning is typically used for:
- Bonding preparation
- Coating preparation
- Nuclear decontamination
- Surface prep for NDI
- Welding/brazing preparation
- Welding post-treatment
LASER CLEANING PROS & CONS
ADVANTAGES OF LASER ABLATION
Unlike media blasting, laser cleaning is safer — for the environment, the equipment used to operate it, and your employees. It creates little to no waste and requires no additional cleanup. And, the only safety precautions needed to prevent most — if not all — risks are training, safety glasses, and a designated optical hazard zone. Laser technology absorbs and removes contaminants safely without impacting the substrate. That means that your products will last longer and you’ll save on the expenses of repairing or buying new appliances.
DISADVANTAGES OF LASER ABLATION
Laser cleaning is one of the best methods for removing contaminants from metal and non-metals, but it’s not suitable for all projects. Laser technology works best for small, targeted areas, so larger surface areas can take longer to clean and may not produce desired results. Laser cleaning is also restricted when cleaning crevices — such as the inside of pipes. If you can’t see an area, then the laser won’t be able to effectively clean that area either.
Laser Cleaning vs Sandblasting
Laser cleaning may serve a similar purpose as sandblasting when it comes to removing rust, different oxides, oil, grease, and paint. But, laser ablation removes contaminants with little to no impact on the underlying material — something sandblasting can’t promise.
In comparison, some materials are easier to clean or more effective with sandblasting, despite the seemingly negative effects. This means when comparing laser cleaning versus sandblasting, the right answer may depend on the type of product needing to be cleaned. The best way to determine if laser cleaning is suitable for your specific product is to test it in the Adapt Laser lab. Some examples of common products include:
|Car Restoration/Underside of a Car||Not Ideal||Most Ideal Solution|
|Heavy Equipment Maintenance||Not Ideal||Most Ideal Solution|
|Metal, aircraft structure||Most Ideal Solution||Not Ideal|
|Rusted Hardware||Most Ideal Solution||Not Ideal|
|Welded Parts||Most Ideal Solution||Not Ideal|
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.
Contact us today or call (816) 466-5855 to find the right laser cleaning solution for you.