Whether you’re looking to remove stubborn paint or paint that is hazardous — such as lead or chrome-based — there are a few solutions that can help. But, some paint removal options are safer than others. Blasting can be harmful to the environment, but laser technology provides a safer and more environmentally-friendly cleaning solution. What is laser cleaning, and how does it compare to other paint stripping solutions?
ADVANTAGES OF BLASTING
Blasting options including sandblasting or dustless blasting remove paint from metal and non-metal materials. Each works extremely well on large surface areas, removing paint quickly. While sandblasting does this with dry sand, dustless blasting uses wet sand instead — causing less damage to the substrate.
Because it causes less damage, dustless blasting can also be used for softer materials. Non-damaging solutions extend the lifespan of your products, ensuring you get the longest wear and tear for your operations. Plus, dustless blasting is less harmful to the equipment that distributes it, meaning you won’t have to repair or replace the application as often.
DISADVANTAGES OF BLASTING
Although dustless blasting is one of the most common paint removal options, it’s not much safer than its sandblasting counterpart. Blasting is extremely loud and requires safety wear, including hearing protectors, protective suits, face masks, and gloves. Even though dustless blasting doesn’t create dust plumes like sandblasting, removing lead or chrome-based paints can still be extremely dangerous to the operators and environment.
Hazardous coatings require a specific collection and disposal process. This also includes special equipment to clean, collect, and dispose of the hazardous materials — which begins accelerating the price of the solution. Without considering the price of cleaning and disposing of hazardous material, operating blasting equipment is fairly expensive and requires a source to operate.
LASER ABLATION — A SAFER, PAINT STRIPPING ALTERNATIVE
Laser cleaning is a non-damaging and safer paint stripping alternative for hazardous coating removal. It works by distributing thousands of focused laser pulses each second through layers of contaminants. This makes it an ideal solution for removing foreign materials like lead or chrome-based paint. Depending on the layers — think rust versus paint — different laser technology is provided, ranging between 20 and 1,000 watts. In addition to removing paint, laser cleaning is also used for:
- Bonding preparation
- Coating preparation
- Nuclear decontamination
- Surface prep for NDI
- Welding/brazing preparation
- Welding post-treatment
HOW IT WORKS
Laser technology works by sending nanosecond length pulses of laser light towards a surface. As it interacts with the paint or other contaminants that absorb laser light, the coating particles will either turn into a gas and the pressure of the interaction will cause contaminants to free from the surface.
Once the combination of settings and solutions for your specific needs have been identified, the process is the same: the laser works very efficiently without affecting the integrity of the surface you’re cleaning. This means that you’ll get a smooth finish without having to implement a secondary cleaning process.
BENEFITS OF LASER CLEANING
Laser cleaning solutions thoroughly remove hazardous paint without damaging the substrate underneath. This means your products will last longer than if you removed paint with an alternative method. Laser ablation also eliminates the process of masking. Instead of creating costly masking lines, the Adapt Laser cleaning solution precisely removes hazardous coatings and works well on two-dimensional shapes for secondary processes. It’s also been used to safely remove thick, lead-based paint on transportation vehicles — including for the Virginia Department of Transportation and the United States Navy — without the requirements of respirators or Tyvek suits.
Laser ablation has also been used to remove chrome-based paint on products for the United States Air Force (USAF). The USAF School of Aerospace Medicine even has proven our equipment requires no cleanup and very little safety wear — only protective eyewear and a designated laser safe area — and makes disposing of hazardous coatings a breeze. Along with the foundational benefits of laser cleaning, other added benefits include:
- Easy to operate
- Low operating costs
- Low maintenance
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 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.