All metals corrode. It’s built within its chemical compound. When treated properly some metals take longer to corrode. But, the fact is that at some point, your metal will experience corrosion such as rust. When this happens, you look for ways to remove the corrosion — and there are many options out there. From sandblasting dangerous chemicals and other media blasting options to more environmentally-conscious choices like plasma and laser cleaning. But, how do you know which options are best for your product? Are some options more effective than others? Laser cleaning is typically considered the safest form of rust removal, but is it the right solution for you?
HOW DOES RUST OCCUR?
Rust — at the chemical level — is a combination of iron and oxygen. When you have a metal axle of a car, and it comes into contact with water, the process of oxidation occurs. This process causes the rust that begins to form on your metal product. Rust is only produced on materials made from metal. And, if you don’t remove the rust, your product will begin to degrade and break down — lowering the lifespan of your product and ultimately causing you to buy a new one.
WHAT SOLUTIONS REQUIRE RUST CLEANING OPTIONS?
Rust can be troublesome — especially for higher-value products. Such is the case with military applications like warships, armored vehicles, and aircraft — including fighter jets and helicopters. But, the defense and military isn’t the only industry impacted by rust. Other high-value products often requiring rust removal include:
- Vintage cars
- Other transportation vehicles
- Dump trucks
- Excavators and other heavy machinery
- Conveyor belts
- Rocket engines
CLEANING RUST WITH MEDIA BLASTING
Methods of media blasting have long been used to remove rust from products. The most common forms of media blasting include sandblasting and dry ice blasting. This type of method does exactly how it sounds — blasts away contaminants like rust using extreme pressure.
Because of its extreme pressure, media blasting is a very quick solution for large surface areas impacted by rust. While sandblasting is extremely effective on hard, thick contaminants, dry ice blasting is great for soft, thick layers — meaning there is a media blasting option regardless of your needs.
While there will always be uses for media blasting, there are many reasons to look for alternatives. Media blasting is dangerous for the product you’re cleaning, your operators, and the environment. Regardless of the method, your operators are required to wear full safety suits to prevent themselves from being hurt by debris or the elements used during the process — such is the case with protective wear from dry ice during dry ice blasting.
Media blasting is also expensive to operate. From buying dry ice and storing it in specialized locations or storage containers, to replacing equipment — as sandblasting destroys it over time — media blasting is quick to blow through your cleaning budget. And, that’s not to mention the costs of cleanup and removal of the materials afterward.
RUST REMOVAL WITH LASER CLEANING
While media blasting blasts away contaminants, laser ablation uses thousands of pulses per second to absorb and remove rust and other contaminants. It uses laser light to penetrate down the foundation of your metal and cleans it without affecting the substrate.
When compared to media blasting, laser cleaning is safer and more effective for targeted areas. And, when used properly, operators run little to no risk of injury. Laser cleaning produces no additional waste and requires no additional cleanup — leaving you with a rust-free metal and expanding your product’s lifespan. Plus, it cleans up to 15 times faster than abrasive hand cleaning, meaning you’ll potentially clean your products in less than half the time.
Although there are many reasons to switch to laser cleaning, it should be noted that lasers are not as effective at cleaning large surface areas as quickly as media blasting. And, no matter how you adjust the beam, you’ll be limited to the line of sight of the laser beam when you try to clean some crevices and hard-to-see areas — meaning that media blasting will still play some role in rust removal.
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.