Laser cleaning vs. sandblasting

Why choose laser cleaning over sandblasting?

Recently, there has been a growing demand for new solutions to improve the quality of surface cleaning. We are not only talking about the end result but also about the process itself. Regardless of whether we are talking about industrial, commercial or historic object cleaning, there is currently a great deal of pressure to find new, effective technologies. Many solutions currently available on the market do not meet customers’ expectations.

The most popular method, i.e. sandblasting, among others due to its labour-intensive, invasive nature, and the problem of using it in industrial processes, is in many cases impossible to apply. Furthermore, current EU regulations to a large extent restrict the use of this technology.

An alternative to sandblasting is laser cleaning which is gaining increasing recognition and its use is rapidly expanding on a global scale. The replacement of sandblasting by laser cleaning is inevitable as the number of advantages of using a laser is enormous.

The laser pulse is strong enough to clean the old metal of rust and paint, and the removal of coatings takes place by evaporation without affecting the treated surface, thus preventing damage. Ablative laser cleaning not only allows us to remove old coatings but also enables the development of the surface, polishing and change of the adhesion. The material after laser cleaning from rust or paint will already be prepared for the application of new coatings.

Advantages of laser cleaning over sandblasting

There is a large number of companies on the market both in Poland and abroad that offer sandblasting as a solution for companies and individuals looking to remove paint and old coatings. Below, we will outline the advantages of our technology over more traditional methods, which will show why laser cleaning is better than sandblasting.

Safety

Advanced level of rusting usually compromises the structural integrity of the material. Once the process of rust formation starts, it never stops. Although it takes no more than a little water, oxygen and a metal surface to stimulate its formation, nothing has yet been invented that can stop the phenomenon. The problem is even more serious with sensitive materials that require periodic treatment to remove rust and its various residues. Nobody wants to subject them to a process that can deform or even perforate the surface. In this case, the alternative laser method for rust removal becomes particularly attractive. This option reliably removes traces of old coatings and paints but without the risk of damaging even the most sensitive surface. An additional advantage is the "cleanliness" of the process and the fact that the work area does not need to be protected from unwanted sand particles. As a result, we can enjoy all of the advantages of sandblasting without the risk of damage, while keeping the workplace clean.

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No unnecessary materials

The safe laser cleaning is guaranteed by the fact that no additional abrasive media will be applied to the cleaned surface.

In the case of sandblasting, the device’s high-pressure nozzle ejects small grains onto the surface, which abrade the coating or paint. These grains, of course, are also responsible for the damage mentioned before.

And how does it work with lasers? Cleaning with a laser does not require an abrasive. Depending on the selected parameters, we cover the surface with a series of light pulses of the appropriate power and energy for the material. The end result is a safer, more streamlined and highly repeatable process.

Ecology

Concern for the environment is a natural human inclination. In the case of cleaning, the generated waste is in a gaseous state and therefore it is very easy to extract and separate. Laser paint removal from the material surface does not contribute to any harm to our environment. Furthermore, we do not have to pay for the potential disposal of residual paint, old components or chemical waste. These are immeasurable benefits for all parties involved.

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The equipment produced by Flaser works thanks to a process called laser ablation. The laser is bright and focussed enough that anything that absorbs light will be heated and the coating vaporised. No additional materials are needed, other than the equipment itself. These are huge environmental benefits to consider. There is no need for any chemicals or additional agents for it to work properly. This means that there will be no more secondary waste to dispose of. Once the laser has done its job, the unit can simply be put away.

Precision, versatility and process repeatability

Sandblasting can be a precision technology, we won’t deny that. However, this traditional method can’t hold a candle to the potential of lasers. The operator can focus on very specific areas, ensuring that only the desirable parts of the metal are affected.

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The control of the Flaser equipment is real-time, which means, if necessary, it can be easily adjusted. Automating the process does not cause any difficulties either. With laser cleaning, we even have control over the ablation depth. We can precisely remove the problematic coating in multiple ways, in the exact areas that need it, without affecting the others that don’t.

Low maintenance costs, high efficiency

With high prices for electricity, water and compressed air, low running costs are crucial for anyone considering buying a device or using the services offered by Flaser. For this reason, it is very important that the laser does not require any external materials to function properly, therefore maintenance and operating costs are very low.

Where can the laser be used?

Laser rust cleaning is just one application. Due to its advantages, this technology is ideal for cleaning moulds, sandstones, bricks, all kinds of historical details, and removing paint. The laser selectively removes various types of coatings layer by layer. It can be used to develop, polish and process not only metal parts but also composites, paper and many other materials.

Depending on your needs, sandblasting can still be a viable alternative to laser cleaning. Therefore, to understand which method may be best for you, it is worth getting in touch with professionals. They will offer their expertise and give solid answers to all of your questions, so you can learn more about the technology and how to use it.