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Laser Cleaning: How Laser Cleaning Removes Paint?

Apr 28,2023 | TOPTEK

The cleaning process of laser cleaning equipment depends on the light pulse generated by the laser, based on the photophysical reaction caused by the interaction between the high-intensity beam, short-pulse laser and the pollution layer.

Laser cleaning equipment is used in automobile manufacturing, semiconductor wafer cleaning, precision parts processing and manufacturing, building exterior wall cleaning, cultural relic protection, circuit board cleaning, precision parts processing and manufacturing, liquid crystal display cleaning, glue removal, oil stain removal, paint removal, etc.

How does laser cleaning equipment remove paint? To understand how laser cleaning removes paint, you must first understand the cleaning mechanism of laser cleaning equipment.

The paint applied to the metal surface acts as a special layer of plasma that protects the metal from corrosion and oxidation. On the other hand, a plasma is generated only when the energy density is above a threshold, depending on the removal of contaminants or oxide layers. This threshold effect is important for effective cleaning while keeping the substrate safe. There is a second threshold for the emergence of plasmas. If the energy density exceeds this threshold, the substrate material will be destroyed. In order to carry out effective cleaning under the premise of ensuring the safety of the substrate material, the laser parameters must be adjusted according to the situation so that the energy density of the light pulse is strictly between the two thresholds.

Each laser pulse removes a certain thickness of the contamination layer. If the contamination layer is thick, multiple pulses are required to clean. The number of pulses required to clean a surface depends on how soiled the surface is. An important consequence of these two thresholds is clean self-control. Light pulses with a fluence above the first threshold will reject contaminants until they reach the substrate material. However, since its energy density is lower than the damage threshold of the substrate material, the substrate will not be damaged.

Based on the above, when using laser cleaning equipment to clean the paint on the metal surface, the threshold must be well controlled. When the threshold is suitable, laser cleaning can be performed. When the threshold cannot be set, it means that the laser cleaning equipment cannot meet the cleaning requirements. This is one of the reasons why laser cleaning equipment is not a panacea. However, with the deepening of laser research and development, the functions of laser cleaning equipment will become more and more powerful, and it is possible to reach the point where everything can be washed.

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