The technical paper High Pulse Energy, kW Average Power Nanosecond Lasers Enable Breakthrough in Rapid Coating Removal paper attached demonstrates the use of kW class, high energy pulsed nanosecond lasers for surface cleaning applications. A hybrid ablation-detachment process allows removal rates of semi-transparent paint from primer at 40,000 mm3 /kW.min. The process shows a threshold at which a nonlinear increase in removal rate is observed for energies above 100mJ for most paints. The impact of pulsed laser de-painting on substrates is examined.
The overall market for cleaning and preparation of surfaces is massive, easily 10’s of billions of dollars worldwide and touches a wide range of industries ranging from transportation (automotive, aerospace and maritime), to energy (oil, gas, nuclear, solar, etc.) to industrial manufacturing and even the industrial food and beverage industry. Historically, much of this market is addressed by chemical and mechanical techniques such as solvent baths, media blasting (sand, ice, dry-ice, polystyrene, etc.) and water jet cleaning (i.e. pressure washing). There are some hybrid techniques, such as Xenon flash lamp assisted CO2 pellet blasting which use the power of light to clean surfaces, however the direct use of photon-only based cleaning has historically been limited to niche applications where the relatively higher cost of ownership and low throughput are tolerable. Recently, with the rise of kW class, nanosecond pulsed laser platforms designed for operation in harsh industrial environments, this limitation on niche markets only is being lifted and industrial nanosecond lasers are finding their way into an ever-growing range of cleaning and surface preparation applications. In this work we focus on the benefits of such lasers in the area of paint removal.