Laser cleaning with continuous-wave vs. pulsed fiber lasers

Laser cleaning uses a focused laser beam to rapidly vaporize or strip the contaminants on a material’s surface. Compared with other traditional physical or chemical cleaning methods, laser cleaning is non-contact, with no consumables or pollution, high precision, and small residual damage. This process is an ideal choice for the new generation of industrial cleaning technology. Furthermore, fiber lasers with high reliability, stability, and flexibility have become the best choice as a laser cleaning beam source. Two types of fiber lasers, continuous-wave (CW) fiber lasers and pulsed fiber lasers, occupy the market for macromaterial processing and precise material processing. For emerging laser cleaning applications, there are questions about whether the CW fiber laser or pulsed fiber laser should be used. Here, we compare the laser cleaning applications of CW fiber lasers and pulsed fiber lasers, and analyze their respective characteristics and applicable application scenarios. This article provides useful reference when choosing the corresponding laser cleaning technology.

Compare the cleaning sample between the Fiber laser CW and Pulse

We use two models of lasers to clean different kinds of materials: one is aluminum alloy with white paint (around 20 µm) and another is carbon steel with white paint (around 40 µm). The cleaning performance is achieved by adjusting the pulse width (100 ns, 200 ns, and 500 ns), frequency (20–60 kHz), and scanning speed (1500–9600 mm/s).

 

FIGURE 1. Cleaning performance of aluminum alloy with white paint

Test laser model: CW fiber laser

Insufficient clean/  Best Performance/    Overcleaning

 

FIGURE 2. Cleaning performance of aluminum alloy with white paint

Test laser model: Mopa Pulse fiber laser

Insufficient clean/  Best Performance/    Overcleaning

 

 

FIGURE 3. Cleaning performance of carbon steel with white paint.

Test laser model: CW fiber laser

Insufficient clean/  Best Performance/    Overcleaning

 

 

FIGURE 4. Cleaning performance of carbon steel with white paint.

Test laser model: Mopa Pulse fiber laser

Insufficient clean/  Best Performance/    Overcleaning

 

For pulsed fiber lasers, a laser with lower frequency is more likely to hurt the substrate during the cleaning process, and a laser with a narrow pulse width (around 100 ns) could clean the paint more easily. It’s essential to balance the heat between cleaning the paint and melting the substrate (heat effect). A pulsed fiber laser with a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) structure offers the advantage of precise heat control, which is a critical point during the cleaning process.

With a CW fiber laser, the slower the scanning speed is, the greater the damage to the substrate. However, when the speed is higher than the threshold, a faster speed will cause insufficient cleaning. Thus when using the CW fiber laser to perform laser cleaning, it’s critical to choose the right scanning speed.

The following details show the difference between CW fiber lasers and pulsed fiber lasers from three main aspects: cleaning performance, cleaning efficiency, and roughness after the cleaning process.

FIGURE 5. Cleaning performance comparison on aluminum by CW (left) and MOPA pulsed fiber laser (right).

Intuitively, the materials are darker after cleaning by a CW fiber laser when compared with a MOPA pulsed fiber laser. Improper heating will result in the substrate metal melting during the cleaning process, which is not acceptable especially in the module cleaning industry.

 

FIGURE 6. Cleaning performance comparison on carbon steel by CW (left) and MOPA pulsed fiber laser (right).

 

 

FIGURE 7. Microscopic surface after cleaning on carbon steel by CW (left) and MOPA pulsed fiber laser (right).

 

 

 

FIGURE 8. Comparison for the roughness of the surface after CW and MOPA pulsed fiber laser cleaning.

FIGURE 8 shows the roughness (Ra) for the surface from CW and MOPA pulsed fiber lasers. The damage brought by MOPA fiber laser cleaning is very small, and the roughness value is close or even lower than the original surface (the laser cleaned some dust on the original surface, too). While cleaned by CW lasers, the roughness value will be 1.5X more than the original surface.

Advantages of the MOPA fiber laser

Another advantage brought by the MOPA fiber laser is high cleaning efficiency. When cleaning the dust on the aluminum alloy, the cleaning efficiency of the MOPA pulsed fiber laser is 2.77 m2/h, which is 7.7X the cleaning efficiency by a CW fiber laser (0.36 m2/h). When cleaning the dust on the carbon steel, the cleaning efficiency of the MOPA pulsed fiber laser is 1.06 m2/h, which is 3.5X the cleaning efficiency of the CW fiber laser (0.3 m2/h).

Which kind of laser is appropriate to cleaning?

In conclusion, dust could be removed by both the MOPA pulsed fiber laser and CW fiber laser. Using the same average output power, the cleaning efficiency of the MOPA pulsed fiber laser is quicker than the efficiency of the CW fiber laser. In the meantime, precise heat control between cleaning and melting produces good cleaning performance, without damaging the substrate.

However, the cost of a CW fiber laser is lower, which compensates for the disadvantage of the cleaning efficiency by increasing the average output power. However, it will cause a heat effect, which will hurt the substrate.

CONTACT INFORMATION

If you have any quesion,
please fill in the form in the right
& send it to us.

We will respond within 24 hours.





    Call Now Button