Laser cleaning by EMAG LaserTec: effective cleaning processes in a very small space
Many workpieces need to be “clean” for the next production process to start. The choice of cleaning method plays a crucial role here. It must be configured in such a way that just the right amount of energy and time is used to satisfactorily remove whatever soiling (or coating) is present – the motto is “no more than necessary.” This is where EMAG LaserTec laser cleaning excels. The parameters of this process can be flexibly configured and perfectly adapted to the degree of soiling as well as the desired result. In addition, only defined areas and geometries are cleaned or de-coated. This makes for very efficient processes.
Laser cleaning uses a focused laser beam that is moved over the area to be cleaned by a scanner and machine axes. All the particles present – whether oils, oxides, paints, or technical coatings – can be removed in this manner, and the reaction products are then extracted by suction. Parameters like the output and pulse frequency of the laser, its feed motion and track width as well as the machining time are precisely adapted to the degree of soiling and the desired level of cleanliness. As a result, the machine only processes defined areas like welds, glue joints, contact pads, and much more. The rest of the component remains untouched, which keeps running costs very low. In contrast, washing processes permanently consume energy to keep the washing solution at a specified temperature. They also require additional drying and flushing processes that slow down the entire production process and are also susceptible to faults. Laser cleaning has none of these problems.
Complete solution in a very small space
The specialists at EMAG LaserTec have built perfect mechanical engineering solutions for this effective process for some time now. The core of the solutions is the LC 4 laser cleaning machine for components with a diameter not exceeding 200 millimeters. It includes all the components needed for the process, in a space of just 4.5 square meters. Efficient operations are ensured by a highly efficient 200 W laser that is only switched on for a few seconds for each component. The very short pulse duration ensures an equally short interaction time, which keeps surface damage to a minimum. The short pulse duration also enables high pulse peak power if needed. In turn, this property can be used to achieve certain surface properties on the component, such as improved adhesiveness.
The machine can be used in end-to-end production lines as well as alone. To this end, it features a turntable that is separate from the work area. It is loaded and unloaded by an automation system (or just manually) without interrupting operation. Optionally, two components can be clamped simultaneously, while two others run through the cleaning process. This results in decreasing throughput times and no interruptions in the material flow. The modularity of EMAG mechanical engineering – creating customer-specific system solutions with building blocks -- is the key to its success. This means that the high-quality components used are well proven. This goes for the LC 4, too.
EMAG software simplifies the process
The EC Clean software from EMAG plays an important role in the success of the cleaning process. With the help of this control software, laser cleaning is an easily managed process. The system operator can make all relevant settings like laser and scanner parameters, geometry, and feed rate with this solution. EC Clean also aids with selecting settings. In concrete terms, this means the system operator can concentrate on a parts geometry, track width, and cleaning energy instead of becoming bogged down in complicated calculations. Everything else is automatically calculated or taken from the internal technology database.
WHY LASER CLEANING IS FREQUENTLY MORE EFFECTIVE THAN WASHING
There is no “one” best method for cleaning or de-coating workpieces. After all, the choice of method comes down to basic conditions and objectives in the production process. In this sense, laser cleaning is not a one-to-one substitute for traditional washing either but does frequently have an advantage.