SONOMATIC are excited to bring this game-changing patented laser technology (ablation) to clients in all industries. How it works - the process clears away undesired material from a solid surface by irradiating it with a laser beam. By absorbing the energy of the laser beam, the molecules of the targeted material are excited very quickly, making it break apart and ablate or vaporise off the surface. As the surface below does not absorb any energy, it remains unaltered.
By manipulating the laser fluence, its wavelength and its pulse length, the amount of material that is being removed by a single laser pulse can be controlled with extreme precision, making laser cleaning equally suitable for rapid and deep rust removal as it is for removing only one thin layer of paint, without damaging the base coat.
The laser system does not emit any harmful elements to the environment. Unlike abrasive blasting which emits debris, noise and potential threats to personnel and equipment near-by, the laser is fitted with its own extraction system immediately removing any light dust that may be produced.
It causes no damage or contamination to sensitive equipment, for example, precise seals, moving parts etc that are in the area. Our laser technology is specifically designed by Conservators and Engineers in the USA to safely clean a variety of surfaces without damaging the substrate and without damaging the planet.
Mature assets typically may have lead based paints which using current technologies, run the risk of being disturbed and subsequently enter the atmosphere. To prevent that and to protect the work-force, sheeting must be installed and the area deemed as a lead working area, effectively closing it down to any other work (SIMOPS), in the area.
While still following the exact same safety protocols of working with lead, the extraction system removes the dust/fumes and scrub through special filtration systems scoped for the particular job. The fume extraction system is designed to capture and collect the ablated/vaporised material via a series of appropriate filters, ensuring people and equipment are not exposed to any danger from contaminates.
Unlike other laser systems in the market, our unique patented design means the laser does not create heat-spots as it works. In addition, the advanced laser cleaning process does not result in wall thickness loss which is a major concern or consequence of traditional abrasive cleaning techniques as they can significantly affect the quality and reliability of an Inspection.
Traditional method of surface preparation
- Average team of 10-12 operators.
- Scaffolding tent structure required for blast materials. (Erection and hire costs)
- Scaffolders - Blasters - Cleaners - Forklift driver.
- Forklift to transport shot
- Continual cleaning
- Final clean to remove the spent shot
- Skips hire to store removed spent shot
- Costs of disposing this waste.
- All sensitive equipment has to be sheeted in to protect it from the shot dust.
- Blasting on a tank/vessel produces mass noise pollution, stopping all other work .
SONOMATIC Laser/NDT Team
- Team of 2 technicians
- Removes all the above constraints!!
The laser does not require double skinned habitats to be built, it does not require a cleaning team behind it like the grinder, it can be used from ropes and we can attach it to crawlers.
Ferrous materials are known to easily flash rust after abrasive blasting - however they resist rusting after laser cleaning, providing a bigger window of opportunity for a new coating application.
Abrasive blasting typically increases the surface area of a metal surface, thus increasing its corrosion potential - laser cleaning does not. Laser cleaning can also be tuned to create a protective passivated skin of magnetite on the surface. Laser cleaning is also very effective at removing salt from crevices which pressurised media can have a hard time reaching due to blow back and back pressure.
Grinders and blasters are notorious for the residue and debris they leave behind causing a risk of damage to nearby machinery and equipment. Reliability impact of dust, debris contacting moving equipment shafts of pumps, compressors, blower or fans (rotating equipment) or shafts of actuated valves. Traditional wide scale blasting will see a reliability hit for months and years following blasting activities. Grinders when used incorrectly, can and do cause severe injuries. In fact, data shows over 5400 injuries per year are caused by the incorrect operation of grinders, including injuries from kick-back from the grinder, entanglement, contact with the grinding wheel, injuries from projectiles and in some cases causing fires.
The laser system does not create any of these risks.
What is the efficiency of the technique with respect to conventional blasting/grinding (m2/h)?
If we compare it to the traditional blasting method, at first glance the blasting method does seem to be the fastest. However, this can be a false positive because it is also the highest risk method to use, if it goes wrong, then it has the potential to quadruple in costs and harm. If for example it damages other machinery in close proximity then you have several areas out of production, if it is incorrectly operated or malfunctions it can cause enormous injuries, the cleaning up alone after the shot-blasting is another cumbersome and costly part of the traditional method. And even then, it is impossible to clean all of the shot debris caused by the machine. You are then left with the problem of disposing the bags and bags of collected excess shot debris. The grinding method requires many layers of costly preparation including sheeting, fire blankets (which still allow a risk of sparks to escape). Together, whether it is grinding or blasting, both are forms of mechanical force which can add to the original existing damage! And both carry the risk of also adding in debris to the area which can cause problems in the future. The laser cleans as it goes, it has a kill switch meaning the power will immediately stop if pressure is taking off the switch, people can work side by side with us..and the laser cleans the matter to the standard, without causing any damage at all. We believe (although we are still testing this), that from the moment an order is given to SONOMATIC Total services Team for the provision of access, removal of insulation/lagging, completing the surface prep process, performing the NDT Inspection, relagging of areas and returning it complete to the operators (so all done by one company), that the time we require would be at least HALF the time required by the traditional method. You would require only one order, you would have one point of contact and within our total circle, we take responsibility for everything that is included in a Re-Inspection. Our lasers also come in different powers so the efficiency can be made even better depending on the scope.