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Laser cleaning with the laser

Laser cleaning

A clean, even surface – this is the basic requirement for successful and durable welding and adhesive connections. That being said, components often become contaminated, oxidize, or are covered in protection layers prior to the joining process. The laser provides a remedy for this: the non-contact tool frees components of dirt and oxidation/functional layers within seconds. And it does this only in areas where joining is meant to take place, for example, or where the functional layer is no longer needed. Here's how it works: pulses with high peak pulse power evaporate the wafer-thin layers, without affecting the component. Subsequent processes such as joining can then be carried out faster, more homogenously, and are entirely reproducible. The connections are clean and last longer. Joining preparation work using light as a tool can also integrate seamlessly into industrial series production, due to the fact that data can easily be transferred via interfaces.

The benefits of laser cleaning

Extremely gentle on the material

While alternative methods to laser cleaning – such as sandblasting – can damage the surface of the component, the laser works in a non-contact, residue-free manner.

Precise and reproducible

The laser allows for controlled ablation of functional layers with micrometer precision – a process that is easily reproducible.

Affordable and clean

Cleaning with the laser does not require additional abrasives or cleaning agents which would otherwise entail complex and expensive disposal. The ablated layers are removed directly.

High processing speeds

Compared to alternative cleaning methods, the laser impresses with a high throughput and fast cycle times.


This is how cleaning with the laser works

Application drawing - laser cleaning

Marking lasers as well as short or ultrashort pulse lasers are used for surface cleaning with lasers.
The operating principle is always the same:

  • Pulse by pulse, the focused laser beam removes impurities such as oxidation or functional layers which hinder the joining process.
  • The laser evaporates the undesirable layers using very high peak pulse power, in a very gentle, non-contact manner.
  • Compared to CO2 lasers which still leave a thin layer (e.g. 5 µm of paint) behind during cleaning, solid-state lasers are able to process surfaces in an even more targeted manner. The laser pulses have virtually no thermal effect on the workpiece surface; this prevents distortion or damage/changes to the material.
  • The ablated material can be easily and directly removed by means of an optional exhaust system that is integrated into the respective system.
  • Specific laser parameter settings also allow the laser to be used to structure component surfaces in order to provide better grip for adhesive areas and frictional and form-locking connections, as well as to apply component markings (e.g. tracking codes).

Optimal preparation of bonding surfaces thanks to laser cleaning and laser structuring

Laser cleaning and laser paint removal

Typical application scenarios for laser cleaning

Laser cutting for CFRP components
CFRP components

In the case of fiber-reinforced materials such as CFRP, joining preparation work must not damage the delicate carbon fibers. Precise pulse settings allow the short-pulse laser from the TruMicro series to activate the surface precisely in the required area, and clean it in one go.

Cleaning flange tripods with the laser

In preparation for welding, the marking laser is used to free flange tripods of layers of rust, oil, or phosphate. Compared to alternative methods, the laser impresses with fast throughput as well as a non-contact, wear-free method of cleaning.

Laser cleaning for shapes

Compared to dry ice, chemicals, or brushes, the laser cleans shapes such as industrial waffle irons more precisely and in a more environmentally friendly manner, while making processes more reliable and energy-efficient.

Surface processing with the one-box lasers
Joining preparation work for bevel gears

For the purposes of improved welding processes and less spatter and fewer pores, lasers remove the phosphate layer from bevel gears in a targeted manner. The cycle times here are very short – the short-pulse laser cleans one bevel gear in less than 10 seconds, for example. This makes the welding process more homogenous, faster, and entirely repeatable.

Laser cleaning with the laser
Laser cleaning a tire mold

The high-performance short-pulse lasers from the TruMicro Series 7000 are based on disk laser technology and combine short pulses with high pulse energies, even with high frequencies. This allows you to remove layers and contamination with utmost speed, and reduce your cycle times. You can additionally optimize your processes by varying the rate of repetition – while maintaining an even pulse duration.

These lasers are suitable for laser cleaning

Alle TRUMPF TruMark Beschriftungslaser auf eine Blick
TruMark series

Marking lasers from the TruMark series work efficiently as cleaners and structuring tools. Various wavelengths and a high peak pulse power mean that they can be used with flexibility for a wide range of materials. A marking laser used for joining preparation can additionally apply a Data Matrix Code or a serial number to the component. In this way, cleaning and traceability are ensured in one step when using a marking laser.

TruMicro series

In terms of beam guidance and repetition rate, the short and ultrashort pulse lasers from the TruMicro series are ideal for large-scale ablation of wafer-thin layers. The operating principle of the high-power short-pulse laser allows for a constant pulse duration over the entire repetition rate range. This means that the pulse energy and pulse repetition frequency of the laser being used can be adjusted to the optimized beam shape. Laser stations enable lasers from the TruMicro series to be connected upstream of existing processing lines with ease. They can easily be connected to multiple optics via an optical laser cable. In doing so, only one beam source needs to be installed. If a company uses additional beam sources alongside the TruMicro lasers, they can be controlled in a standardized manner using the TRUMPF TruControl control software.

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