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Backpack laser system cleans up

14 Dec 2005

European laser cleaning specialist has received its first orders for a ready-to-wear fiber laser system.

German firm Clean Laser System has launched what it claims is the first backpack mounted fiber laser system for restoration, conservation and other industrial treatments. Weighing just 9 kg, the pulsed, diode-pumped unit emits at 1064 nm with an average power of 20 W and is said to offer an environmentally safe cleaning method that uses no chemicals and produces no waste.

The laser works by directing a programmable scanning beam on to the work piece. "Any contaminants [such as paint, grease and rust] on the surface absorb the laser energy and are quickly vaporized, with any fumes or particulates removed by an in-built filter," explained Dave Adams of UK distributor CIProcess. "This gentle cleaning method avoids the erosion and abrasion that can occur with other cleaning techniques."

With low operating costs of around EURO 0.3 per hour, the air cooled, portable system suits time intensive applications such as monument and artefact cleaning.

"You just have to provide a clear working radius of 3 m thanks to the system's divergent beam," Edwin Buechter of Clean Laser System told Optics.org. "However, within this range the user must wear personal protection, in this case safety goggles that are provided with the laser."

Looking ahead, Buechter feels that there could be scope for a higher powered unit, which would allow faster surface treatment. "I see a chance to increase the average power to around 40-50 W, but that is the limit," he said. "If you increase the power to 50-60 W then you have to provide more energy and more cooling and it will no longer make any sense to put this on your back, because it is too heavy."

The basic backpack laser unit is priced at around EURO 45,000 ($53,700).

Author
James Tyrrell is reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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