Cool Tech: High Power Lasers – Green Paint Stripping
By Mark Norfolk on Thursday, April 8th, 2010
EWI has a great collection of high power lasers that are being used for manufacturing items from small batteries to 48” gas transmission pipelines. This is the third in a series of blogs exploring these cool toys.
Today I want to talk about an exciting new technology being developed at EWI. With our current 15kW fiber laser we can cut through 12 inches of steel if we move slow enough. We can weld on thin material we can weld at speeds in excess of 2 meters per second. Our resident laser genius, Stan Ream, asked “What if we move the laser beam REALLY fast?” From this question EWI has gone into the paint stripping business. For many commercial and military applications paint must be removed for normal maintenance and repair cycles. Typically this involves the use of nasty caustic chemical that are unsafe to use and are difficult to dispose of. By using the laser, moving at very high speed, we can vaporize the paint off of the surface of a metal substrate without any effect to the base material. By using a large vacuum/filter combination the resulting fumes can be safely harnessed. This new technology will allow for very quick paint stripping without the use of ANY chemicals. Attached you can view a high speed video the paint stripper at work.