A video of a handheld laser rust remover has gone viral in the welding and machining world. The video demonstrates how the CL-1000, a 1000-Watt device developed by Germany-based CleanLaser, totally removes rust. The handheld rust remover eliminates hours of manual labor, scrubbing machines, and apparently, residue in the machine shop when restoring rusted parts. Its ability to reduce waste also benefits the environment.
Looking through forums discussing the new device, its simplicity—and the operator’s apparent lack of safety gear other than goggles—raises questions from enthusiasts and skeptics alike, from “How can I buy one?” to “How do I know it really works?”
The company explains that the device aims short, 1000-W laser pulses at the rusted piece, producing micro-plasma bursts, along with thermal pressure and shockwaves to sublimate the rust and separate it from the metal without damaging the piece. Material removal is halted when the laser is applied to a clean surface because it only sublimates rust. (Sublimation is the transition from a solid to a gas.)
Costs for low-power units start at $50,000. Power supplies can be worn as a backpack for mobile devices, and roll-out generators are available for stationary models. The low-power, 12-W devices treat small areas, and medium- and high-power devices up to 1000 W tackle intensive projects. Customized designs are available for specialized process controls and other cleaning applications. CleanLaser also offers robot-guided and gantry systems.