10 Reasons to Laser Strip Metal When Refinishing It

Apr 30, 2019

No matter what restoration project you have in mind, cleaning the metal surface is always the first step. TLC Metal can laser strip metal surfaces while preserving all surface characteristics. It does not matter whether you want to make your building’s lighting fixtures look like new, you are restoring an antique car for a car show, or the benches in the office park you manage are starting to rust. You can only plan your next steps once you can see the condition of the original metal surface. TLC Metal can make that happen with our cutting-edge services that laser strip metal.

Laser Strip Metal Wheels

Laser stripping is a process that uses a focused beam of light to burn away impurities and residue on the surface of your metal parts. Different frequencies of light can cut through different materials. That means an automated laser stripping tool can be programmed to cut through non-metallic materials such as paint, grease, and iron oxide.

Infrared light is used in a ‘hot’ process that melts the material and can cut through metal, like in metal engraving tools. Lasers use ultraviolet light in a ‘cold’ process to vaporize layers of dirt and paint away. Laser stripping technicians are trained to use lasers with light at just the right frequency to vaporize buildup to strip, or clean, the surface without damaging the metal underneath. Laser stripping or cleaning is just the first step, so you have a clean slate.

Top 10 Reasons to Laser Strip Metal

1. Laser stripping gives precise control.

Chemical stripping agents are like using an unfocused light bulb. Sandblasters and sandbelts are like using a flashlight. But using a laser to strip away residue and previous layers of paint is precisely that. Our technicians have all the pinpoint accuracy of a laser.

If you have items made of composite materials or different parts that cannot be separated, a laser can target just the aluminum or steel portions. You do not have to worry about imprecise stripping damaging the surrounding materials.

2. Lasers strip away buildup layer by layer.

Laser stripping tools can target different areas of a metal piece with different frequencies of light. If you want a historical artifact or old heirloom stripped layer by layer, laser stripping can clean away different contaminants in precise sections.

Digital laser tools have programmable settings so they can target specific types of contamination. It can also collect and analyze data about what it is stripping from the item. Whether you need to know more about the mold growing over infrastructural metal pieces or you are performing a routine check for nuclear contamination, learn more with laser stripping.

3. Remove everything from grease to old paint.

Some chemical agents only remove certain types of residue. If some of the paint, corrosion, or mold is not reactive to the cleaner, traces of the contaminants will remain. Even industrial sandblasters are not guaranteed to reach every micrometer of the surface or scrape away every type of grunge. But lasers can burn away anything the light touches for complete de-coating.

4. TLC Metal Restoration is the only one in the area with a cleanLASER CL-1000.

The quality of the laser stripping equipment. Our cleanLASER CL-1000 has 1,000 watts of power and has a strong beam with customizable programs, so your objects are cleaned according to your precise specifications. The tool is mobile and entirely green. If your metal parts cannot be moved or your company has a strong green advocacy policy, you want a laser stripping service that can handle the job. TLC Metal Restoration is the only company on the island or in the Northeast to have this cleanLASER.

5. Get rid of any residue that can stop paint or powder coating from sealing.

Powder coating offers premium protection to metal parts. It sticks to the surface with a tighter bonding process than paint or other wet application finishes. The powder can also be specially mixed to offer resistance to physical abrasion, water, or even UV radiation. But powder coatings only work if the powder can bind tightly to the surface of the object. If there is a film of grease or dirt clinging to the screws and bolts, the powder coated finish will not be as strong.

Laser stripping removes residue that can stop the powder from sticking and doing its job. Removing growing contaminants like mold and rust also prevents increased damage from growing under the surface.

6. Paint removal becomes efficient.

If this is your first time getting painted metal items powder coated, you might not have known that the process should start with a thorough laser stripping or laser surface cleaning. That can be frustrating, especially if you are up against a deadline and do not have time for extra appointments.

If you need something powder coated against the elements, that paint has to be removed before the powder coating will stick firmly in place. Otherwise, the powder will adhere to the paint and not the part; peeling paint and impact damage can still rip both protective layers away.

But laser stripping will not cause delays. Even the most complicated rims or metal parts can have the paint removed in a matter of minutes.

7. Remove every trace of corrosion before it can spread further.

Once a metal item has rust, it can be hard to remove every last trace. Rust likes to hide in corners and out-of-sight crevices where moisture can bead up. It lingers in the folded metal edges where abrasive cleaners cannot reach, and you cannot see it. If the smallest trace of corrosion is left after you clean a metal part, it will come back even faster than before.

Laser stripping can cut through and burn away all of the rust. The laser strips it away layer by layer, and expert laser stripping technicians know how to inspect the piece for any remaining traces. Even better, you do not have to sacrifice part of the metal object to get rid of the corrosion. The laser can be set to target the corrosion and only the corrosion, no matter how much metal has been eaten away.

8. Do not lose any of the original material.

Laser stripping and restoration is not just for expensive industrial components. It is also for heirloom metal pieces and antique cars. When it comes to those last two types of restoration, it is important to keep as much of the original material and maintain the object’s integrity. Filler, replacement metal, and even poorly matched finishes can ruin the item’s value.

That is why laser stripping and laser surfacing is the best treatment for them. The laser can be set at different frequencies to search out different types of residue. It can also be set, so the light is completely unreactive to the original surface material. No matter how grimy, corroded, or covered in paint the object is, professional laser cleaning will not damage it.

The process is so gentle that laser stripping is even used to restore 3,000-year-old wall paintings in Egypt.

9. Sharp angles and deep engravings get just as clean as flat surfaces.

If you are getting your parts stripped through abrasive or chemical means, crevices that are difficult to reach will not be as thoroughly stripped as the rest of the piece. Sandblasters and sand belts cannot reach everywhere, and focusing their abrasive force on one section for too long can damage the material. This is just as true for chemical stripping agents. Many reagents can only be applied so often or for so long without putting the original surface at risk.

But lasers can be set to react to certain types of residue. Set properly, they cannot damage the underlying metal. That means the laser can be applied over and over again from different angles, so every last speck of residue is taken care of.

10. Get your parts laser stripped and powder coated in one place.

You do not have to see multiple specialty services to transform your dirty or poorly painted metal parts into professionally powder coated parts that can last for years. TLC Metal Restoration can handle every step of the refinishing process. You can get everything from equipment to shelving to antique automotive parts laser stripped clean. Then the objects can be polished and deburred before moving straight to the powder coating process. Hiring a professional service that can handle refinishing from beginning to end does not just save you time and money. It means you have more control over the finished product.

What can you do with parts after a laser treatment?

Once metal parts and objects have been laser stripped, you can add whatever protective finish best fits your restoration project. If you are restoring an antique car, get the rims’ surfaces cleaned with a laser so you can make the surfaces gleam with a professional polishing job. If you are working with industrial metal parts or infrastructural tools, get the surface laser stripped so you can add a protective layer of powder coating that will last for years.

If you have aluminum and steel parts that need laser stripped, contact TLC Metal.