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Can laser cleaning replace dry ice cleaning?

Dry ice cleaning has a very wide range of applications in my country’s industrial manufacturing. It is often used in the cleaning of oily paint and carbon deposition adhesives for industrial devices such as mold printing, automotive electronics, and petrochemical industries. It also has outstanding applications in rust removal and paint removal. It is an important part of my country’s industrial cleaning composition. Laser cleaning is the most cutting-edge new industrial cleaning method developed in 17 years. In the past two years, it has also been rapidly applied to paint and rust removal and oil pollution and carbon deposition cleaning in industries such as molds and automobiles.

As two cleaning methods with highly overlapping application fields, they naturally face the competition of market share and the comparison of product maturity. In the following, we will deeply compare the advantages and disadvantages and development prospects of the two cleaning methods.

1. Dry ice cleaning

The advantages of dry ice cleaning are mainly compared with traditional chemical cleaning agents. Most of its advantages are well known to us:

  1.  The cleaning process does not use chemicals and does not pollute the environment.
  2. Compared with cleaning agents, the cleaning effect of dry ice cold spray is more thorough and cleaner. And will not cause damage to the material.
  3. There is no need to shut down the equipment, no need to disassemble and assemble the equipment, and it can be cleaned online, which can reduce the downtime compared with chemical cleaning agents.
  4. The operation is easy to use, and the process is simple, which can realize automatic operation and reduce labor costs.

But at the same time, the disadvantages of dry ice blasting are also obvious:

  • It is not so much “also” that it can be cleaned online in a hot state when the equipment is not shut down, it is better to say that the cleaning effect is not good after the equipment is cooled.

Dry ice cold spraying is a treatment process that uses relative temperature difference to embrittle and peel off dirty materials. When the surface temperature of the equipment is low, its cleaning effect will be relatively reduced. For example, in addition to carbon deposits in the combustion chamber of a car engine, when the temperature of the vehicle engine is low, it is not only difficult to clean, but also special attention should be paid to the easy generation of condensed water into the engine.

  • Strict operating environment requirements. The dangers of dry ice blasting require the wearing of necessary safety protection devices.

Because dry ice blasting typically produces noise levels in excess of 120 dB(A), close to the sound of an aircraft engine operating, workers must wear hearing protection. The dry ice temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius requires the wearing of gloves to prevent frostbite from dry ice particles, and helmets, face shields and safety goggles to prevent the eyes from being damaged by splashing particles.

At the same time, there is a suffocation hazard when used in a relatively closed environment. When the volume fraction of carbon dioxide in the air is 1%, people will feel dizzy and palpitations; 4%-5% feel dizzy. When more than 6%, people will become unconscious, gradually stop breathing and cause death. Therefore, the staff involved in blast cleaning must wear CO2 detectors, and decide whether light or even heavy respirators are required according to the amount of dust or CO2 concentration produced.

  • Cleaning costs are high. Dry ice cleaning machines usually need to be equipped with a dry ice storage tank, dry ice maker, air compressor and air storage tank.

Taking the cleaning of engine carbon deposits as an example, the normal cleaning of a car’s carbon deposits generally requires an air compressor of 7 kg and a gas storage tank with a capacity of 3.5L. Moreover, the unit cost of dry ice as a consumable is very high. As an ordinary consumer, the price of removing carbon deposits in a 4S store is about 400-700; as a corporate user, the tire factories ranked in the 20-30th in China adopt the dry ice cleaning process. The annual cost of consumables is close to 800,000-1.2 million, and the operating cost is very high.

At the same time, experience has shown that when some ice is placed for several days, its density will decrease, thus reducing the cleaning effect. Therefore, more dry ice is required to clean a given area. Using freshly made dry ice can make cleaning faster and more efficient. That’s why dry ice blast cleaning is done with the freshest dry ice possible. In addition, dry ice will continue to sublime, which means that the original 100kg of dry ice particles will only have about 92kg left after one day. Therefore, dry ice usually requires a strict low temperature environment for storage.

2. Laser cleaning

As an emerging industrial cleaning method, laser cleaning is better than dry ice cleaning in the advantages of dry ice cleaning, and makes up for the shortcomings of dry ice cleaning, and has a wider range of applications. It can be said that it is an upgraded and enhanced version of dry ice cleaning, the best alternative version.

Laser cleaning uses light ablation to allow contaminants to be heated by laser energy and instantly evaporate or sublime to vaporize. As a new technology to replace traditional cleaning, laser has incomparable advantages over traditional methods: no need to use any chemicals and cleaning solutions; no photochemical reaction, no noise and no environmental pollution; no mechanical stress, zero loss of precision instruments; It does not damage the health of operators, and it is easy to realize automatic control and remote remote cleaning.

In addition to the above advantages, the most unacceptable element of laser cleaning currently lies in the price: excluding small workshops without independent scientific research capabilities and difficult to guarantee quality, the minimum power laser of several well-known domestic laser cleaning R&D manufacturers The starting price of cleaning machines is also more than 50,000 yuan, high-power cleaning equipment is often hundreds of thousands, and the market price of the most advanced equipment is millions. As an iterative new product, on the one hand, the market has in-depth business contacts and long-term use inertia for the old cleaning method, while the familiarity and trust of laser cleaning machines are still in the process of building; In the sophisticated industry, there are only three or four powerful laser cleaning manufacturers, which cannot provide such a huge coverage network as the dry ice cleaning industry. In this case, the high initial investment cost is undoubtedly prohibitive.


But in fact, if we calculate the cleaning cost according to the financial cost and convert it into the annual depreciation cost, we will find that the total cost of laser cleaning is basically the purchase cost, and the subsequent use consumption is only the power supply, which can be ignored; while the dry ice cleaning The cost of consumables accounts for a large proportion of the cost. It can be said that as the years of use increase, the more substrates need to be cleaned and the more frequent cleaning, the more expensive it is to use dry ice to clean, and the more cost-effective laser cleaning is. Shenzhen Waterdrop Laser specializes in laser cleaning, and is the leading enterprise in the domestic laser cleaning field. It has accumulated a lot of experience in tire mold cleaning.

With the rapid development of the laser cleaning industry, it is believed that in the next few years, it will be familiar and accepted by the market and become the most efficient cleaning method to replace traditional cleaning and dry ice cleaning!

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