Laser Cleaning: The Highly Demanded Solution in Shipbuilding Industry

Drawbacks of Traditional Sandblasting Cleaning

In ship manufacturing and repair, cleaning, as a necessary process, is mainly used in the two stages of steel plate pre-treatment and segmented pre-treatment for newly built ships, as well as rust removal and paint removal during ship repair. At present, sandblasting method is mainly used for ship pre-production cleaning.

Although the current sandblasting process is relatively mature and efficient, there are still technical defects, such as exceeding the roughness in pre-treatment, and sandblasting cannot be used on high-end ships such as luxury cruise ships. Moreover, sandblasting methods can cause serious dust pollution to the surrounding environment, leading to reduced or even discontinued production by shipbuilding enterprises.

Taking the repair of a certain company’s ship as an example, the cleaning of the ship is carried out in the open air of the dock, requiring workers to operate sandblasting guns. Usually, repairing a ship requires 120 people holding 120 sandblasting guns simultaneously, and the efficiency of each gun is approximately 8-10 square meters/hour. During sandblasting, dust is everywhere and pollution is extremely severe. The operation process takes a long time, and workers are also very prone to danger due to their proximity to the polishing area.

The Sandblasting Process Will Be Replaced by Laser Cleaning

Laser cleaning technology will provide a green and pollution-free cleaning solution for ship surface anti-corrosion spraying. Compared to traditional cleaning methods such as sandblasting, chemical cleaning, and mechanical polishing, laser cleaning has many advantages such as no damage to the substrate, precise control at the micron level, energy conservation, and environmental protection. It will eliminate some traditional cleaning methods in the industrial field. Whether in terms of environmental protection, technological updates, and future practical operations, sandblasting technology will eventually be replaced by advanced technology. Laser cleaning technology is currently considered the most reliable and effective solution.

During the research process, it was found that various shipyards have shown great interest in laser cleaning equipment, believing that it is a matter that benefits the country, the people, and the shipyard. Many shipyards have even voluntarily expressed their willingness to jointly develop the application of laser cleaning on ships, providing free scenarios, personnel, and related technical support. They also stated that “if the new technology is successfully developed, they will purchase it first and promote it throughout the entire shipbuilding industry”.

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