Cleaning materials with lasers

I have seen videos where people clean metals, brake pads, tools and other materials with a laser, most look like they are using lasers that can take a wide path instead of a direct spot, but I am wondering if something like this would be possible with the Glowforge. I am guessing some items you would want to be careful with that may have toxic or equipment damaging fumes. Has anyone tried this?


Very cool!

I’ve seen these before. Pretty cool, eh? Unfortunately, the GF won’t do this - at least, not remotely to the same calibre, speed, or quality that this laser does. It’s (the one in this vid) a disk laser with an average power of something like 750 watts and a…much, much higher pricetag.

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Lots of brake pads, clutch discs, gaskets etc still use asbestos. I sure wouldn’t feel good about putting a laser to those kinds of objects.

We talked about this internally a bit - definitely something fun to experiment with, but the range of things that could be effectively and nondestructively cleaned is probably small.


A penny test

I’m pretty sure that the laser used in the video is a fiber laser, not a CO2 laser.
They’re more suited to lazing metal (and can do it crazy fast, to boot!)


I think it’s a disk laser, actually, but the point stands.

So two ideas for laser cleaning. Would it remove a spot of rust from cast iron? Like say a lid that was accidentally left where it could catch some spray and rusted and the owner’s been to lazy to take steel wool to it. I’m guessing no.

What about burned on food residue from a cheap pie tin you used the other night to reheat half a game hen? Sure, that’s a specific use case but it could be generalized to any metal pan with stuck on organic material. This I’m thinking could be a yes.

Muriatic acid (dilute hydrochloric) used to clean masonry from the hardware store will remove that oxide, just do it outside! The lid will look different than the pan until it is ‘seasoned’ again… or you could do the pan too and have a new finish on both.

That would be a yes. :slight_smile:


You could probably remove the rust much more easily by doing it electrolytically. I don’t think I’d want to do that in my consumer laser.

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