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06-08-2019 | Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics | News | Article

Clean Lungs Thanks to Laser Process Exhaustion

Nadine Winkelmann

The laser remote process can machine components at extremely high speeds. However, this results in harmful emissions which may cause lung damage. A special suction device can now reduce particles and gases in the air.

Mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, aviation – laser remote processing has been increasingly used in the industry for several years, for example in those cases, in which the steel frame of a car seat is welded or a metallic surface has to be cleaned and roughened in order to bond carbon parts. While in the past it was only possible to laser machine one part after the other, this process now allows parts up to one meter in size to be cut, welded, ablated or structured at different points virtually simultaneously. The process operates with a high intensity of several kilowatts within a few seconds. However, this produces harmful emissions such as small particles and gases. Annett Klotzbach from Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden has been working on the topic in recent years as part of the IGF research project "CleanRemote". Concrete results are now available.

Suction reduces health risks

With a particular suction device, the risk for plant operators will be reduced. They are especially endangered when a production line is reloaded and therefore has to be opened. Particles can then escape and damage the operator's lungs. "Our partners from the Chair of Inorganic Chemistry at TU Dresden have therefore developed a flow computer model to enable us to understand the particle trajectory. With this data, we finally optimise the suction devices," says Klotzbach. In addition to specifically arranged suction hoods, the scientists also installed a so-called transverse jet. "For particles located far from the suction hoods, it is necessary to use such a device. They are blown from one side to the other and then sucked out." Residual soiling will also be removed by CO2 snow blasting, explains the scientist.

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