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“Laser Ablation” Enables Mold Makers to Achieve Efficiency and Sustainability

1 March 2023

- The end of traditional mold cleaning is near as laser ablation provides efficient, precise and safer options for cost-effective mold cleaning with low operating costs and eco-friendly.

- Laser ablation is widely used in many industries related to the mold and die sector such as medical, aerospace, plastic and microelectronics industries.  

Laser ablation is one of the recent emerging technologies that is widely adopted in the mold and die industry, a sector that is deemed as the backbone of every major manufacturing industry. The technology is used during the surface composite removal process by aiming the laser beam on a solid surface to evaporate or melt contamination.

Mold cleaning with laser ablation technology is a debris-free process with high precision. This method of cleaning can also remove hard residue safely without generating chemical or corrosive waste; therefore, it is environmentally friendly while preventing damages on mold and workpiece due to moisture. Moreover, surface modification for other processes such as painting, thermal spray coating and adhesive application, are possible with laser ablation.

Conventional methods such as dry ice blasting or abrasive cleaner application will cause parts to gradually lose its material integrity and consistency, leading to distortion and eventually damages to the mold. Meanwhile, mold remediation with laser technology can effectively remove residues without damaging the mold’s complex geometry, saving time and more efficient than conventional methods. This helps increase delivery time to the production line much faster, ensuring consistency in manufacturing speed and quality. Other advantages include long-lasting mold life expectancy and minimal maintenance costs such as parts replacement and consumables purchases.

Recent advancement in technologies allow mold makers to choose options between human or robotic control ablation system or machine, which are easily integrated into existing production line.

As laser ablation removes substrate or layers of coating from the surface of the manufactured parts, it causes minimal to none thermal and structural impact on the surrounding materials. This is why laser ablation is the top in-demand technology for high-tech industries such as aerospace and automotive for surface/joints preparation and mold remediation; plastics and composites industries for metal and composite surface preparation prior to forming and bonding; and mold cleaning for manufacturing plastic furniture with intricate details and complex patterns. In addition, this process is utilized to etch conductors and insulators in the microelectronics industry as well as implant surface preparation in the medical industry.

Another notable application for laser technology is restoration of historical artworks. The precise calibration of laser allows eliminating residues without damaging the art piece. The technology’s efficiency and capabilities in cleaning without causing potential damages and contamination, allows users to significantly reduce costs while restoring an artwork, a process that is used to be impossible is now possible in this modern time.

Get your insights into laser ablation technologies and mold industry movements from future ME Blogs. For those interested in experiencing mold technologies, please visit ‘InterMold Thailand 2023’, which will showcase mold and die manufacturing solutions from over 250 brands, including maintenance and technologies on laser ablation, tools & tooling and 3D printing. Also don’t miss hot insights and new knowledge with the industry thought leaders at the conference. So, mark your date and head to the event on 21-24 March 2023 at BITEC, Bangkok.