Laser cleaning has an important role in the cleaning of production lines in the food industry. Typical parts that are cleaned with a laser are molds, bakeware, baking trays, conveyors, boilers, etc. Specifically for the food industry, there are some advantages of laser cleaning compared to other classic techniques like sandblasting, dry ice blasting, pyrolysis, chemical cleaning or rinsing with water or air under high pressure.
We want to keep the time lost because of the cleaning as short as possible, in order to have as little production loss as possible. Machines, molds or boilers don’t have to be disassembled, which is very time-consuming. With chemical cleaning or sandblasting, the parts have to be treated in special areas because the impact on the environment is too big to clean locally. A big advantage of laser cleaning is that it’s possible to do it on site. The pollution evaporates or falls down and can be easily vacuumed. Thus the entire environment doesn’t has to be completely shielded or cleaned. You will be back in production in a short period of time!
When restarting after a cleaning, the first products aren’t yet of optimal quality and not salable yet. Laser cleaning provides a very deep cleaning that makes it look as if you’re baking on brand new irons every time. The best quality, immediately after the restart!
Laser cleaning makes sure that the biggest part of the pollution evaporates and the remaining dirt loosens and falls down. During the cleaning process, a short but intense heating takes place that causes evaporation. This heat doesn’t only give a level of cleanliness that no other technology can reach, but this heat also has an anti-bacterial effect. Your boilers, molds and conveyors have never been this clean!
Dry ice blasting is more practical than sandblasting because the grains simply evaporate and don’t end up everywhere in the environment. The big disadvantage is that the grains “break down” the pollution and fly into the environment. The dry ice particles disappear afterwards, but the dirt that came off and flies around in the environment, is now everywhere. This often requires an extra manual cleaning to get everything really clean. Or you can shield the entire environment with protective foil, but this will take you hours. With laser cleaning, the dirt evaporates or comes off of the underlying surface. You vacuum it and you’re ready. Even without having to tape everything.
Whether it’s waffle irons, cookie molds or baking trays: they all suffer from the classic cleaning techniques. The sharp shapes in the molds are rounded off by sandblasting and dry ice blasting and chemical cleaning. There is no force present with laser cleaning and thus no wear on your parts. Laser beams consist of 100% light and have no abrasive effect. The light beam reflects on your underlying surface and evaporates the pollution on top. Your molds last significantly longer!
A quick way to clean a bunch of baking tins or baking trays is to burn them clean in a pyrolytic oven. Disadvantage of this technique is that thermal deformation can occur, which makes your molds permanently unusable. Laser cleaning will heat up the contaminated layer very strongly, but not the underlying layer, thanks to the reflection of the laser beam on your mold or baking tray. The heating of the underlying mold is very limited. Even right after a cleaning you can touch the surface with your bare hand!
Cleaning with high pressure or compressed air can be extremely noisy. Even to the extent that no communication is possible anymore in the area where is being cleaned. This isn’t only disturbing, but can even be dangerous for the hearing of your people. Laser cleaning makes a slight buzzing noise, but can’t be compared to other cleaning techniques. There is even no hearing protection required, so talking with colleagues is still possible without the risk of damage to your hearing.
Release coatings can be a big cost. You often need very expensive coatings because they have to adhere to imperfectly cleaned surfaces. If your baking tins are cleaned with laser cleaning, cleaning will be needed less often and you can use cheaper coatings because the underlying surfaces are so clean. Some customers will even completely abandon synthetic coating and only work with grease. A huge saving!