Why are corrosive chemicals used for removing rust or polishing precious metals instead of pulse lasers?


I was just watching a video lasers would help removing away rust. So why isn’t it actually used in industries? Wouldn’t that make the process a lot less easier? Link: https://youtu.be/-BeTq99LqUo

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Laser removal is relatively new and the equipment is a lot more expensive than a bucket ‘o’ chemicals, so part of it is just attrition…there’s several hundred years of chemical & abrasive polishing infrastructure in the world, you don’t just change that out overnight. It will take years, even if everyone decides tomorrow that they want to go laser.

On top of that, you can’t use lasers for everything. You need geometry that allows the laser to reach the surface, which isn’t always true. You need high electrical power, which isn’t always true. You may have surface finish requirements that a laser can’t meet, etc.

There are industrial rust removing lasers. They are however, very very expensive. Even a small handheld, relatively low powered one, can cost as much as a sports car. They’re also relatively new technology. Sure lasers in some form or another have existed for many years but purpose built high powered lasers are still relatively new. That means that for a business to justify the cost of owning and operating such a laser (don’t forget the power bill!) it has to be of a certain scale.

Chemical rust removers on the other hand have been around for a long time, they’re fairly cheap, and also fairly effective, and also more versatile. They’re ideal for household use as well as professional, small scale use. Not every plumber or mechanic has the money, or even need for a $200k laser when a chemical rust remover does the job just as well.

Lasers are more suitable for more specialised tasks and make sense in a different environment.

Also quite dangerous to use? Polished metal can bounce that beam away in unpredictable directions.