LASCLEAN - Laser cleaning, polishing and multi spectral analysis of surfaces for artworks, artwork restoration and industrial applications

Basque Country, Spain Piedmont, Italy

The LASCLEAN project is focus R&D activities on two specific subjects:

I. Laser cleaning and polishing for industrial applications

Surface laser cleaning and polishing techniques could be used in several industrial sectors like aeronautics, aerospace, mechanics, electronics, tools manufacturing, automotive and transportations industries. There are interesting industrial applications, needed by the industry, not covered by conventional methods, which will be further investigated.

The application of Laser cleaning is focused on the following subjects:

  • Cleaning of metallic surfaces contaminated by oil, oxides, greases to prepare the samples for subsequent processes of soldering, brazing, gluing, joining.
  • Laser deburring of metallic injected components.
  • Micro cleaning and micro coating removal

Laser polishing of metallic rough surfaces of components and tools is quite a new technique started in recent years. Compared to the traditional methods (abrasive diamond pastes, aggressive chemical products…), laser polishing offers many appreciable improvements, being a process dust free, flexible, fast, non-contact, advantageously suitable for automation.

The project addresses the solution of specific needs detected in aeronautical and tool industries, where the manual polishing operations are in most cases subcontracted to specialized industries or are carried out process by skilful operators. The technical aim is the laser polishing of high added value components such as turbine blades.

II. Laser cleaning and polishing for artwork restoration

The Laser technology has been applied recently in restoration, demonstrating the capability of overcoming many of the above drawbacks. The Laser cleaning technique is suitable to several types of artworks in different state of preservation, considering that there is no mechanical action, thus avoiding any damage problem even in samples that are mechanically weak.

The project is focused the application of the Laser technology for the restoration of artworks pertaining to objects and complements of furniture (statues, paintings, furniture, vase, etc.), with the specific objective of the evaluation of Laser cleaning compared to traditional chemical processes.

For this purpose a set of test samples reproducing artworks have been prepared. A complete surface characterisation of these samples before and after the cleaning process is performed, to reach a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the results.

The results of the scientific investigations, in correlation with the Laser parameters adopted for the cleaning process will allow the evaluation of the efficacy and selectivity of the process. The collection of all the above data, properly organized, will constitute a database containing useful parameters and protocols, easily accessible by other operators, providing indications on the correct methodological approach to be adopted in artwork laser cleaning.

A further objective is the development of a diagnostic instrumentation, based on the Laser technology, specifically suitable in the restoration activity, with a special aim in finding solutions that are not just laboratory oriented, but easily portable on site.

The use in the project of a 3D digitalisation system will help positively to rebuild lost parts from artworks before the restoration operation take place.

The fulfilment of these two objectives will generate a methodology, based on well-defined parameters, to select the proper restoration approach for the specific artwork.

Cleaning ablation process will be controlled, tested and analysed through an innovative multispectral micro scanner, able to perform three-dimensional micro-surface reconstructions. This particular equipment will permit to the operator full spectral evaluation and supervision of the cleaning process.

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