Architectural Restoration – Laser Cleaning

Laser cleaning technology is a remarkable and unique tool for architectural restoration and conservation. Cleaning with laser light has proven to be the most gentle and effective method for restoring the beauty of historic architectural treasures including sculptures, bronze statues, ornate terracotta as well as entire building façades.

Laser cleaning removes harmful and unsightly deposits without chemicals, abrasives, water, dust or residues that can permanently damage historic surfaces. Moreover, laser cleaning is a green process; it produces no secondary waste, no run-off and no dust that can pose risks to people and the planet. Laser cleaning offers conservators an amazing tool to clean and enhance historic surfaces in a way not possible with any other method.

 

Benefits

  • Gentle cleaning with light
  • No abrasion on delicate surfaces
  • Non-contact / non-kinetic – only laser light processes the surface
  • No chemicals, no consumables, no blast media
  • Totally dry cleaning process – no water or liquids that can cause moisture damage & corrosion
  • Easy to operate & easy to adjust
  • Mobile laser systems with a handheld head can go virtually anywhere
  • High reliability with low maintenance
  • Minimal operating costs
  • Environmentally friendly – Clean & Green

 

Applications

 

Natural Stone & Masonry Building Facades

Laser technology can gently clean and remove soil from sandstone, marble, granite, terracotta as well as concrete without causing physical damage or harm architectural surfaces. Laser light can precisely clean colored and pigmented surfaces to remove centuries of soot, unsightly soil to restore the original beauty.

Very precise adjustment of the laser system’s power, from 0-100% and intensity through interchangeable laser optics, provide a unique and innovative tool for restoration unlike any other available.

Laser Systems Available to the Restorer

Powerful mobile laser systems for large-scale applications with beam delivery by fiber optic cable up to 50 m in length for optimal flexibility

Conservation and Restoration of Sculptures and National Monuments

Laser  cleaning technology is a gentle and efficient tool for restoration and facade cleaning. With laser cleaning, stone and metallic surfaces can be freed from persistent environmental dirt and weathering.  Owing to the extremely short impact time of the laser beam, the base material is not strained, either mechanical and chemical damage is impossible. Similar to a torch, the manually guided machining optic is able to work without direct contact with the material.  Thereby a best possible possible result is guaranteed, thanks to the interaction of the hand-held laser, technique and the skilful restorer.

Benefits

  • Gentle cleaning with laser light
  • No abrasion by using  abrasive media
  • No mechanical or chemical influences at all
  • No harm from humidity (laser cleaning is a dry process).
  • Easy handling
  • Mobile environmentally friendly tool for  economical operation

Laser cleaning removes corrosive weathering agents, such as salt deposits, hydrocarbons, soot, air pollution without destroying the natural grown protective passivation layers of bronze or other metals. Besides sandstone laser cleaning also removes impurities off marble, granite, terracotta as well as cement and Paris of Plaster without any influence on the building’s architectural appearance. Owing to the fine tuning of the laser light coloured and pigmented surfaces may be cleaned gently of century’s soot and dust. Even processing cloth and wood is possible with short pulsed laser systems.

Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Works of Art

Cleaning of unwanted surface layers on cultural artefacts is a very critical and delicate operation in cultural heritage conservation. Aiming to enhance the aesthetics and appearance of the artwork and to reveal hidden details or information, it is the Conservator-Restorer’s responsibility to interact directly and irreversibly with the cultural material and thus exceptional control and selectivity are required.

Among the cleaning methodologies, lasers hold an important role as they enable high control and accuracy, material selectivity and immediate feedback. Their wide implementation was initially sceptical due to the lack of information about the interaction process between laser light and photosensitive materials.  There was also a doubt about the irreversible nature of the process and restrictions in testing on authentic surfaces. Nevertheless, over the last decades, knowledge has been built up, extensive studies on model samples have been carried out and technological breakthroughs addressed successfully all these challenges, even inspired new approaches to cleaning.   Laser cleaning has now been established as a highly effective and versatile tool in everyday conservation practice.

Laser cleaning works by using extremely short duration pulses of laser light, scanned across the surface to vaporise soil, carbon deposits, oxides with other organic and inorganic contaminants. A fume extractor is used to capture the vaporized residues as they are removed to give a dust-free process with nothing to clean-up. The equipment is designed for safe use in a wide-range of applications. For personnel safety, the operator, and observers, wear special laser safety glass that provides comfortable eye protection.

In the hands of a skilled restorer or conservator, this simple-to-use hand-held laser cleaning tool produces amazing results as it uncovers and helps preserve the natural beauty of our cultural heritage .

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