Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes, but in a pinch an industrial handheld laser will do -- especially if the truth is hidden under a thick layer of grease.
Not sure why I hadn't discovered these mesmerizing videos before, but there's something extremely satisfying about watching rusted machine parts get zapped cleaned with the beam from a 1,000-watt short-pulsed laser.
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Hat tip to Sploid's Andrew Liszewski for recently sharing a video posted by the Belgian-based company P-Laser. The video, originally uploaded to YouTube in May, begs quite a few questions, though. Like how exactly does this thing work, and who gets to use such a handy laser?
This particular one, the P-Laser QF-1000, works by sending a beam of light to the surface of a substrate that's usually metal. The stuck-on dirt layer and any oxides underneath absorb the energy, evaporating or crimping off without harming the substrate, according to the specs (PDF). But there are a whole bunch of lasers for industrial cleaning out there.
Applications vary, and include things like safely lifting caked-on bits from bakery trays, cleaning steel molds and restoring printer rollers. The lasers work selectively, taking off unwanted stuff like grease, paint, rust, coatings, oxides. Without a laser, cleaning machine and production parts may require tricky chemicals or messy liquids as well as inconsistent manual scrubbing.
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In between Sploid commenters referencing "Real Genius" and saying how much their cats liked the video, there were musings about whether the laser actually "annihilates" everything in its path. "You would be surprised how these lasers can preferentially remove material," one commenter clarified, linking to a video showing a different 1,000-watt industrial laser going over a guy's hand.
When you're done watching that, here's the QF-1000 going to town on a rusty pipe. I refuse to admit how many times I've watched it: