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NEWS | Dec. 22, 2020

SRF-JRMC welcomes innovation with laser ablation demo

By Kelsey Aguirre, SRF-JRMC Corporate Communications

YOKOSUKA, Japan – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center’s (SRF-JRMC) machine shop and continuous improvement and innovation office hosted a laser ablation demonstration to educate its workforce about innovative technologies.

Technicians displayed the tool’s capabilities using low-powered and high-powered manual optic lasers to remove paint and debris from various surfaces, including metal and paper.

“This technology would be beneficial to the workforce,” said Capt. Neil Sexton, SRF-JRMC commanding officer. “The time effectiveness on hard-to-reach places and multi-layered surfaces is remarkable. Man-hours can be reduced, allowing for swifter project completion, and secondary waste can be eliminated, reducing exposure to hazardous materials”

Laser ablation is an effective method to remove paint and non-skid surface coatings, including rust and other surface contaminants. Once the power module is warmed up to provide full wattage to the laser, removing the contaminants from shipboard parts or localized areas is quick and straightforward, without burning material, causing damage or creating excessive waste.

With traditional methods such as power- or hand-sanding, grit-blasting or water jet-blasting, additional time and physical effort is needed to completely strip the surface contaminants and paint. With laser ablation, the process is much quicker and does not leave burnt residue or damage.

SRF-JRMC is seeking to bring laser ablation systems to the command to increase throughput, improve work conditions for tradesmen and align with Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) number one goal: to deliver ships back to the U.S. 7th Fleet on time.

Demonstrations such as these are imperative to familiarize the work force with emerging technology and demonstrate effectiveness within the industrial environment. Currently, evaluation of laser ablation effects on material properties and environmental permitting are ongoing in order for NAVSEA to approve laser ablation for use throughout the fleet.