We recently got a new piece of machinery here at the factory to help us clean the steel and get it ready to work with. This new Laser Steel Cleaning Machine is going to increase the speed of production and make life a whole lot easier for our steel department!
Our factory is located in Panama and it is hot and humid here which is not the best environment for steel. We use steel in a lot of different applications in our home so we are constantly working with it in different ways. Our steel department is also partially outside so this is a never-ending battle.
Raw steel develops a thin layer of surface rust rather quickly in this environment so it is important for us to clean the surface to ensure that there is no corrosion within the structure. This rust is only on the surface so it does not affect the structural integrity of the steel. There are a few ways of dealing with this rust. Sandblasting has been our usual method but it is messy, time-consuming, and can get expensive when you are buying a ton of blasting sand.
Cue the laser steel cleaning machine. We recently received the machine here at the factory and we got everything set up and ready to test. Our triggerman for the test was Jose Beitia who is a long-time Ocean Builders employee. Jose is an integral part of our team and we wouldn’t be where we are today without his skills and expertise.
As you can see in the video, the machine emits a laser that is actually burning the surface rust off of the steel. This is much faster than sandblasting and uses electricity instead of sand. We just have to run the laser over the steel and it easily cleans that rust up so that the surface is free of corrosion before the application of an epoxy paint that will seal everything in and protect the steel in this harsh environment.
This machine is going to make prepping the steel surfaces a breeze, especially when dealing with larger surfaces like the outriggers and spars. As we continue to move on through the process, we are finding new ways to shave time off of our total production time so that we can make more SeaPods in a faster time. Big things are coming so be sure to stay tuned!