The 60th Maintenance Squadron at Travis Air Force Base in California, was chosen to test the new neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet lasers, also known as Nd:YAG lasers, according to the U.S Air Force. Over the next two years, they will be testing the capability of the lasers so they can develop a training plan while also determining the protection needed while using the lasers.
These lasers have the potential to provide a healthier and safer work environment while minimizing waste production. With the use of a primer containing chromate, a known carcinogen, the lasers offer a safety that traditional sanding and blasting do not.
During traditional sanding and blasting, the solution is blasted into the air where it can be inhaled, requiring workers to where respirators, Staff Sgt. Bennie E. Rizzo III, the 60th MXS aircraft structural maintenance supervisor said in the release.
The lasers, on the other hand, have a vacuum built into it, where it can then suck up the particles as the substance is removed thereby keeping the carcinogens out of the air and allows it to be used without a respirator.
"We have to fill out documentation every time we use a laser on a piece of equipment, then we use the traditional way on another piece of equipment. We document what we save for hazardous waste and how much time we saved, if we saved anything at all, and then send that up to the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Brian Horak, the 60th MXS aircraft structural maintenance section chief, in the story.
Testing will begin after the initial test results relaying information about safety and operation requirements are returned.
"The lasers far surpass the old methods in the hazardous waste arena," said Staff Sgt. Bennie E. Rizzo III, the 60th MXS aircraft structural maintenance supervisor, said in the story. "I think the laser systems are going to be the way of the future."
Rachael Kalinyak is an editorial intern with Network Solutions.