Susan Sprentall: A Pioneer In Revolutionary Laser Technology For A Sustainable Future

The process of cleaning rusty metal is essential to prevent the spread of rust. Stripping old paint from surfaces prepares them for new paint applications and enhances their appearance. Cleaning graffiti off buildings restores their aesthetic appeal. Container ships, Yachts, Navy Carriers, and other DoD assets, must remove peeling paint and contain corrosion to extend the life of the asset. Before applying fresh paint, surfaces are prepared based on the base material’s SPC standard to guarantee paint adhesion. Even historical artifacts benefit from cleaning, restoring their visual appeal and providing valuable insights. However, maintaining these metals poses challenges.

Susan Sprentall, an accomplished female entrepreneur, recognized this challenge as an opportunity. She is the Founder, President, and CEO of  SurClean, Inc., a company specializing in laser coating removal products. These products stand out for their precision, affordability, energy efficiency, and environmental friendliness. Her vision revolves around minimizing the dissemination of harmful dust particles in the environment, promoting both ecological and human well-being. Drawing from her extensive experience and knowledge spanning decades, she has pioneered the development of this groundbreaking company. In a recent conversation with Mirror Review, she shared her journey, which we explore below.

Susan’s Career Trajectory Toward Innovation

Susan earned her degree in Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) from Purdue University. She further pursued studies in business and accounting at Indiana University. She expanded her knowledge through courses on small businesses at Ball State University and took classes related to transportation and exporting.Beginning her career in 1981, Susan held an engineering position at Delco Electronics. By 1999, she had joined American Laser Spares LLC (ALS), where she assumed the role of vice president. Her responsibilities included spearheading the company’s expansion into new markets. ALS specializes in spare parts for laser equipment used in cutting and welding.In 2002, Susan founded the American Laser Management Company. In this capacity, she managed the marketing efforts of various global laser industry firms, including Precitec, Inc. Additionally, she collaborated with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, contributing to the initiation of the Industrial Laser Community. This initiative aims to popularize laser technology through education. In 2007, a significant transformation occurred as Susan and her husband combined their three companies to establish American Laser Enterprises, LLC. This strategic move facilitated the production of a broader range of products and broader market outreach, streamlining their operations and enhancing their effectiveness.Prior to her tenure at ALS, Susan held a pivotal role as director of sales and marketing at the Independent Welding Cooperative (IWDC). She closely collaborated with 136 member distributors to facilitate product sales. She was instrumental in branding products under the name Weldmark™ and distributing them to member companies. Her contributions extended to committee leadership and board participation at IWDC.Prior to these experiences, Susan assumed the position of National Sales Manager at Associated Equipment (Ace Industrial Products). She oversaw a team of 25 individuals and successfully increased sales by 39 percent over two years. Her responsibilities encompassed production planning, pricing strategies, and marketing efforts.

Helping Nature for a Better World

Susan actively engages in numerous professional organizations, reflecting her dedication to the field. Among these are the Laser Institute of America (LIA), Automation Alley, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), InForum, the Optical Society of America (OSA), the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA), Women in Defense (WID), the National Association of Female Business Executives, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, SPIE, the American Business Women’s Association, the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) Surface & Coatings Panel, Environmental Panel, The Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP), Laser Standard Development Committee, and The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), specifically active in Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA). Further affiliations include the National Small Business Association (NSBA) Leadership Council, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and the Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce.In addition, Susan also contributes to her community by serving on the Employer Council for The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC) and actively participating in volunteer work at the Sister Act Dance Company and Brownsburg High School.Moreover, Susan’s rich experience has also led to her commendable performance in competitions such as GLEQ, SBTC, NEF, RISEup, GAMIC, EYOU, and Automation Alley. The success she achieved in these contests provided her with the necessary funds to promote her innovative ideas and develop prototypes for SurClean. As a result of these accomplishments, SurClean has gained recognition as a National CleanTech and International BlueTech company.

SurClean: Pioneering Laser-Powered Innovation

SurClean Inc. is an emerging company specializing in precise, safe, and efficient laser coating removal and surface preparation machine tools. Its products and services cater to a diverse array of industries, including aerospace, defense, automotive, manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure. Susan emphasizes, “Founded to move our military forward in battling corrosion, SurClean uses years of laser industry expertise to solve coating removal challenges in industries and the military.”Their unique edge lies in their mastery of the laser component, seamlessly integrating it with standard parts to create exceptional solutions. She explains, “By focusing on our specialty, the beam delivery system, and pairing it with off-the-shelf components, we are able to create cutting-edge solutions that are highly customizable.” In contrast to conventional methods involving chemicals, abrasives, or water blasting, SurClean’s laser-based approach proves significantly superior.Traditional techniques often result in hazardous waste and require specialized equipment. Additionally, they struggle with materials like composites, fiberglass, alloys, and metals used in the production of high-value assets. SurClean, despite being a woman-led small enterprise, boasts extensive laser expertise. Susan further adds, “We combine our in-house laser beam delivery system with off-the-shelf laser sources, chillers, and exhaust/fume extraction to create handheld or robotic units tailored for specific applications using laser ablation technology.”

Notable Competencies:

Expertise in OpticsProficiency in Laser TechnologySkillful AutomationSavvy ElectronicsThese strengths harmonize seamlessly within their meticulous assembly process, eventually integrating with SurClean’s patented laser process control and safety systems. Thorough testing ensures compatibility with a variety of OEM laser sources within their dedicated laboratory. SurClean remains at the forefront of laser ablation technology, aligning its systems with state-of-the-art IC, I/O, and PLC protocols. Collaborations with esteemed laser manufacturers, robot suppliers, and technical specialists, along with proprietary coding, empower SurClean to create tailored solutions based on individual customer requirements.

  • Laser Innovations: SurClean’s accomplished team of engineers customizes solutions for diverse laser ablation applications. Employing specialized software, they prototype using methods like 3D printing or precision machining. Rigorous assembly processes ensure impeccable form, fit, and function. The pinnacle is the fusion of the laser tool with SurClean’s patented laser process control and safety systems. Rigorous testing unfolds, involving an array of OEM laser sources within their advanced laboratory.
  • Harnessing Technology for Remarkable Benefits and Success

    SurClean seamlessly integrates the latest IC, I/O, and PLC protocols into its systems. Going beyond that, it designs an exclusive LPC (laser process control) based on specific needs and insights derived from material interactions.

    SurClean operates collaboratively, partnering with renowned laser manufacturers, top-tier robot suppliers, and expert system integrators. The core of SurClean’s innovation centers on its laser beam delivery systems and optical sensors, fueled by proprietary software and patented sensor technology. Their distinctive laser beam delivery system configuration offers remarkable capabilities:

    • Precise removal of multiple layers of coating.
    • Elimination of hazardous chemicals inherent in other methods.
    • The completion of cleaning processes is 16 times faster than chemical methods.
    • A significant 50% reduction in labor costs.

    These advantages translate into substantial savings not only in materials and disposal but also in labor expenditures. The return on investment (ROI) is achieved in less than a year in most instances.

    With remarkable capabilities come noteworthy benefits. Here are some of the advantages of SurClean’s laser coating removal technology:

    • More Precision: The output power of the laser is controlled allowing for precise control to remove only the desired coating, preserving the underlying material. This is vital for applications where the underlying material is valuable or sensitive.
    • Safer: The laser ablation method constitutes a clean process. The paint particle is pulled by the exhaust system through the laser plasma, where it is incinerated into a dust particulate and captured in a HEPA filter to avoid dust, fumes, or hazardous waste. This enhances safety for workers and the environment.
    • Energy Efficiency: The laser system proves highly efficient for coating removal, resulting in potential energy cost savings for businesses
    • Cost-Effective: The laser ablation process offers a more cost-effective long-term solution by reducing or eliminating hazardous waste, registration, certification, additional labor, personal protective garments, less capital equipment, and consumable requirements
    • Environmentally Friendly: The laser ablation process, being a clean process, does not generate dust, fumes, or hazardous waste. This makes it more environmentally friendly than traditional coating removal methods and why all companies should investigate change.

    ALSO READ: The 10 Visionary Tech Leader, 2024


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