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Stone and Brick
3D Printed Equipment
Innovative steam cleaning for efficient, effective results that won't damage stone exteriors
Spectrum was approached by a Guildford-based housing association that needed help cleaning the façades of its buildings. Spectrum had previously worked with the housing association on a number of stone cleaning and brick restoration projects and so the client was aware of our innovative approach and specialist cleaning expertise.
Our operatives had 3 weeks in which to complete the project. During this time, we protected the surrounding areas to ensure they were not damaged by the cleaning process or by our operatives accessing the site.
The Guildford site was in need of a deep clean as it had a very heavy build-up of staining and moss on the stone façade. The stone had not been cleaned for a long time and so the organic matter was deeply ingrained in the surface of the facade.
As a London-based contractor, Spectrum has extensive experience dealing with heavily stained stone façades. We have worked on a number of period buildings in and around London, removing a variety of moss, mould and discolouration in the process. This meant that we had the expertise and the experience necessary to restore the property to its original aesthetic condition.
There were two main logistical challenges our operatives had to overcome at the Guildford site. One of these was the stone itself. This type of material can be very delicate, especially when it is old and has been exposed to the elements for many years. High pressure water jets can easily damage the surface of the stone, resulting in an uneven, patchy aesthetic on completion of the job.
Over the years, Spectrum has restored a number of historic buildings in London so our operatives were well aware of the risks and the issues involved with the clean. On these types of projects it is essential that the architectural design and beauty of the building is preserved, so experience working with historic buildings is a major advantage.
Instead of potentially damaging high pressure water jets, our operatives relied on steam to remove the staining and organic matter from the surface of the stone. They chose to work with the DOFF cleaning system for the project. This process uses super-heated steam to loosen and remove all types of discolouration and organic matter. The system is incredibly effective and, when it is used by experienced operatives, can achieve outstanding results.
Another logistical challenge faced by our team was access. Due to the layout of the Guildford site, scaffolding was not an option. However, using the DOFF system without scaffolding or heavy machinery is virtually unheard of. To overcome this issue, our operatives designed and 3D printed their own parts and adapted the system to better suit their needs. This allowed them to thoroughly clean the façade of the building without the use of scaffolding or heavy machinery and achieve fantastic results using the DOFF cleaning system.
Before beginning the clean at the Guildford site, our operatives designed and 3D printed bespoke tools and equipment for the job. The printing, which was done in our London workshop, allowed our operatives to modify the DOFF cleaning system to better suit the job.
The Spectrum team used our patented carbon fibre tubes to adapt the DOFF system so that it could be used with our patented steam cleaning equipment. This modified equipment is unique to Spectrum with no other operators using the same innovative system.
The modifications made by the Spectrum team allowed the DOFF system to be used from the safety of the ground. This minimised the risks to operatives and passers-by and made the site as safe as possible. Further safety precautions included stone health training for our operatives. This taught them how to effectively clean stone while keep the site safe.
Using the DOFF system for stone cleaning without the help of scaffolding or heavy machinery is very unusual. Spectrum was very proud to have been able to innovate and adapt the system to suit the project and meet the challenge. The parts we 3D printed were so effective that our operatives were able to clean all of the high elevations on the building from the safety of the ground.
It was important for our operatives to use the DOFF system on this project as it allowed them to clean the building while protecting the stone. The machine heats steam to 150 degrees and then uses a targeted nozzle to deliver this super-heated water directly to the surface of the stone.
As the steam is delivered in low pressure jets, it is able to remove almost all traces of moss, mould, staining and discolouration from the facade without damaging the surface of the stone. This is very important when working on historic buildings as it allows our operatives to preserve and protect the character of the building and the beauty of the stone.
In some cases, the DOFF machines heat the steam to over 150 degrees. This is so that, in cold weather, the steam does not drop below the required temperature before it comes into contact with the stone. There are no other machines available that are able to clean façades in this way, making the DOFF system a uniquely effective tool in the fight against dirt, grime and discolouration.
Heated steam is key to removing these types of stains from façades of all types. The high temperatures kill organic matter while other types of discolouration are quickly loosened and removed by the super-heated water.
While working on the site in Guildford, our London-based operatives also cleaned the windows and cleared the gutters on the property. This shows our commitment to doing a thorough job in all circumstances.
Our work on the Guildford site was very successful with a marked difference between the appearance of the facade before and after the clean. Our operatives were able to remove all staining and discolouration from the facade without damaging the underlying stone. This allowed them to restore the property to its original aesthetic condition.
Our operatives were especially pleased with the innovations made to the DOFF cleaning system. By combining the system with our patented process, and 3D printing parts for the job, they were able to effectively adapt this powerful tool for the job.
This innovative approach allowed our operatives to clean the façade of the building without the use of scaffolding or heavy machinery. Working from the ground instead of from scaffolding or cherry pickers allowed our teams to work quickly and safely and saved the client a considerable amount on access costs. Our operatives will now be able to use the same groundbreaking approach on future projects that require careful cleaning at high elevations.
Both the client and Spectrum operatives were very pleased with the results of the clean. The project was completed within the 3-week timescale allocated for the work
No scaffolding was required for this restoration project.
Utilising low pressure, steam cleaning all of the moss, mold, and staining was removed without damaging the stone
20th October 2020
4th February 2021
18th June 2020
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27th July 2021
17th December 2020
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Spectrum transforms buildings over the whole of the UK. Call our London based office and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and will be able to provide access to our Spectrum teams and help deliver a plan for your requirements.