Abrasive blasting, which is the process of using specialized machinery to project or “shoot” media at high speed across a hard surface, can be ideal for removing old finishes. It can also power away rust or prepare the surface for painting.
Here are 7 tips that can help you choose the best abrasive medium for your specific blasting applications.
HOW TO CHOOSE ABRASIVE BLASTING MEDIA
Better “Soft” Than Sorry If you’re not sure whether the surface you are blasting can handle a more abrasive material, you’re probably better off starting with a gentler medium. Walnut shells or corn cobs can be an excellent choice for softer surfaces such as wood — they won’t cause etching. They also provide the additional benefit of being biodegradable, making them among the most environmentally-friendly blasting media.
Make It Shine With Glass Beads If you’re looking to achieve a smooth, bright finish, glass beads can be your best option. Glass beads are typically made from fine soda-lime glass that places minimal stress on the surface material. Glass beads are also recyclable and can be used up to 100 times before replacement, making them an extremely cost-effective option.
Remove Paint With Aluminum Oxide Aluminum oxide is harder and sharper than glass beads. It’s ideal for use in paint removal and general cleaning applications — it’s also frequently used for glass etching.
Choose Plastic for Automotive and Aerospace Applications Plastic is extremely soft, making it an ideal medium for removing paint from the surface of fiberglass parts. Fiberglass parts are commonly used in the manufacturing of automotive, aerospace and marine products, without etching or stripping. Using plastic for blasting also results in very low levels of dust.
Use Silicon Carbide for Fast Etching Silicon carbide provides an extremely aggressive cutting action that is ideal for fast etching of glass, stone or other hard surfaces. It also works well for removing rust or paint.
Find Super-Hard and Aggressive Steel Media Media made from carbon steel is available in shot or grit form. Steel shot is round in shape and can be used for polishing and peening applications. Steel grit offers a more angular shape and sharper texture. It can be used to remove rust, paint or scale from steel surfaces.
Avoid Sand The terms “sandblasting” and “abrasive blasting” are sometimes used interchangeably. However, many companies are moving away from sand as a blasting medium for a number of reasons. Sand contains silica, which is known to cause serious respiratory illnesses for workers involved in the sandblasting process. Additionally, sand contains a high moisture content that can lead to the premature demise of blasting equipment.