Abrasive blasting is a material removal process used to clean a substrate material. By using a compressed fluid (usually air or water) abrasive materials are pushed into and collide with the substrate material. As the abrasive materials contact the substrate material, they erode away the unwanted material.
Abrasive blasting is an excellent way to clean surfaces that are heavily covered with contaminants, oil and dirt or have only lightly oxidized surfaces. Depending on the condition of the surface and the type of material being blasted, different types of abrasives will be required. Either way, abrasive media blasting is a good choice for preparing substrates.
Abrasive media blasting is often used to prepare a surface prior to coating because if a coating is applied to a dirty surface or a surface with a lot of oxidation, the coating may fail prematurely or corrosion may form underneath the coating. Abrasive blasting prevents this from happening by removing contaminants and providing a smooth, clean surface for the coating so that the coating will not flake, crack, blister or peel off the surface of the material.
Sandblasting is a generic term applied to finishing processes that involve advancing a stream of abrasive material onto the surface of a workpiece at high pressure. Sandblasting can be used for many surface preparation purposes, such as removing contaminants or previous coatings, changing the shape, and smoothing or roughening the surface.
There are many types of blasting applications, each of which requires the use of a different type of blasting material called a blasting "media. The terms "sandblasting" and "abrasive" are often used interchangeably. For most applications, the traditional "dry" blasting process using conventional sand is not recommended. Blasting with sand typically requires twice as much material, which makes it cost prohibitive for many companies.
Sand also contains high levels of silica, which can cause serious respiratory problems when broken down and inhaled by the operator. For this reason, the "sandblasting" process is often performed using alternative types of abrasive materials.
Read more: The most common blasting media.
In an effort to minimize costs, many companies are evaluating whether they can reuse their blasting media. In many cases, the answer is yes - if you are using a sandblasting cabinet, you can reuse abrasive media over and over again.
In terms of recycling, the answer depends on several factors. Sand from sandblasting cannot be reused, but can be recycled into other materials such as cement, while harder materials such as garnet, steel shot, and glass beads can be screened and separated for recycling. However, when used in portable sandblasting applications where there is no sealing method, the sandblasting media cannot be recycled.
The service life of blasting media varies depending on a number of factors, including the following applications and usage patterns.
Starting with larger and harder abrasive results allows for longer repeated use and vice versa.
Blasting below the maximum impact velocity of the abrasive will allow for more versatility.
Always use a separator in the blast cabinet - not doing so will contaminate the recovered abrasive and prevent further use.
Using blasting media that exceeds its ideal recovery rate will slow down the process. Make sure not to overuse abrasive - it will eventually need to be replaced, even if there is some left.
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