Sandblasting, also known as abrasive grit blasting, is a highly effective method used to clean and prepare surfaces. Skilled professionals such as craftsmen, machinists, and auto mechanics employ this process in their work. While the term “sandblasting” suggests the use of sand as the abrasive material, there are actually various alternatives available.
In simple terms, sandblasting involves propelling a specific media at a high speed using pressurized air. The purpose is to smooth or scrape the surface being blasted. The choice of media depends on the desired outcome, with key factors to consider including hardness, grit size range, speed, and safety.
In certain applications, sandblasting can be used to etch surfaces. For this, a highly hardness media such as Aluminum oxide or Silicon Carbide is required. For smoothing purposes, a media with moderate hardness like Steel Shot is preferred.
Here is a list of common sandblasting media and their hardness:
It is interesting to note that sand is one of the least common blasting media due to the high silica content, which is similar to the “Do Not Eat” packets found in dry food packaging. Safety concerns are a crucial consideration in selecting the blasting media. Glass Beads, for example, are a safe option but may not be suitable for intense needs or etching due to their moderate hardness.
For a detailed explanation of different blasting media, including their best use-cases and safety concerns, refer to this comprehensive resource.
Now that we understand the basics of sandblasting and the factors to consider when choosing a media, let’s explore the ten different ways sandblasting can be used.
Where Can You Use Sandblasting?
Before beginning the sandblasting process, it is essential to determine the type of abrasive to be used. Common media or abrasives include sand, concrete, and metal. To ensure safety and prevent damage to the surrounding area, a sandblasting cabinet is often used to contain the abrasives.
While some individuals may attempt sandblasting on their own, it is highly recommended to seek professional sandblasting services to minimize risks. Once ready, the process can commence with a worker handling an air compressor to facilitate the cleaning process.
Here are ten different uses for sandblasting:
Strips off paint and corrosion
One of the primary purposes of sandblasting is to remove stubborn paint and corrosion from surfaces. Traditional cleaning techniques often struggle to eliminate these marks effectively. Sandblasters are reliable tools that can remove paint, rust, and other contaminants from various surfaces, including cars, houses, and machines. When it comes to removing paint from cars, sandblasting is gentle enough to strip off the paint without harming the underlying metal.
Cleans smaller tools
Sandblast cleaning is not limited to large machines and buildings. It can also be used to clean smaller instruments such as automobile and metal tools. Rusty screwdrivers and wrenches, for example, can be quickly cleaned using sandblasting. Machinery clogged with oil, dirt, and grease can also be effectively cleaned with this process, ensuring efficient functioning and preventing breakdown and wear.
Smooths and polishes devices
While cleaning is the primary function of sandblasting, it also leaves surfaces shiny and polished. Mechanical parts made of metal or plastic often feature rough burrs or irregularities that hinder assembly. Sandblasting not only polishes surfaces but also removes burrs, tags, and excess material, ensuring productive assembly and achieving the intended shape of the surface.
Creates impressive art
Another surprising application of sandblasting is in creating impressive art and designs. Talented artisans use this technique to carve remarkable patterns on various surfaces, including wood, metal, and glass. Additionally, sandblasting can be used to enhance the aesthetic value of commercial properties.
Cleans concrete surfaces
Sandblasting is not limited to industrial and mechanical settings; it is also an effective method for cleaning streets, walkways, pavements, and other concrete surfaces. Regularly cleaning and maintaining these areas extends their lifespan and reduces the possibility of accidents. By using high-speed abrasives, sandblasting can effectively and quickly clean concretes and pavements without wasting water.
Prepares surface for coating activity
Sandblasting is a crucial process for surface preparation before painting, bonding, or other coating activities. Inadequate surface preparation can lead to a failed coating system and premature coating failure. Sandblasting ensures an optimal level of cleanliness, minimizing the presence of contaminants that can reduce the lifespan of the coating. For delicate surfaces like wood, gentler media such as walnut shells or glass beads can be used.
Restores authentic image of bricks and stones
Bricks, stones, and concrete are common materials used in residential and commercial properties. While painting can improve the appearance of deteriorating buildings, sandblasting is a smarter solution to remove unnecessary mortar, paint, and other substances. Not only does it restore the original condition of the material, but it also increases the longevity of the property.
Enables mold remediation
Mold is a prevalent problem in homes and can lead to various health issues if not properly addressed. Sandblasting is a new technique used to eliminate mold, with baking soda or dry-ice as the medium. Sandblasting allows for the quick and effective removal of mold from hard-to-reach places such as attics and crawl spaces, minimizing damage and the need for extensive clean-up.
Creating etched signs
Sandblasting can be used for smaller projects, including creating spectacular signs on wood, glass, or stone surfaces. With more depth than laser engraving, sandblasting allows for the addition of colors to highlight designs. Many businesses utilize this technique to showcase their logo or business name in an artistic way.
Removes oil stains from driveways
Driveways often become stained with grease and oil over time. Wet blasting is an effective method to cleanse driveways by using hot water, soap, and a blasting agent simultaneously. This process breaks down tough stains while blowing them away. Wet blasting offers deeper penetration compared to power washing, ensuring a thorough cleaning while removing a thin layer of the surface. It is recommended to seal the driveway after sandblasting to protect the effects of the process.
In conclusion, sandblasting is a versatile process with various applications across different industries. Understanding the appropriate media and safety considerations is crucial for achieving desired results. Whether you need to strip off paint, clean tools, create art, or prepare surfaces for coating, sandblasting offers a reliable and efficient solution. Seek professional sandblasting services to ensure optimal results and minimize potential risks.
About the author: Alanis Juvelle Henry, formerly a human resource personnel at a construction site, now works as an online writer from home.