When it comes to removing old finishes, getting rid of rust and corrosion, or preparing a surface for painting, abrasive blasting is often an ideal and efficient solution. By choosing the right material, or ‘media,’ for abrasive blasting, you can save time and money on otherwise intensive cleaning. In this blog, we’ll break down some of the most common blast media, as well as the types of projects they’re best suited for.
The biggest factor in your decision will most likely be what surface you’re planning to blast. Using a blasting media that’s too hard for your surface can cause etching and damage if you aren’t careful. While etchings can sometimes be a desired outcome, scuffs and chips are never a welcome sight. Therefore, it’s often better to be ‘soft’ than sorry. Base walnut shells and corn cobs are perfect for softer materials such as wood, since they won’t cause etchings or marks on the material. These forms of blasting media are also biodegradable, making them especially eco-friendly.
If your objective is to have a smooth, bright finish, glass beads are your best choice. Typically made from fine soda-lime glass, these beads place minimal stress on the surface material, can be recycled, and used up to 100 times before needing to be replaced, making them cost-effective as well.
Harder and sharper than glass beads, aluminum oxide is frequently used in paint removal and general cleaning applications. This sharpness also makes it ideal for glass etching. Plastic on the other hand is relatively soft and is suited for removing paint from the surface of fiberglass components, which are frequently found in automotive, aerospace, and marine vehicles. Plastic also has the benefit of causing low levels of dust during the blasting process. Silicon carbide is hard, durable, and a highly aggressive blasting media, best suited for etching on harder surfaces like glass and stone. It can also be used to remove rust and paint.
Carbon steel can come in both shot and grit form for abrasive blasting purposes. Steel shot is round and often used for polishing or peening metal surfaces. Meanwhile, steel grit offers a more angular shape and sharper texture, and is best used to remove rust, paint, or scale from those same types of surfaces.
Lastly, while “sandblasting” and “abrasive blasting” are terms that have been used interchangeably in the past, sand is increasingly less favored as a blasting media. This is because sand contains silica, which can cause respiratory illnesses in workers exposed to the sandblasting process. Sand also has a high moisture content, which can damage blasting equipment.
No matter what your project is or what material you use, make sure that you follow all health and safety procedures and use the proper protective gear while operating equipment.
At Veritable Aerospace, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find any abrasive blasting materials and tools for aerospace and aviation, defense, and industrial applications. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, new or obsolete, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-919-348-4040.