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What Is Abrasive Blasting Used For?

Updated: Jun 24

Abrasive blasting is the process of polishing or smoothing a rough surface using a medium. This process uses compressed water or air to guide a high velocity of the abrasive material stream to clean the surface or prepare it for repainting. In Australia, all operants of blasting and painting equipment must adhere to the code of conduct administered by Safe Work Australia.

In all worksites, there are many metal parts and machinery in which corrosion and rusting are common. Sandblasting is needed for an efficient and quick solution to ensure they look at their optimum best. Although sand is the most commonly used abrasive for blasting, there are other ideal materials such as synthetic abrasives, metallic abrasives, mineral abrasives, smelter slags, and coal slags.

This type of blasting is widely used in the automotive industry, manufacturing, mining, construction, defence, marine, and any other industry that involves surface preparation and painting.

Types and Applications of Abrasive Blasting

1. Vacuum Blasting

This is also called dustless blasting. The process uses a blasting machine containing a vacuum suction designed to remove any surface contaminants and propelled abrasives. It involves sucking back the materials into the control unit. Vacuum blasting is more effective in reusing the spent abrasives; hence, it's cost-effective.

2. Wet Blasting

Wet blasting solves the most significant problem encountered in air blasting — to control the airborne dust resulting from using air blasting. The tool is constructed to inject water into the nozzle at the exit of the abrasives that are propelled by increased air pressure. In either case, a mixture of abrasive particles, water, and air leaves the nozzle and hits the surface at high pressure to clean it.

3. Soda Blasting

This new blasting type uses sodium bicarbonate as the medium for cleaning a surface through air pressure. The abrasive has proved to be useful for removing some contaminants from machine surfaces. Soda blasting exerts great force to clear up the contaminants from surfaces. It's also a gentle form of blasting that requires less pressure, which makes it suitable for soft surfaces like glass, plastic, or chrome.

4. Grit blasting

In steel grit blasting, spherical steels are used as abrasives. The method is commonly used in cleaning metal surfaces. It’s quite useful for removing rust or paint on different steel surfaces. Also, steel grit provides a smoother surface finish and helps in peening; it strengthens a metal. In grit blasting, other materials like walnut shells, silicon carbide, and aluminum can also be used in place of steel.

4 Benefits of Abrasive Blasting On Equipment

The materials used in abrasive blasting are inert; hence they don't react with the surfaces being cleaned chemically. Other alternative methods use chemicals for cleaning, which results in damage and reaction with the surface underneath.

These effects may not be detected immediately, and the problems may emerge long after surface coating. This means you have to re-strip and recoat the material for the second time. And this adds to the overall cost.

1. Efficiency

Abrasive blasting works on all the crannies and nooks of any surface that is undergoing cleaning to ensure a thorough and faster process. The cleaning of surfaces with chemicals is often accompanied by a manual procedure that requires the use of a scraper or brush. The process isn't efficient. Abrasive blasting can make the process much more efficient.

2. Users’ safety

Using abrasive materials for cleaning surfaces is less harmful than the alternative chemical methods. Although sandblasting poses health risks due to sand particles and fine dust generated during the process, the operators can use protective measures to reduce the danger.

3. Eco-friendly

Unlike the chemical cleaning that produces harmful substances into the environment, abrasive blasting is friendlier to the environment. The media used for blasting are eco-friendly and natural materials that don’t emit greenhouse gases when blasting.

4. Surface Profiling

If preparing a surface, particles of different sizes are used to control the adhesion profile of the surface. The roughness extent or surface profiling depends on the requirements of the customer. If chemical stripping is applied, it doesn't allow any control over the material's final surface profile.

4 Reasons Why Not Having Your Heavy Equipment Blasted and Painted Can Be a Problem

1. Rust

Rust damages the metal that helps you in your daily operation. Blasting removes rust from equipment. Whether it's an industrial business or commercial kitchen, having heavy equipment blasted and painted is a beneficial and easy way of making it look better.


There are also many alternative ways to prevent rust from destroying your materials and equipment, which we wrote about in a separate article.

2. Safe and Non-toxic

Alternative processes of cleaning, which involve harsh chemicals, are a risk to your health. They are hazardous to the body and also require more preparation to be completed properly. On the other hand, blasting utilizes safe and non-toxic materials for the environment and equipment. Any quality industrial equipment can be blasted and painted to protect it from damage.

3. Smoothens Surfaces before Painting

If your heavy equipment is painted without smoothing its surface, you can end up with rough spots and won't look right. When the surface has accumulated several paint coats, blasting it before painting will make it more efficient.

4. Removes Stuck-On Contaminants and Oil

Heavy equipment in automotive shops may accumulate large amounts of oil that may require thorough cleaning. Manual cleaning can be a good way, but it cannot clear all the stuck-on grime and oil that has accumulated for an extended period. Using blasting ensures your heavy equipment receives a professional blasting to remove the contaminants and grease that can't be lifted by manual cleaning. This ensures your precision parts are free and clean of debris and dirt.

It's time you got rid of chemical cleaning methods and embraced abrasive blasting, which is safe and cost-effective. You can avoid those hazardous-to-breathe chemicals by going for the quick and non-toxic way that keeps the heavy equipment looking great.

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