In the world of metal parts and machineries, rust and corrosion are regular frustrations. For manufacturers, rough surfaces when there shouldn't be any and the presence of contaminants are worries. Thankfully, a simple yet effective process known as abrasive blasting can address all these concerns.
Like its name indicates, abrasive blasting is the process of literally blasting a surface with abrasive material to smooth, remove impurities and to etch it. Like pressure washing, the amount of force used determines how well and how quickly desired results can be produced. Typically, the process doesn't use wet fluid as the power source. Air is utilized instead except in the case of wet abrasive blasting which uses water.
Wet abrasive blasting: The use of water aside, wet abrasive blasting is a gentler process as the medium acts as a cushion against the oft times overly harsh action of abrasive materials. Damage is minimized and the chance of preventing foreign material from being blasted into the surface is reduced.
The water also excellently cleans surfaces to make bonding and coating processes simpler and efficient. Since contamination is kept to a minimum, multiple items can be blasted using a single piece of equipment. Cost is, therefore, reduced as is time.
Bead blasting: In bead blasting, fine spherical glass beads are shot with high pressure over a surface to polish and clean it. Unlike sandblasting where millions of quartz sand particles are the abrasive agents, glass is milder and less damaging so more delicate items can be polished quicker.
Bead blasting is commonly used to remove paint from auto bodies and to clean tiles of fungus. Like other blasting techniques, it paves the way for finishes to be applied and for cosmetic flaws to be improved.
Dry ice blasting: Dry blasting makes use of no abrasive materials but uses soft dry ice that's shot at extremely high speeds to create tiny explosions on a surface which removes contaminants. Though it isn't a true abrasive blasting technique, it's still deemed as such because the force of the blasted air turns the dry ice into a powerful abrasive-like material.
Dry ice blasting has several advantages over other processes, most notably the absence of abrasive material and the lack of secondary contaminants like grit media. Dry ice sublimates so there's no residue to clean.
Bristle blasting: In bristle blasting, there's no separate blast media; rather, steel wire bristles are rotated against a surface to remove impurities and smooth and polish it. The energy used is equivalent to that used by traditional blasting techniques.
Bristle blasting is most often used to clean metal surfaces of corrosion to prepare or directly use them in related applications.
Wheel blasting: Wheel blasting is similar to bristle blasting in that it's an airless operation. However, it differs by not needing to come into direct contact with a surface but rather pushing abrasive material against the surface.
Wheel blasting is a more effective process when cleaning large components. It's also cheaper since it doesn't use any air or water. However, being a high velocity process it's prone to damaging components although this is true of any abrasive blasting technique which can only be countered by using the right type and fineness of grit and controlling the velocity of the air or water.