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How Does A Sandblaster Work?

All sandblasters work on roughly the same principles: finely ground silica sand is used to clean and abrade a surface, typically metal, of any rust, paint or other unwanted surface materials. This is done by means of an air-powered pressure gun that fires out the sand at high velocity to impact with the intended surface. All sandblasters use said pressurized gun, which has a ceramic barrel or interior coating to prevent the sand from eroding it over time. The exact process by which the sand is introduced to the gun differs. Basically speaking, there are three types of sandblaster.

The first of the three types of sandblaster is the gravity-fed model. There are three basic parts to this model: an air compressor or pressurized air tank, a hand-held pressure gun with air hose and a hopper on top of the gun. The hose connects to the air tank, and the hopper is filled with silica sand. When the trigger of the gun is depressed two things happen. First, compressed air fires through the gun as long as the trigger is held down. Second, an opening at the top of the gun into which the hopper is connected opens. The air flowing through the gun and the force of gravity pulls the sand down through the gun and out the barrel.

Pressure blasters are more often used by commercial organizations, as they are significantly easier to use than the other models but also cost more to use. They consist of a large canister containing silica sand under high pressure. This is a bit similar to the concept behind an aerosol can. A sandblasting gun, usually a two-handed model, is connected to the port at the top of the canister by means of a specialized hose that can withstand the abrading affects of the sand. When the trigger of the gun is pulled, both the air and sand are forced out as a single entity. This means cleanup and maintenance is practically nonexistent, but there are some drawbacks. Because the canisters are fully enclosed, the sand that they fire out cannot be collected and reused. Also when the canister is empty, it must be swapped out for another, or an entirely new one must be purchased, both at significant cost. A siphon sandblaster is the model you're most likely to find in any handyman's possession. It can be used to clean and strip large surfaces and is moderately cheap. It consists of three parts. It has a sandblasting gun with two separate hoses, one connected to the bottom of the handle and the other connected the underside of the barrel. It has a normal pressurized tank or air compressor. It also has a reservoir of loose sand. This takes the form of a large bucket or container of some kind. The air hose of the gun is connected to the compressor, while the other hose is connected to the underside of the separate sand reservoir. When the gun is fired, the air serves to create a suction, which pulls the sand from the reservoir up the hose and into the gun to be fired out the barrel. As a result of this system, the sand that is fired out the barrel can be collected and placed back in the reservoir to be reused again and again.

Sandblasting is a general term used to describe the act of propelling very fine bits of material at high-velocity to clean or etch a surface. Sand used to be the most commonly used material, but since the lung disease silicosis is caused by extended inhalation of the dust created by sand, other materials are now used in its place. Any small, relatively uniform particles will work, such as steel grit, copper slag, walnut shells, powdered abrasives, even bits of coconut shell. Due to the dangers of inhaling dust during the process, sandblasting is carefully controlled, using an alternate air supply, protective wear, and proper ventilation. A sandblasting setup usually consists of three different parts: the abrasive itself, an air compressor, and a blaster nozzle. For etching and small object cleaning, a workstation to hold the piece of glass is also needed, as is some sort of collector to gather up excess dust. Sandblasting is primarily used for two somewhat different applications. The first of these is to clean a surface of anything that may be clinging to it. The second is to either etch or carve designs or words into glass or a similar material. The first sandblasting process was patented in the US in 1870. As a cleaning method, it is often used for priming a surface for the application of paint or a sealant. When painting, one doesn't want to trap dust, dirt, or bubbles in a previous layer of paint, or other imperfections under the new layer. By launching small bits of abrasive at the surface at a high speed, all imperfections are knocked loose and can then be easily washed off, creating an incredibly smooth surface upon which to lay the new layer of paint. Sandblasting may also be used for such projects as cleaning the hulls of ships or large structures such as the Golden Gate Bridge. In decorating glass, sandblasting is a wonderfully popular technique, with few substitutes. While hand-etching is possible, it is incredibly time consuming and expensive, and laser-etching has a range of flaws which make it a questionable choice. There are two main ways in which sandblasting is used to decorate glass: etching and carving. In glass etching, abrasive is blasted at the glass lightly to turn the glass semi-opaque. This 'whiting' or 'snowing' of the glass can be used to great effect to produce words or images. By adjusting the speed of the sandblasting and the angle from which the abrasive is being launched, differing shades can be created, allowing for some true works of art. Glass is carved by steadily sandblasting the surface through a stencil which protects the areas you don't want to be carved out. Sandblasting as a technique for carving can be very nuanced, with differing depths and angles of cuts creating an array of lighting effects that may be quite beautiful. The cost of sandblasting equipment depends greatly on the scope of the projects intended. A small home glass carving setup can be acquired relatively inexpensively, while a system with a cabinet capable of handling larger pieces of glass and more nuanced sandblasting can cost significantly more. A professional-level artistic sandblasting setup will likely be quite expensive. Industry-level sandblasting equipment also varies in cost, again depending on the scale and scope of the projects to be completed.

Abrasive blasting

Sandblasting a stone wall

Diesel powered compressor used as an air supply for sandblasting

A corrosion pit on the outside wall of apipeline at a coating defect before and after abrasive blasting.

Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, shape a surface, or remove surface contaminants. A pressurized fluid, typically air, or a centrifugal wheel is used to propel the blasting material (often called the media). The first abrasive blasting process was patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman on 18 October 1870.[1] There are several variants of the process, such as bead blasting, sand blasting, sodablasting, and shot blasting.
Contents
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1 Types

o o o o o o o o

1.1 Wet abrasive blasting 1.2 Bead blasting 1.3 Wheel blasting 1.4 Hydro-blasting 1.5 Micro-abrasive blasting 1.6 Automated blasting 1.7 Dry ice blasting 1.8 Bristle blasting

2 Equipment

o o o

2.1 Portable blast equipment 2.2 Blast cabinet 2.3 Blast room

3 Media 4 Safety

4.1 Worn-look jeans

5 Applications 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography

Types[edit]
Wet abrasive blasting[edit]
One of the original pioneers of the wet abrasive (vapormatting) process was Norman Ashworth who found the advantages of using a wet process a strong alternative to sandblastingwhich is banned in many countries. Common features include: the ability to use extremely fine or coarse media with densities ranging from plastic to steel, the ability to use hot water and soap to allow simultaneous degreasing and blasting, elimination of dustso silicacious materials can be used without worry, hazardous material or waste can be removed without dangere.g., removal of asbestos, radioactive, or other poisonous products from components and structures leading to effective decontamination. The process is available in all conventional formats including hand cabinets, walk-in booths, automated production machinery and total loss portable blasting units. Process speeds can be as fast as conventional dry sand blasting when using the equivalent size and type of media. However the presence of water between the media and the substrate being processed creates a lubricating cushion that can protect both the media and the surface from excess damage. This has the dual advantage of lowering media breakdown rates and preventing impregnation of foreign materials into the

surface. Hence surfaces after wet blasting are extremely clean, there is no embedded secondary contamination from the media or from previous blasting processes, and there is no static cling of dust to the blasted surface. Subsequent coating or bonding operations are always better after wet blasting than dry blasting because of the cleanliness levels achieved. The lack of surface recontamination also allows the use of single equipment for multiple blasting operationse.g., stainless steel and carbon (mild) steel items can be processed in the same equipment with the same media without problems.

Bead blasting[edit]
Bead blasting is the process of removing surface deposits by applying fine glass beads at a high pressure without damaging the surface. It is used to clean calcium deposits from pool tiles or any other surfaces, and removes embedded fungus and brighten grout color. It is also used in auto body work to remove paint.

Wheel blasting[edit]
In wheel blasting, a wheel uses centrifugal force to propel the abrasive against an object. It is typically categorized as an airless blasting operation because there is no propellant (gas or liquid) used. A wheel machine is a high-power, high-efficiency blasting operation with recyclable abrasive (typically steel or stainless steel shot, cut wire, grit, or similarly sized pellets). Specialized wheel blast machines propel plastic abrasive in a cryogenic chamber, and is usually used for deflashing plastic and rubber components. The size of the wheel blast machine, and the number and power of the wheels vary considerably depending on the parts to be blasted as well as on the expected result and efficiency. The first blast wheel was patented by Wheelabrator in 1932.[2]

Hydro-blasting[edit]
Hydro-blasting, commonly known as water blasting, is commonly used because it usually requires only one operator. In hydro-blasting, a highly pressured stream of water is used to remove old paint, chemicals, or buildup without damaging the original surface. This method is ideal for cleaning internal and external surfaces because the operator is generally able to send the stream of water into places that are difficult to reach using other methods. Another benefit of hydro-blasting is the ability to recapture and reuse the water, reducing waste and mitigating environmental impact.

Micro-abrasive blasting[edit]
Main article: Abrasive jet machining Micro-abrasive blasting is dry abrasive blasting process that uses small nozzles (typically 0.25 mm to 1.5 mm diameter) to deliver a fine stream of abrasive accurately to a small part or a small area on a larger part. Generally the area to be blasted is from about 1 mm2 to only a few cm2 at most. Also known as pencil blasting, the fine jet of abrasive is accurate enough to write directly on glass and delicate enough to cut a pattern in an eggshell.[citation needed] The abrasive media particle sizes range from 10 micrometres up to about 150 micrometres. Higher pressures are often required.

The most common micro-abrasive blasting systems are commercial bench-mounted units consisting of a power supply and mixer, exhaust hood, nozzle, and gas supply. The nozzle can be hand-held or fixture mounted for automatic operation. Either the nozzle or part can be moved in automatic operation.

Automated blasting[edit]
Automated blasting is simply the automation of the abrasive blasting process. Automated blasting is frequently just a step in a larger automated procedure, usually involving other surface treatments such as preparation and coating applications. Care is often needed to isolate the blasting chamber from mechanical components that may be subject to dust fouling.

Dry ice blasting[edit]


In this type of blasting air and dry ice is used and with the help of a huge mass and air pressure, the parent material is cleaned without destroying the properties of the parent material. The dry icesublimates, leaving no residue to clean up.

Bristle blasting[edit]
Main article: Bristle Blasting Bristle blasting, unlike other blasting methods, does not require a separate blast media. The surface is treated by a brush-like rotary tool made of dynamically tuned high-carbon steel wire bristles. Repeated contact with the sharp, rotating bristle tips results in localized impact, rebound, and crater formation, which simultaneously cleans and coarsens the surface.

Equipment[edit]

Device used for adding sand to the compressed air (top of which is a sieve for adding the sand)

Portable blast equipment[edit]


Mobile dry abrasive blast systems are typically powered by a diesel air compressor. The air compressor provides a large volume of high pressure air to a single or multiple "blast pots". Blast pots are pressurized,

tank-like containers, filled with abrasive material, used to allow an adjustable amount of blasting grit into the main blasting line. The number of blast pots is dictated by the volume of air the compressor can provide. Fully equipped blast systems are often found mounted on semi-tractor trailers, offering high mobility and easy transport from site to site. Others are hopper-fed types making them lightweight and more mobile. In wet blasting, the abrasive is introduced into a pressurized stream of water or other liquid, creating a slurry. Wet blasting is often used in applications where the minimal dust generation is desired. Portable applications may or may not recycle the abrasive.

Blast cabinet[edit]

A sand-blasting cabinet

A blast cabinet is essentially a closed loop system that allows the operator to blast the part and recycle the abrasive. It usually consists of four components; the containment (cabinet), the abrasive blasting system, the abrasive recycling system and the dust collection. The operator blasts the parts from the outside of the cabinet by placing his arms in gloves attached to glove holes on the cabinet, viewing the part through a view window, turning the blast on and off using a foot pedal or treadle. Automated blast cabinets are also used to process large quantities of the same component and may incorporate multiple blast nozzles and a part conveyance system. There are three systems typically used in a blast cabinet. Two, siphon and pressure, are dry and one is wet:

A siphon blast system (suction blast system) uses the compressed air to create vacuum in a chamber (known as the blast gun). The negative pressure pulls abrasive into the blast gun where the compressed air directs the abrasive through a blast nozzle. The abrasive mixture travels through a nozzle that directs the particles toward the surface or workpiece.

Nozzles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Tungsten carbide is the liner material most often used for mineral abrasives. Silicon carbide and boron carbide nozzles are more wear resistant and are often used with harder abrasives such as aluminum oxide. Inexpensive abrasive blasting systems and smaller cabinets use ceramic nozzles.

In a pressure blast system, the abrasive is stored in the pressure vessel then sealed. The vessel is pressurized to the same pressure as the blast hose attached to the bottom of the pressure vessel. The abrasive is metered into the blast hose and conveyed by the compressed gas through the blast nozzle.

Wet blast cabinets use a system that injects the abrasive/liquid slurry into a compressed gas stream. Wet blasting is typically used when the heat produced by friction in dry blasting would damage the part.

Blast room[edit]
A blast room is a larger version of a blast cabinet and the blast operator works inside the room. A blast room includes three of the four components of a blast cabinet: the containment structure, the abrasive blasting system and the dust collector. Most blast rooms have recycling systems ranging from manual sweeping and shoveling the abrasive back into the blast pot to full reclaim floors that convey the abrasive pneumatically or mechanically to a device that cleans the abrasive prior to recycling.

Media[edit]
In the early 1900s, it was assumed that sharp-edged grains provided the best performance, but this was later demonstrated not to be correct.[3] Mineral: Silica sand can be used as a type of mineral abrasive. It tends to break up quickly, creating large quantities of dust, exposing the operator to the potential development of silicosis, a debilitating lung disease. To counter this hazard, silica sand for blasting is often coated with resins to control the dust. Using silica as an abrasive is not allowed in Germany, United Kingdom,Sweden, or Belgium for this reason.[4] Another common mineral abrasive is garnet. Garnet is more expensive than silica sand, but if used correctly, will offer equivalent production rates while producing less dust and no safety hazards from ingesting the dust. Magnesium sulphate, or kieserite, is often used as an alternative to baking soda. Agricultural: Typically, crushed nut shells or fruit kernels. These soft abrasives are used to avoid damaging the underlying material such when cleaning brick or stone, removing graffiti, or the removal of coatings from printed circuit boards being repaired. Synthetic: This category includes corn starch, wheat starch, sodium bicarbonate, and dry ice. These "soft" abrasives are also used to avoid damaging the underlying material such when cleaning brick or stone, removing graffiti, or the removal of coatings from printed circuit boards being repaired. Sodablasting uses baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which is extremely friable, the micro fragmentation on impact exploding away surface materials without damage to the substrate.

Additional synthetic abrasives include process byproducts (e.g., copper slag, nickel slag, and coal slag), engineered abrasives (e.g., aluminum oxide, silicon carbide or carborundum, glass beads, ceramic shot/grit), and recycled products (e.g., plastic abrasive, glass grit). Metallic: Steel shot, steel grit, stainless steel shot, cut wire, copper shot, aluminum shot, zinc shot. Many coarser media used in sandblasting often result in energy being given off as sparks or light on impact. The colours and size of the spark or glow varies significantly, with heavy bright orange sparks from steel shot blasting, to a faint blue glow (often invisible in sunlight or brightly lit work areas) from garnet abrasive.

Safety[edit]

Worker sandblasting without the use of proper personal protective equipment. His face is covered with a bandana instead of a replaceable particulate filter respirator.

Cleaning operations using abrasive blasting can present risks for workers' health and safety, specifically in portable air blasting or blast room (booth) applications. Although many abrasives used in blasting rooms are not hazardous in themselves, (steel shot and grit, cast iron, aluminum oxide, garnet, plastic abrasive and glass bead), other abrasives (silica sand, copper slag, nickel slag, and staurolite) have varying degrees of hazard (typically free silica or heavy metals). However, in all cases their use can present serious danger to operators, such as burns due to projections (with skin or eyelesions), falls due to walking on round shot scattered on the ground, exposure to hazardous dusts, heat exhaustion, creation of an explosiveatmosphere, and exposure to excessive noise. Blasting rooms and portable blaster's equipment have been adapted to these dangers.[citation needed]Blasting lead-based paint can fill the air with lead particles which can be harmful to the nervous system.[5] In the US the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates engineered solutions to potential hazards, however silica sand continues to be allowed even though most commonly used blast helmets are not sufficiently effective at protecting the blast operator if ambient levels of dust exceed allowable limits. Adequate levels of respiratory protection for blast operations in the United States is approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Typical safety equipment for operators includes:

Positive pressure blast hood or helmet The hood or helmet includes a head suspension system to allow the device to move with the operator's head, a view window with replaceable lens or lens protection and an air-feed hose.

Grade-D air supply (or self-contained oil-less air pump) The air feed hose is typically attached to a grade-D pressurized air supply. Grade-D air is mandated by OSHA to protect the worker from hazardous gases. It includes a pressure regulator, air filtration and a carbon monoxide monitor/alarm. An alternative method is a self-contained, oil-less air pump to feed pressurized air to the blast hood/helmet. An oil-less air pump does not require an air filter or carbon monoxide monitor/alarm, because the pressurized air is coming from a source that cannot generate carbon monoxide.

Hearing protection ear muffs or ear plugs Body protection Body protection varies by application but usually consists of gloves and overalls or a leather coat and chaps. Professionals would wear a cordura/canvas blast suit (unless blasting with steel abrasives, then they would use a leather suit).

In the past, when sandblasting was performed as an open-air job, the worker was exposed to risk of injury from the flying material and lung damage from inhaling the dust. The silica dust produced in the sandblasting process would cause silicosis after sustained inhalation of the dust. In 1918, the first sandblasting enclosure was built, which protected the worker with a viewing screen, revolved around the workpiece, and used an exhaust fan to draw dust away from the worker's face.[6] Sandblasting also may present secondary risks, such as falls from scaffolding and absorption of lead particles when removing lead-based paint from infrastructure.[5] Several countries and territories now regulate sandblasting such that it may only be performed in a controlled environment using ventilation, protective clothing and breathing air supply.

Worn-look jeans[edit]
Many consumers are willing to pay extra for jeans that have the appearance of being used. To give the fabrics the right worn look sandblasting is used. Sandblasting has the risk of causingsilicosis to the workers, and in Turkey, more than 5,000 workers in the textile industry suffer from silicosis, and 46 people are known to have died from it. Sweden's Fair Trade Center conducted a survey among 17 textile companies that showed very few were aware of the dangers caused by manually sandblasting jeans. Several companies said they would abolish this technique from their own production.[7] In 2013, research claimed that in China some factories producing worn-look jeans are involved in varied non-compliance with health and safety regulations.[8]

Applications[edit]
The lettering and engraving on most modern cemetery monuments and markers is created by abrasive blasting.

Sandblasting can also be used to produce three-dimensional signage. This type of signage is considered to be a higher-end product as compared to flat signs. These signs often incorporate gold leaf overlay and sometimes crushed glass backgrounds which is called smalts. When sandblasting wood signage it allows the wood grains to show and the growth rings to be raised, and is popular way to give a sign a traditional carved look. Sandblasting can also be done on clear acrylic glass and glazing as part of a store front or interior design. Sandblasting can be used to refurbish buildings or create works of art (carved or frosted glass). Modern masks and resists facilitate this process, producing accurate results. Sandblasting techniques are used for cleaning boat hulls, as well as brick, stone, and concrete work. Sandblasting is used for cleaning industrial as well as commercial structures, but is rarely used for nonmetallic workpieces.