Choosing the Best Material for Sandblasting

Man sandblasting concrete

Sandblasting is a technique used to create a smooth surface in preparation for new treatment.
When you are ready to embark on your sandblasting project, you will have to pick the most suitable sandblasting material for whatever surface you’re smoothing out.
While you may think that all sandblasting uses, well, sand, that is actually becoming less often the case as companies are moving away from the use of sand due to health, quality control and maintenance issues.
The products that are used for sandblasting are called mediums, and your decision should be based on how difficult the removal will be, how durable your product is, and how much pressure it can withstand.
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Standard media include pumice, walnut shells, corn cobs, glass beads, crushed glass grit, plastic beads and silicon carbide.  One of the most cutting edge techniques involves the use of dry ice. Compact dry ice pellets are shot through a jet of compressed air. This method is being used to clean machinery, electromechanical equipment and other sensitive surfaces that would be damaged by more aggressive methods.

What Do I Use For What?

If you are trying to remove paint from wood, the best medium to use is pumice as it is very soft and won’t damage your product.
Walnut shells and corn cobs are the least abrasive mediums.  You would be wise to start with them if you are uncertain about how the product you want to sandblast will hold up.  You can always move up a level in your medium, but if you start with something too strong, the damage is done.
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Do you want an end product that gleams in the light? Glass beads represent your best choice for this application. They are typically made from fine soda-lime glass, are recyclable, and can be used up to 100 times without needing to be replaced. So they rank high in the “good for the environment” category. You can also get crushed glass grit which is made from 100 percent recycled glass bottles.
If you are working with mechanical or automotive parts, use plastic beads. They are made out of acrylic, polyester, melamine, and urea. Plastic beads can deliver a fast and effective stripping rate without damaging the underlying material.
The toughest jobs require the use of silicon carbide, which is the hardest medium available to date. Shorter blast times result in lower labor costs and silicon carbide can also be used multiple times.

Famous Last Words in Sandblasting

Remember, you can always move up a level in the use of mediums, but if you start with something too strong, the damage has been done. Contact Coating Systems to make sure your sandblasting job is done properly.