Sandblasting – A Look at the Process and Its Many Applications

sandblasting Singapore

*10 Minutes Read

Are you looking for some sandblasting services for your business or products? It is imperative that you understand the sandblasting process, how it can be applied to your products, and what are some of the sandblasting methods that you can use before your start to use this procedure.

What is Sandblasting? 

Sandblasting is often used as a generic term in Singapore for abrasive blasting. Sometimes it is also called grit blasting. These terms describe a process that involves a high-speed rotating fluid that carries blasting particles or materials, also known as media, through the blast hole, to:

  1. smooth, shape and clean a particular rough surface under high pressure.
  2. remove dust and other particulate matter from the surface of various materials such as metals, concrete, glass, stone, brick, wood, plastic, painted surfaces and various coatings.

Very similar to that of using sandpaper, such sandblasting services provide a more even and professional finish to the end products.

Sandblasting Medium Used 

Patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman on 18 October 1870, sandblasting uses various medium or media that ranges from mildly abrasive to highly abrasive. The types used can be daunting initially, as there are many variety of particles that can be used, such as silicate, stone, plastic, metal or organic. Every medium performs their individual tasks extremely well due to their key abrasive properties, measured in terms of shape, size, hardness and density. Hence, different medium achieves a different type of finishing or outcome. 

The most abrasive process variant is shot blasting, which uses steel abrasives like a metal or steel shot and then sandblasting, which uses mainly sand. One milder abrasive material used is baking soda, a process we called soda blasting. Another abrasive blasting material is ice or dry-ice, which we called ice blasting, dry blasting or dry-ice blasting. 

Other abrasive methods that are less abrasive include glass bead blasting, where glass beads are used, and plastic media blasting (PMB), where plastic abrasives such as ground-up plastic stock or walnut shells and corn cobs are used.

There is also a process called ‘wet blasting’ (also known as vapormatting, wet abrasive blasting, vapor blasting, vapor honing, dustless blasting or slurry blasting), which uses liquid to enhance the levels of surface finish that can be achieved, usually used for cleaning or finishing effects. 

Sandblasting Equipment 

Sandblasting machines come in all shapes, sizes and configurations, ranging from small blasting sets to huge industrial units used for automobile assembly lines. But usually, it involves a power sander or a sandblaster with blasting chambers, where air and sand are mixed together. The medium are then forced down a motorised nozzle, which can be of different shapes, materials and sizes, towards the surface that we want to sandblast. A popular material used for nozzles is boron carbide, a very hard boron-carbon ceramic and covalent material used in tank armours, bulletproof vests and other industrial applications, as it can resist abrasive wear very well. As the abrasive medium on the nozzle smoothens the surface, the extra portion that are not needed are ejected through an exhaust port.

Blast pots, which expose abrasive medium to the right pressure to blast surfaces at a high velocity, are sometimes used for sandblasting projects. 

A centrifugal blast wheel is used in wheel blasting, an abrasive method which uses an airless blasting operation, where the abrasive material is propelled by the wheel using a controlled centrifugal force, towards the surface of your product. Wheel blasting is used usually to remove contaminants like sand on foundry pieces, old coatings or mill scale, strengthen the material, or create an anchor profile. Shot peening and etching are just a few other reasons to use wheel blasting. 

Applications of Sandblasting 

An efficient, economical and fast process, sandblasting has been used to clean industrial and commercial structures for more than a hundred years, especially in industries such as the automobile, shipping, metalworking, architectural and medical industries.

In such industries, sandblasting is a great way to smoothen and clean surfaces such as metal, stone, wood, plastic, steel and stainless steel, granite, aluminum and others of rust, debris and irregularities. Here are a few useful sandblasting and abrasive blasting applications.

(A) Removes Paint and Corrosion 

It is common knowledge that it is very difficult to remove paint and corrosion marks using traditional cleaning techniques. Sandblasting can be used as a paint removal tool to remove stubborn paint and rush and also other contaminants from surfaces such as cars, ships, boats, machinery and buildings.

In special circumstances such as fire damages to buildings and structures, sandblasting can be an effective tool to remove soot and staining from smoke.

(B) Prepares Different Surfaces for Coating 

Sandblasting is also an excellent choice to prepare different surfaces for coating, such as a new coat of paint. For example, after sandblasting has cleaned the surface and remove it of any contaminants, as we have mentioned above, it is now ready for painting, hydro dipping (aka hydrographic), bonding or some other coating processes. It is critical to prepare any surface for these activities as substandard surfaces will lead to an uneven coating or painting and reduce the lifespan of the paint or coating, resulting in a waste of your money.

For example, the metalworking industry uses sandblasting to remove rough areas on the metal surfaces of equipment or parts that have irregularities, tags, burrs or blemishes, so that welders will have a good surface for painting.

In the automobile and shipping sector, sandblasting techniques are used to remove rust or paint on cars, boats or ships that need to be repainted. The process is mild enough to just strip off the paint without affecting the metal that is underneath it. Do note however, that sandblasting is rarely used for non-metallic workpieces.

(C) Smoothens and Polishes Devices 

Sandblasting can be used for polishing and smoothing surfaces of devices, leaving the surfaces shiny, bright and glossy. For example, the metalworking industry uses it to remove rough areas on surfaces of mechanical parts made of metal and plastic that have irregularities, tags, burrs or blemishes, so that the parts can be easily assembled.

This abrasive blasting method can also be used to smoothen the edges of products to achieve a certain shape too.

(D) Creates Signage 

Sandblasting can also be used for smaller projects such as signage made from wood, glass or stone, as it has more depth than laser engraving, enabling you to add colours to highlight your designs.

Many businesses use this technique to showcase their branding such as logos or business names. For instance, in the retail sector, sandblasting can be used to smoothen and polish three-dimensional, carved signage, which can be acrylic glass, plastic or metal, such as those used for professional storefronts or interior design and decoration. Sandblasting is also used to create the lettering and engraving on <opening ceremonial plaques>, most modern cemetery monuments and markers.

(E) Cleans Concrete Surfaces 

The sandblasting process is also used to clean streets, walkways, pavements and other concrete surfaces to reduce the possibility of accidents on the streets. This method actually effectively achieves the end objective without wasting water.

The architectural industry also uses this method to clean and refurbish buildings, while the medical industry uses abrasive blasting to clean equipment such as cardiac pacemakers and surgical tools.

(F) Creates Works of Art 

Sandblasting can be used to create impressive works of art. Skilled artisans have been known to use sandblasters on wood, metal, glass, crystals, stones and other surfaces to create signs, statues and other wonderful pieces of art, such as crystal trophies and crystal plaques.

Talented artists often use this abrasive blasting to carve intricate patterns on different materials and surfaces such as glass, wood, metal and other materials, improving the aesthetic value of lacklustre commercial properties. Architects also use it to create sculptures.

(G) Cleans Small Tools and Devices 

Sandblasting can also be used to clean small tools and devices such as tools used for automobiles and other machinery, such as rusty screwdrivers, spanners, pliers and wrenches.

You can also sandblast machinery that are clogged with oil, dirt and grease to make sure they function properly.

sandblasting services
The sandblasting process

(H) Removes Mold and Mildew 

Sandblasting is a new technique used to remove mold and mildew. Mild abrasive blasting such as sodablasting or dry-ice blasting is sometimes used to remove mold and mildew from structures, ornamental landscaping or even in homes, with minimal damage and clean-up needed. This usually works best on wood in a structure that has been damaged by water, resulting in a good surface for resealing, staining and/or painting.

(I) Removes Oil Stains 

Oil stains on concrete floors can be unsightly and difficult to clean and pose a safety hazard for pedestrians. A sandblaster can quickly remove oil stains and restore the concrete floors to its original state and colour.

At home and in your garage, driveways can become stained with grease and oil over time. An alternative method of abrasive blasting, such as wet blasting with water and cleansers, can help break down the stains and restore your driveways to their original state.

(J) Restores Authentic Look of Bricks and Stones 

Sandblasting is a smarter and more efficient solution than painting to restore the authentic look of bricks and stones. For example, it can be used to improve the appearance of residential and commercial properties and increases their longevity by removing unnecessary cement, paint, mortar and other debris and substances.

Advantages of Sandblasting 

Sandblasting is a very easy, efficient and time-saving process, resulting in even surfaces. It is also quite an affordable method as it mostly uses sand or other affordable materials which are available in abundance worldwide.

This method is also very powerful that it can even remove tough and difficult stains and irregularities on many surfaces such as concrete, and can even be used for corners and geometrical areas effortlessly.

Sandblasting also need not involve very complex machinery.

Disadvantages of Sandblasting 

Of course, even though sandblasting is a highly effective method for many applications, it also has several disadvantages. Sandblasting is not suitable for smooth surfaces because of the abrasives being used, but in this case, you can replace it with sodablasting instead. The abrasives used, being rough, will wear away the smooth surfaces.

Otherwise, sandblasting equipment might not be easily available and accessible, and it is not economic for small projects.

Conclusion: Sandblasting Services Available

Sandblasting, grit blasting, media blasting or abrasive blasting all refers to the same process of surface preparation, with the only difference being the type of abrasive used to perform the surface treatments. Sandblasting is economical and effective for many industrial and commercial use, but before the process, you should understand the products and its materials or surfaces that you need to clean, smoothen or shape, and the pros and cons of the process itself so as to get the best out of it.

At Million, we understand every intricacy of the sandblasting process, and can advise you on what is the best procedure to achieve the type of finishing you are looking for in your products. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our sandblasting services!000

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