Abrasive blasting, more commonly known as sandblasting, 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 compressed air, or a centrifugal wheel is used to propel the blasting material (often called the media). Sandblasting can be done in a closed or open environment, and can be used for a variety of purposes from cleaning buildings, removing coatings, pre-wearing denim, and more.
There are a variety of medias and methods that are used in different sandblasting applications. Each method and media combination has it’s own uses and benefits. Dry ice blasting for instance uses compressed air and crushed dry ice to blast surfaces. This has multiple benefits including no cleanup, as the dry ice pellets evaporate once used, it is environmentally friendly, there is no residual dust, and no fluid or solvents.
In a shop environment, the most common type of sandblasting is done in a compressed air cabinet. Typically one or a few types of aggregates are used, depending on how aggressive the blasting operation is intended to be. This aggregate is accelerated by a stream of compressed air and directed towards the part being processed. This process can be used for removing rust from steel before other operations, to remove coats of paint from an old part being repaired, to deburr rough metal edges, and more. Depending on the severity of the corrosion, thickness of paint, etc, sandblasting is typically a very efficient process that removes old surface contaminants quickly while having little to no effect on the integrity of the part being process. This is why sandblasting is a fast and cost effective methodology for a variety of applications requiring surface preparation.