Sandblasting is a type of abrasive blasting process that propels materials at a high pressure to smooth out rough surfaces. The term sandblast equipment applies to a number of devices designed to use sand to clean or resurface industrial products and components. Using pressurized water, compressed air or centrifugal wheels, the capabilities of these machines greatly expand industrial cleaning possibilities.
Sandblasters can be used to remove coatings, roughen smooth surfaces, smooth rough surfaces, etch, carve, degrease, deburry, peen, deflash and descale a number of industrial apparatuses made of metal, wood, plastic and glass. Such versatility allows heavy use of these mechanisms in automotive, shipbuilding, construction, agriculture, industrial cleaning and processing, aerospace, decorative design, woodworking and glass industries. Both heavy duty and precision parts are easily resurfaced using sandblast equipment. Automated blasting systems are used for precision parts such as nuts, bolts, decorative glass, printed circuit boards and engine components which are mounted on a conveyor and moved through a blast cabinet. Portable sand blasters, which may be automated or hand operated, can be brought to a worksite for use on larger constructs such as ships, bridges, building components, aircraft and heat exchangers. In addition to portability and degree of automation, abrasive media selection, surface condition, size, shape, weight, finish specifications, media flow and blast pressure should all be carefully considered when selecting the proper piece of equipment for a given sandblasting application.
Though specific machines may vary, common components of sandblaster equipment include a power supply, pressure generators and air compressors, crankshafts and plunger pumps, abrasive injectors, blast cabinets, blaster nozzles, a vessel to hold the abrasive media and in some instances dust collection units or media separators. After the propellant, either gas or liquid, is pressurized pumps and crankshafts move it through the blasting equipment in order to pull or push abrasive media out of a containment vessel and through a nozzle. The head of the nozzle then directs this high pressured slurry toward the surface which is to be treated. Although sandblasting has become the popular term for this particular type of machinery, media blasting is more applicable as silica sand is only one of the many types of both rounded and angular abrasives frequently used. Alternative materials include balled, ground, flaked or granulated particulates of such diverse materials as aluminum, carbide, ceramic, copper, glass, iron, gold, plastic, steel, wood, acrylic, baking soda, silica and even nut shells and fruit kernels. The intended or required abrasive media should be an important consideration when selecting sandblast equipment as some have multi-media capabilities while others are media specific. Grit, bead and shot blasters as well as shot peening and soda blasting equipment are specific types of sandblasting machines that should be considered in relation to the intended goals of the process.