how does a sandblaster work

How Does a Sandblaster Work?

A sandblaster can scrape rust and dirt and can blast old paint until you see the core. This is the best tool for fast and efficient results. If you want to restore items damaged by rust, grime, dirt, and years of misuse, a sandblaster will do the job. But how does a sandblaster work? 

Sandblaster behind the scenes

Sandblasting is using sand to clean surfaces, usually metal surfaces. Sandblasting can also be used to create a rough surface on a newly cleaned metal surface.  The material or agent used to sandblast metal objects is garnet sand or corundum. These agents hit the surface of metals using extreme pressure and this helps remove the outer layer of the metal. Usually, the surface of the metal is determined by the type of abrasive agent and the degree of cleaning will depend on the surface protection added. 

The many uses of a sandblaster

Sandblasters offer a variety of uses including the following:

  • Rust removal
  • Scale and moldy soil removal from vehicles
  • Old paint layer removal from wood
  • Matting preparations
  • Burr removal and polishing
  • Painting preparation and pre-application of anti-corrosion agents
  • Decorating effects on concrete, wood, and metal

As you can see, a sandblaster has many uses and on top of these, you get to clean the material before you work on it. 

The components of a sandblaster

To learn how does a sandblaster work, you need to familiarize yourself with the different parts and components of sandblasting equipment. All kinds of sandblasters have an air compressor, an accumulative receiver, a pistol (the main tool), abrasive particles container, connecting hoses, and automation and control systems. As you can see, most of the parts of a sandblaster are comparable to components of a spray gun.

First, the air is collected to the compressor and pressure builds inside. When the maximum level is reached, the excess air enters the pistol. Vacuum starts to form as air draws in the sand. The eroding or abrasive particles become accelerated until these reach 40 m/s. Air, mixed with the abrasive particles exit from the nozzle of the pistol. 

The main part of the system is the compressor which provides compressed air. Usually, the speed may be adjusted to suit different tasks. The nozzle of the pistol helps direct and fine-tune the stream of air and particles. The material of choice is tungsten carbide and boron. Do not use cast iron or ceramic nozzles as these won’t last. 

Sandblasters also come with cables and a power supply. The control panel lets you power on the equipment and lets you remain in an idle setting. The hose for every sandblaster varies and these must be strong enough to withstand pressure. These hoses come with different diameters and these affect the performance of the sandblaster equipment.

Sandblasters operate in the same principles. These machines use silica sand to clean and scrub metal surfaces. The gun is mostly ceramic and comes with an interior coating that reduces the liquefaction of sand. The pistol shoots compressed air and sand on the treated surface. This happens at very high speeds. 

The gun is connected to a tank that is connected to the air compressor. The material which is silica sand or abrasive sand is placed in the tank. These materials are dry and filter with varying grain sizes. 

Some tips for easy sandblasting

Sandblasting can be done using a pressure washer however, the effects are not immediately seen because the sand and water mix do not show a clear view of the surface especially when you’re working on floors. Meanwhile compressed air sandblasting lets you easily examine your work as you move the pistol over the material. 

So when sandblasting with water and sand, rinse the area with clean water so you can check the effects. If you need to repeat the steps, do so. 

The pressurized air moves through the gun and sucks the sand which hits the material you want to treat. Sandblasters work far better than sandpaper as it’s faster, more efficient and can work even on irregular surfaces. 

The compressor must be set at 8 bars at full capacity for the best results. Always keep the stream of air and sand in an angled position and never in a perpendicular position. A sandblaster can work on almost any surface but never on plastic material. If you’re using a sandblaster, learn how to use the pistol on a metal area, not too much on a single area as you may only end up removing the delicate material on the surface. 

Sandblaster cleaning and maintenance

Like all other equipment, a sandblaster needs proper care so it will last a long time. Here are some tips to help you maintain your sandblasting equipment at home or work.

  • Clean your sandblasting cabinet using a vacuum cleaner. Remove all dirt and contaminants from the cabinet and on the surface of the sandblasting equipment. This is very important especially when you’re working on lead paint, rust, and age-old grime.
  • Dispose of all blasting media from the cabinet using a small brush. 
  • Use a degreaser which is a cleaning product to clean the sandblaster cabinet. Do not use plain detergent or dishwashing liquid and water. Doing so can lead to soapy buildup in the cabinet. 
  • Clean all the components of your sandblaster especially those that come in contact with dirt and contaminants. This will make sure that your equipment will work properly and produce great results the next time you use them. Use the same cleaning material on the different components. 
  • Use only compatible sandblaster parts and accessories. Check the equipment instruction manual for correct parts and component numbers.   

Now that you know how does a sandblaster work, you may now put your knowledge to the test. There are so many amazing uses of a sandblaster, from cleaning to finishing different materials. You’ll surely be surprised how many things you can do with it. Be sure to properly care for your equipment and to use only correct, compatible parts and accessories for the best results.

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