Sandblasting has been used for over a hundred years as a cleaning method, often as a way of priming surfaces for the application of paint or sealant products. By launching small bits of abrasive material at a surface at high speed, all imperfections are removed or can be easily washed off to create a very smooth surface for a new layer of paint or other material. There are two distinct types of sandblasters.
Any user with any level of experience can do wet sandblasting. The biggest advantage with wet sandblasting is that there is little or no dust, so it's ideal for jobs requiring closer proximity or an enclosed area. Wet blasting is slower but has the advantage of using less sandblasting medium. Eye protection is required, but little else in the way of safety gear is necessary. Common uses include home restoration, antique repair, metal refurbishing and graffiti removal from brick or stone.
A dry sandblaster requires more skill to use, special equipment, and a greater focus on safety. Protection of the user is critical, and due to the amount of airborne debris from the dry blasting, eye protection, heavy clothing and respiratory gear for fresh air is needed. Dry sandblasting requires more cleanup, so it is better suited for outdoor projects like large storage tanks, bridges, water towers, and marine equipment. Sand is not the only medium used, however, but it does clean very quickly. Other mediums include crushed shells, steel shot, plastic particles and glass.
Sandblasters are also used to etch or carve designs and words into glass or similar materials. It is a popular replacement for time-consuming hand etching and expensive laser etching. For etching, abrasive is blasted lightly to turn the glass semi-opaque and produce words or images. Adjusting the speed and angle of blasting creates different shades. Carving into glass is done by covering the glass with a stencil and then blasting abrasive at high levels to achieve the desired effect.
Sandblasters propel fine particles of an abrasive material at high velocities to clean a surface or remove anything clinging to it. A typical sandblaster consists of three different parts: the abrasive itself, an air compressor, and a blaster gun. For small object cleaning a workstation to hold the item to be cleaned is needed, as is some form of collector for excess dust if used indoors. The cost of sandblasting equipment depends on the project requiring it. Small setups can be arranged for less than £520, while professional level systems cost in the thousands.
Artificial sandblasting is a very common process in many industries and in personal situations. As a process, successful sandblasting should be done under controlled conditions, with adequate ventilation or respiration by individuals with at least moderate experience levels.
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