Abrasive blasting is a process which used in many industries to clean and shine different objects. The equipment that is used is a high power “gun” which is used to direct abrasive blasting media at the surface of the object in question.
The abrasive material, often simply called the “media” is stored under high pressure. There are many different media used; silica sand is by far the most popular but ground glass grit, glass beads, plastic beads, walnut shells etc. The choice of media is based on the desired outcome and task. The blasting equipment is equipped with a hopper to contain the media, this media then travels by hose under pressure to the nozzle.
Abrasive blasting equipment can be huge with the process completely enclosed in a separate building. Conversely, there are also portable abrasive blasters that are not much larger than a back pack; the small units usually only work with a given media whereas larger machines can use various media. In large installations the media is reclaimed and sent through the system a number of times until it looses its sharpness which is necessary to clean or polish the object.
There are many different applications for abrasive blasting that cover the gamut from cleaning and polishing to paint removal. abrasive blasting is used extensively in shipyards to clean and prepare the ship’s hull for painting or to bring the hull back to bare metal for repainting at scheduled intervals. Blasting can be used to clean concrete and stone, it can also be used to engrave glass and stone. Abrasive blasting is often used to remove unsightly graffiti off walls, remove paint from automobiles and aircraft or clean the calcium buildup that is often seen around swimming pools.
A major advantage of abrasive blasting is the fact that the surface can be cleaned without damage, depending of course on the media. Large surfaces can be cleaned quickly and more thorough than other cleaning methods such as wire brushes and rotating wire wheels. With the correct blasting equipment even the most hard to reach areas can be cleaned.
It is important that the individual doing the actual blasting takes steps to protect him as well as those who may be working close by. Certain media, silica sand for example creates a great deal of dust. Modern blasting equipment includes dust collectors but even at that the operator will wear eye and ear protection.
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