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Sandblasting: What is it, and How does it work?

Industrial and commercial equipment go through a series of paint or coating jobs for smooth operations with added durability. These equipment need to have a protective coating in order to perform for a long duration.

But re-coating or re-painting a surface isn't as simple as spraying powder or applying paint on surfaces as and when you think it's time for refinishing. You have to strip the old paint away and clean the surface of dirt and debris to prep them effectively before painting.

This is where sandblasting comes in, which is the most commonly used process to strip paint away from machinery and metal and create a smooth and even texture. A smooth and even texture is essential to repainting your metals.

In this blog, we'll talk about sandblasting, its methodology, benefits, and how much it will cost to avail of the services.

What is Sandblasting?

Sandblasting, more archaically known as abrasive blasting, is a process for surface finishing where a powered machine sprays abrasive particles, like sand, onto a metal surface under high pressure. As the name suggests, sandblasting is blasting sand on a metal surface (spraying under high pressure). The sand particles come into contact with the surface and create an even and smoother texture owing to their abrasive properties.

Sandblasting is majorly used to strip old paint away from surfaces, though they have a number of other applications.

Sandblasting has become a reliable finishing process to create smoother surfaces with near physical perfection. Sand is gritty, which makes it abrasive and capable of wearing away unwanted to excess material from a surface. A typical application of this can be seen with sandpaper, which is used in households to remove the top layer from any surface. Sandpaper utilizes the qualities of sand to a similar effect as we see with sandblasting. The only difference is that sandblasting uses high-pressure sand to even out surfaces.


How Does Sandblasting Work?

In a nutshell, sandblasting works by propelling fine sand at high pressure using compressed air through a nozzle at high velocities.

The first step for sandblasting includes placing abrasives or sand into the cylinder. Next, the pressured air is sprayed through a nozzle on the surface that's to be sandblasted.

The nozzle is used to control the temperature and pressure and adjust the angle at which the sand will be blasted onto surfaces. There are two kinds of machines used for sandblasting:

  • Suction Blasters

    The object to be blasted is placed in a cabinet, then subjected to high-pressure air and sand. The dust collector removes all dust from the cabinet.

  • Pressure blast system

    Pressure blast systems use silica sands stored in large containers under high pressure.

Pressure blast systems are much more effective and easier to use than the suction/siphon method. They're also quicker than the latter. It includes a gun on the upper portion of the container with a house that can withstand the abrasive sand properties.

The gun is fired, creating a suction that pulls sand into the gun, which can be reused and placed back onto the container.

What Does Sandblasting Do?

Pretreatment of a metal surface has quite a lot of impact on the penultimate coating job. Before any surface is powder coated, painted, dye cast, or anodized, it needs to be cleaned or pretreated. This process, mainly referred to as pretreatment or prepping up the surface, is like laying down the groundwork before the actual paint or coating job.

This is why sandblasting is used predominantly as a surface treatment process. Sandblasting cleans the surfaces of dust and rust particles to make them suitable for the post-processes of layering.

A sandblasting machine removes rust, grease, oil, and dark scales that form or accumulate on metal surfaces. When exposed to a bare atmosphere, these metal surfaces undergo oxidation, resulting in rust or scales developing on them. Sandblasting removes all unwanted accumulations from surfaces and makes them suitable for powder coating or painting for a smooth and brand-new appearance.

Originally used to sharpen tools made of wood, glass, metal, and concrete, sandblasting is today the most preferred choice for preparing substrates for painting.

Sandblasting is so widely used in industrial applications, particularly due to its effectiveness in preparing surfaces for painting. The pressurized sand travels at a high velocity and ensures that finer matter of dust and grime is thoroughly removed from metal, concrete, brick, and other surfaces.

Apart from this, sandblasting is also used to smoothen surfaces and refresh concrete and bricks. This property makes it ideal for renewing sidewalks, doors, and even roofs.

Benefits of Sandblasting

So far, we've learned that sandblasting is used as a pretreatment for surface coating or painting jobs. But how does sandblasting benefit certain products before powder coating? And what does it mean for your business? Below are some advantages of sandblasting for your business:

  • Effective Cleaning of Surfaces

    A significant benefit of sandblasting is that it has dual properties of not just smoothing a surface but also cleaning it thoroughly. Sandblast materials remove oil stains, rust, and any other harmful contaminants on the surface.

  • Quick Downtime

    You'd be surprised at how sandblasting works. It can efficiently finish, clean, and smoothen objects, making handling more convenient. Your surfaces will be properly cleaned and prepped in just a few minutes.

  • Removes Old Paint

    Sometimes an object has to be stripped of its paint before a new paint job. Sandblasting quickly removes old paint at high speeds and makes the object smooth for a fresh new coat of paint or powder.

  • Saves Time and Money

    Lastly, sandblasting saves time and money, both of which are essential aspects for any business. You don't have to worry about patches of dirt or paint left on the surface after sandblasting. This efficiency and reliability make sandblasting an economically viable solution for pretreatment.

How Much Does Sandblasting Cost?

The price of sandblasting in New Jersey depends on the size of the surface that's to be cleaned. On average, you'd have to incur $2-$5 per square foot. However, many factors come into play, like the sandblasting method used, surface type to be treated, type of application, etc., which may raise the price as high as $16 per square foot.

Most contractors charge by foot because the larger the surface to be sandblasted, the more men and materials are needed.

Sometimes, the contractor would charge by the hour, including the cost of media, instead of per square foot, simply because charging by area wouldn't cover the time-consuming process of sandblasting small automotive parts like rims and chassis.

Another factor that influences price is the intensity of sandblasting to be used. Sandblasting intensity is tuned as per the cleaning they're to provide. You can choose between light, medium, and heavy-duty sandblasting. Depending on the number of layers to be removed, the intensity of sandblasting is adjusted, and the price also varies.

It should also be noted here that sandblasting certain surfaces like iron and concrete will cost you more than wood or brick.

Can I Sandblast By My Own?

Even though widely used across manufacturing, automotive and architectural industries, sandblasting is immensely dangerous and should only be carried out by a professional. This is because of the toxic silica to which the person carrying out sandblasting will be exposed. Silica is life-threatening; thus, a professional will ensure to incorporate all safety precautions to prevent inhaling the toxic silica by any medium.

Toxic silica is known to cause significant lung diseases and injuries when a person is exposed to it. Apart from the risk to life involved, a professional will also carry out sandblasting properly with the right equipment and gear for a near-perfect job.

When you hire experts to get the job done, you can rest assured that they have all the necessary stuff to get the job done without any risk of injury or illness.

Where Can I Get Sandblasting Near Me?

Powder coating or painting is required to protect your products while making them visually attractive. Sandblasting is a necessary precursor to clean those surfaces before a coating job.

Rusty Lions offers professional powder coating services and sandblasting services in New Jersey. We're the one-stop shop for all your coating needs. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our high-quality coating and finishing services.

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