Sandblasting and shot blasting abrasive media materials

Each different sandblast and shot blast abrasive media material has its own qualities beyond shape, size, hardness and density. Media material selection primarily depends on the surface being prepared or treated, not necessarily on the type of abrasive equipment being used. Here are the common abrasive media materials you’ll find in sandblasting and shot blasting operations:

  • Steel shot and steel grit:For heavy-duty jobs, nothing beats steel abrasives. Steel shot is round while steel grit has an angular shape.
  • Glass beads:Soft surfaces require a gentle abrasive. Glass beads made from soda-lime are one of the softest abrasive media materials on the market.
  • Black Beauty:This is a coal slag material. Black Beauty is extremely coarse and suitable for heavy rust and paint removal.
  • Aluminum oxide: For hard surfaces that require fine polishing, aluminum oxide is a perfect media. It’s hard, reusable and low-cost.
  • Silicon carbide: The hardest abrasive blasting material available today is silicon carbide. This media comes in sizes ranging from fine powder to coarse grit.
  • Staurolite: This is a mineral-based media made from metamorphic rock. Staurolite produces less dust than other media which makes it easier for blasting operators to see their work.
  • Plastics: Abrasives made from plastic vary in size, shape, hardness and density. Plastic materials include polystyrene and polycarbonate. They’re ideally suited for fiberglass treatment.
  • Walnut shells:Black walnut shells are excellent abrasives for soft metal and plastic surfaces. Walnut shells are inexpensive and readily available as well as being compostable.
  • Corn cobs: Like walnut shells, corn cobs are soft organic abrasives. They’re used on delicate surfaces to remove contaminants like grease, oil and grime rather than rust and paint.
  • Sand: Some sandblasting operations still use sand. However, the health hazards outweigh any abrasive advantages. OSHA highly regulates silica sand exposure to workers.
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