There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether sandblasting or shot blasting is better. There are many variables involved in the abrasive blasting treatment business. The best method depends on the surface you’re treating and the type of finish you expect.
Sandblasting is typically a smoother and less invasive abrasion process. However, that also depends on the compressed air pressure you use and the abrasive media material you select. Because sandblasting is less forceful than shot blasting, it’s much more forgiving. With light pressure and soft media materials like organics or glass, you can treat very sensitive surfaces with little risk of accidental damage.
Sandblasting is the ideal solution for cleaning delicate electronic parts or connectors that have corroded. You have many media options with sandblasting such as aluminum oxide that cuts through surface contamination and leaves the undersurface clean but totally intact. For more abrasion with sandblasting, you can step-up to silicon carbide as a media without worrying about over-doing it.
Shotblasting has its place when you require deep abrasive penetration on denser materials. Where sandblasting might be too gentle and time-consuming for treating gears and shafts, shot blasting will quickly prepare thick and heavy surfaces like metal hulls and truck hubs.
Shotblasting lends itself well to coarse abrasion media like steel shot and steel grit. These are heavy-duty media materials that pound into a surface to loosen caked-on rust or baked-on pollution. You might have heard discussions about shot peening vs shot blasting. Peening is a metallurgical term for pounding metal to increase strength and durability. Shotblasting is actually a peening process used for tougher surfaces than what you’d treat by sandblasting.
The fair answer about whether shot blasting is better than sandblasting is best left to the finishing expert and what an informed consumer expects with their finished product. To summarize, sandblasting is quick and economical. Shotblasting is a more involved treatment process and uses more advanced equipment. Therefore, shot blasting is slower and generally more expensive than sandblasting. However, there are jobs that sandblasting can’t handle. Then, your only option is to go for shot blasting.
The sandblasting and shot blasting processes use two different equipment types. Both types offer effective methods for preparing surfaces. Normally, these are metal finishing techniques like rust removal, scaling, deburring and general cleaning done before applying a finish coat. Both forms of abrasive blasting propel streams of abrasive media against the product’s surface. They just employ two separate systems called air blast and air wheel equipment.