If you are reclaiming and reusing your blast media, then you need to maintain a healthy blast media work mix. Having too coarse or too fine of a work mix can cause inconsistent or damaged surface finishes. The best way to ensure a consistent and quality surface finish is through maintaining a healthy blast media work mix.
Signs of A Bad Work Mix
Process is moving slowly.
A proper work mix contains a mixture of various sized abrasives. This distribution of sizes provides for maximum cleaning in the shortest amount of time.
There is a lot of dust in your process.
The fine dust particles are not being pulled out by the reclaimer/dust collector properly.
Inconsistent surface finish.
Whether the part is needing a smooth finish or being prepped for coating, having an even surface is important. If your blasting is producing an inconsistent finish, you should check your media mix by screening.
Benefits of Using A Healthy Blast Media Mix
There are many benefits to utilizing a blend of sizes in your blasting operation. Some of those benefits include:
Reduce waste of your blast media by ensuring it is working as efficiently as possible, ultimately saving you money.
Produce high quality finishes on a consistent basis.
Increase productivity through a quicker blasting operation. An efficient work mix will achieve the desired finish faster than an inconsistent mix.
How To Achieve & Maintain An Efficient Work Mix
Monitor your work mix through regular screening
There are a lot of factors that cause a media to break down quickly or slowly such as the type of abrasive used, the starting particle size and PSI used while blasting. Since there can be many factors that affect the rate of media breakdown, it is a good idea to regularly screen your media so you can tell where your system stands. This is turn will help you make adjustments that will provide a consistent quality finish.
If you don’t have screening capabilities, we can help at our lab at Midvale Industries.
Regularly add new media to the mix
Frequently adding small media additions will keep larger particles fed into the system to replace the spent media that is being removed. The amount of blasting you do per day will help determine how frequently you should add new media.
Adding a large amount of new media at the end of the current media cycle will throw off your work mix. This creates an inconsistent mix and results.
Check your dust collector
If you find usable media in the dust collector, make adjustments to the reclaimer and/or dust collector that will dampen the system and stop pulling good media through.
Is there dust in your work mix?
Then it’s time to adjust the reclaim/dust collector system the opposite way and pull spent media and other dusts out of the system.
One of the disadvantages with soda blasting in a cabinet has always been visibility. Soda is dusty and without a cabinet that can move air through it quickly (especially near the viewing window), visibility can be challenging. Clemco Industries has released their High Performance Bicarbonator System (the video above was shot in this cabinet). In the video above even at 80 PSI visibility is not a problem like it has been in the past particularly at higher pressures. The cabinet has unique features including its Clearview high ventilation technology that evacuates the media out of the cabinet before dust clouds can build up in it. There are modifications to the blast pot to keep media agitated to prevent it from clumping up if moisture gets in the system from compressed air.
Soda Blasting Formulations
Not all baking soda is equal! Midvale offers Armex made by Church and Dwight the premier sodium bicarbonate for blasting. We have partnered with Armex, to offer our customers high quality soda that is sized for consistency and because multiple formulations are available for specific applications and industrial conditions. Formulations include those with flow agents where humidity is a concern, larger crystal formulations for more aggressive products, and blends with aluminum oxide for particular automotive remanufacturing applications.
Advantages of Soda Blasting
Soda blasting has always been a good option for the automotive parts remanufacturing industry. Some of the advantages of using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for blasting are as follows.
Soda is non-destructive to most surfaces because it is softer than the surface substrate but harder than the coating or containment (grease, carbon, etc) it is removing
Crack detention is made easier because it does not fold metal edges over cracks when blasting
Unlike other abrasive that can get trapped in small passages in a part and later cause part failure, baking soda dissolves in liquids and can be circulated through the part without damage
It preserves the surface integrity and dimensional integrity of the part
Works well in wet blasting system, enabling it to wash the part without the use of potential harsh solvents and chemicals
Distinct Advantages of Green Diamond Shell Sand Recyclability/Reclamation – Green Diamond Shell Sand can be utilized as a molding sand, without the need to discard to a landfill.
Better finish, virtually no thermal expansion (decrease machining time, increase tooling life)
Eliminate silica contamination/no free silica
Faster cure times/lower box temperatures
Reduction of overall shell sand used/Easier shake-out
The First Blasting Robot That Does Not Need To Be Programmed
The Future of Blasting
The Alpha 1 autonomous blasting robot by SABRE offers a new groundbreaking way to abrasive blast. It incorporates a six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) robotic arm equipped with a 3D sensor that can scan, map, and blast complex environments, removing the human operator from the work space.
The ALPHA1 by SABRE was created for use in the field on industrial sites by blasters and painters who have NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE with robotics.
Whether you are new to blasting or have been around for a little while, it’s helpful to the names of the parts of your blast helmet. This will help you when ordering new parts for your helmet and also to understand better what the various components do. To the left is a sample breakdown of an Apollo 600 Blast Helmet (a best seller in the blasting industry). See pdf links below to see labeled parts breakdown of the Apollo 600 blast hood HP and LP models.
Below is also a video animation of the major components of the Apollo 600 helmet, these components are very similar to what are found in other major blast hood manufacturers including Bullard hoods and Nova hoods. Please also see the video overviews for the Bullard GenVX helmet and the Nova 3 Helmet. Each helmet has its pros and cons, factors to consider are helmet weight, comfort, price, cost of lenses and parts, and NIOSH approval.
Apollo 600 HP Helmet (Designed for use with compressed air) Apollo 600 LP Helmet (Designed for use an ambient air pump)
Bullard GenVX Video
Nova 3 Blast Helmet Video
Clemco Apollo 600 Video
Need Blast Helmet Replacement Parts?
If you’re in need of blast helmet replacement parts, or a whole new blast helmet, reach out today and talk to a live representative. Our team is available to provide you with hands on service.
8 Quick Tips for Extending the Life of Your Gibson Wheel Blast System
8 Quick Tips for Extending the Life of Your Gibson Wheel Blast System
Purchasing a Gibson wheel blast cleaning system can be significant investment, which is why regularly maintaining your system is a good idea. Regular maintenance will not only help the daily performance of the system but it will also prolong the life giving you many years of blast cleaning. To acheive optimal lifespan and productivity on Gibson Wheel Blast Systems, follow the instructions below, provided by our partner, Gibson Abrasive Equipment:
Break the system down into (8) main components for maintenance purposes and follow the action steps to ensure your wheel blast equipment functions at high productivity levels.
1) Blast Wheels
The wheels propels or throws the chosen abrasive media.
Check major components for wear. (Blades, Impeller, Control Cage, & Liners)
Check and adjust the blast pattern.
Pro Tip:When doing a blast wheel tune-up mark the control cage location on the housing. This will make checking and adjusting the blast pattern much easier.
2) Work Handling system
Depending on the design type of machine this might be rubber belt, fixture(s), rotary table(s), rollers, or a manganese belt conveyor.
Check for wear and replace as necessary.
3) Blast Chamber
This is the main cabinet or chamber that contains the blast operation.
Check cabinet and liners for wear.
Check and replace door seals and cabinet slots as necessary.
Pro Tip: Many liners used in Gibson blast systems are universal. Some areas might show more wear than others. This can depend on the blast pattern and parts being blasted. Swap worn liners with liners that are showing little to no wear. This will save you time and money!
4) Electrical System
The wiring, controls, and motors to power and safely operate the system.
Verify all safety switches and light curtains are working properly.
Verify the control cabinet is dust tight and clean as necessary.
Check all motor amps during operation.
5) Reclaim System
Used to transfer the abrasive mix back to the storage hopper.
Check augers and bearings for wear.
Check elevator belt and buckets for wear.
Check elevator belt tension.
Pro Tip:When replacing the elevator belt, it is good to consider replacing the bearings, pulleys, and shafts.
6) Separation System
The method that the machine has to remove contaminate waste, broken down abrasive, or dust from the reusable abrasive.
7) Abrasive Storage System
The storage hopper effectively provides consistent media to the blast wheel(s).
Check the hopper for leaks and wear spots.
Check for obstructions to the abrasive flow.
Pro Tip:In humid climates abrasive can begin to oxidize causing issues with abrasive flow.
8) Ventilation System
The dust collection system provides negative pressure to the blast system to ensure dust free operation as well as performs the pneumatic separation of the abrasive mix.
Manually pulse each solenoid valve, ensuring proper function.
Verify the system is getting the proper air pressure in the reservoir tube.
Check the differential pressure on the provided gauge.
Routinely inspect dust pipes to prevent clogs.
Verify proper function of the timer board.
Order Wheel Blast Replacement Parts Today
Contact our team today for your wheel blast parts needs. We can get your parts needed shipped out quickly!
When it comes to the best blasting system for the job there are several variables to consider, including suction vs pressure blast systems, media type, budget, desired surface finish, etc.
So let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of Dry Blasting vs Wet Blasting in a blast cabinet for an industrial environment. This will be a good place to start the discussion, knowing that detailed testing is available to fully determine specifics for an application.
Dry Blasting Cabinet Advantages
Equipment is more economical
Dry blasting is more aggressive, typically faster than wet blasting
No drying is required
Less corrosion issues
More aftermarket parts available
Can use steel shot and grit
Easier to clean out vs some wet blast systems that do not have a drain plug system
Wet Blasting Cabinet Advantages
The slurry cushions the process and can eliminate embedded abrasive.
Finer finishes can be achieved with the wet blast process.
The wet blasting process is Dust Free—equipment can be installed in clean work cells to closely control Q/A. Risk of dust fires and explosions eliminated!
Parts can be loaded wet, or even with oil or grease.
Water helps remove greases and oils from surfaces.
Oil can be eliminated from the system with an optional oil separator.
Heat can be added to a system to speed up cleaning.
Capabilities to wet blast, rinse, and even dry parts in one system.
Wet blast cabinets provide closed loop processing and filtered water for rinsing.
Media life is increased, wet blasting reduces the media breakdown rate by as much as two thirds compared to traditional dry blasting.
No Dust Collector—Smaller Footprint.
Should You Choose Wet Blasting or Dry Blasting?
A lot depends on the application and your budget.
Dry blasting has been used for decades and for as many different industrial applications as you can think of. When it comes to wet blasting, below are some of the applications where this process excels.
Medical Parts – especially when ferrous contamination and media embedment are concerns
Aerospace – composite etching (provides a gentle even finish) and bonding (can increase bond strength up to 200x when compared to traditional methods)
Automotive – ideal when oily, greasy, or carbon stained parts need to be cleaned and finished
Firearms – Provides an even finish and can be used to get into hard to reach places
Still need help deciding between wet blasting vs dry blasting?
Reach out and talk to our team of trained technical reps. We will find the best solution for your application based on cost, process and facility requirements.
Midvale offers full lab testing services to prove an application process. We can test the type of machine, various pressures, and media to determine the best process solution. Ask us about these services today!
Selecting your blast media is an important part of the overall process. You need to ensure that the media is safe to use on your substrate, whether or not you can reclaim and recycle, and the desired outcome. Ask your media supplier for an estimate on blast bycles for the media you think will fit best. (See Below)
4.) Make Sure You Are Using The Right Sized Compressor For Your Nozzle
Larger Blast Nozzle typically equals more production, that being said it also requires more CFM and Horsepower from your compressor. The chart above illustrates what is required from compressor based on nozzle and pressure at the nozzle. Tip: It is a good practice to base your compressor size requirements based on the next nozzle size up, to accommodate for nozzle wear especially when blasting with aggressive media.
There are several types of blast nozzles to choose from. They very in size, shape and material.
5.) Choose The Correct Blast Hose
Choosing the correct size and type of blast hose will not only ensure a longer life of the hose based ont he type of media you are using, but will also help reduce operator fatigue. Ensuring your operators are working at the highest level will increase production and efficiency. There are several types of blast hose to choose from, some factors to consider include weight, durability, flexibility, and is it static dissipating.
6.) Wear Proper PPE With Protective Clothing
If you are not sure what personal protection equipment you should wear when abrasive blasting, contact your media supplier or you can call reach out to a Midvale Technical Rep. Typical protective equipment includes a blast helmet, blast helmet lenses, blast suit and cape, blast gloves, air supply line, breathing air hose, CO monitor, CPF Filter, and sometimes an ambient air pump.
There are a number of factors that determine the “true cost” of an abrasive: The dollar amount per pound, the number of cycles, and your reclaim system.
As mentioned in tip number 3 reusability is important, blast media that initially seems very expensive such as steel shot/grit (reusability 200+ cycles) versus a cheaper abrasive such as coal slag (reusability 1 – 3 cycles). While steel media is superior in reusability it is not cheaper if you cannot reclaim it effectively (see tip #2).
Start Sandblasting Today
Interested in learning more about how to make your sandblasting operation efficient and productive? Or starting your blasting operation from the ground up? Talk to our team of technically trained reps today.