Maintenance Tips for Abrasive Blasting

Maintenance Tips for Abrasive Blasting

Maintenance Tips for Abrasive Blasting

Maintenance Tips for Abrasive Blasting

Abrasive blasting operations rely on equipment to complete the job. Ensuring the blast equipment is running efficiently and not breaking down is an important part of any blast operation. These maintenance tips will help keep your blasting operation running efficiently and limit any shutdowns.

Commonly Replaced Blast Parts

With the use of abrasives, metal components, seals and gaskets will start to wear down. Regular replacement of these part is important to ensure that equipment runs at peak performance, avoiding a potential job shutdown.

Here is a list of the most commonly replaced items on blast equipment:

  • Pop-Up Valve Seat & Seal
  • Grit Valve and its Components
  • Exhaust Muffler
  • Blast Hose
  • Blast Nozzle
  • Nozzle Holder
  • Remote Control Handle and Hoses
  • Remote Control Valve Kits

We have replacement blast parts in stock. View our blast parts here.

blast pot diagram
blast pot diagram

Negative Effects of Nozzle Wear

An abrasive blast nozzle naturally wears down with use. The type of nozzle material, blast media, air pressure, and work time all play a role in just how quickly this happens. Keeping a nozzle gauge handy will assist in monitoring the rate of wear on your nozzle to know when to replace it.

Negative effects of nozzle wear:

Increased Air Consumption

  • Reduces the life of your compressor
  • Increases energy use of maintenance costs

Irregular Blast Pattern

  • This increases time (labor hours) spent on part(s) as the blast pattern is uneven and erratic.
  • Inconsistent end product, lowering the quality of work
abrasive blast pattern

Commonly Replaced Safety & PPE Parts

Operator safety is a vital part of the abrasive blasting process. Blasting creates dust that can be dangerous when inhaled, as well as creates physical dangers by way of sharp pieces of media, high air pressures, and obstacles in the blast environment. There are components of the breathing air respirator and filter that need to be replaced regularly.

Here is a list of the most commonly replaced items on personal protection equipment:

  • Tear Away Lenses
  • Replacement Lens & Gasket
  • Helmet Suspension
  • Hygiene Pads
  • Air Filter Cartridge
  • Breathing Tube

We carry safety equipment and replacement parts in stock. View our safety & PPE items here.

RPB Nova 3 blast hood

Tips & Tools to Keep Up with Maintenance

Maintenance is about regular up-keep to equipment rather than just repairing equipment after it breaks down. Knowing the ins and outs of your operation is key to planning your maintenance, as there are many factors that affect the rate of wear.

Here are some tools you can utilize to help navigate your blast equipment maintenance:

  • Grit Valve Selection – Selecting the appropriate grit valve and components to withstand the type of media used for the blasting application. Having the correct components will limit how quickly they wear down with use.
  • Needle Gauge – Provides an accurate reading of air pressure at the nozzle to ensure you are blasting at the appropriate psi.
  • Nozzle Gauge – Measures the inside diameter of the nozzle to check if the nozzle has worn down below the requirement for the blasting operation.
blast nozzle gauge

Maintenance and Repair Services

Through an experienced technician, Midvale offers maintenance and repair services on blast equipment. Contact our team about your equipment’s regular maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts.

Choosing The Correct Blast Hose Size

Choosing The Correct Blast Hose Size

sandblasting hose

Choosing The Right Size Sandblasting Hose

sandblasting hose

Are you having issues with your sandblasting hose wearing out too quickly?

Then you may be using the wrong size sandblasting hose.

Below is a chart to help choose the proper size blast hose for your needs.
For more information on blast hoses check out our blast hose page here.  Having the incorrect couplers or nozzle holders can also create premature blast hose wear. Check out our blast parts and accessories page to find the appropriate size for your hose and nozzle here.

Types of Sandblasting Hose:

types of sandblasting hose

Sandblasting Pro Tip:

The sandblasting hose I.D. should be 3x to 4x the size of the diameter of the your blast nozzle I.D.

Order Your New Hose Today

We carry blast hose in stock and ready to be cut down to size. Contact our team today to order your new sandblasting hose!

Why Particle Size Matters When Blasting

Why Particle Size Matters When Blasting

sandblasting abrasive

Why Particle Size Matters When Blasting

There are many different sizing options available when choosing the right abrasive for your application.  So where do you start?  One option is to determine what mil profile is required for the coating or paint that will be applied after blasting.  Many coating mfg have information indicating the required mil profile needed to have their coating adhere properly to the surface.  Also likewise many abrasive manufacturers have charts like the one below that provide a range of mil profile that can be achieved with a given size.

Another factor to consider is the hardness of the abrasive and the material being blasted.  Many abrasive mfgs indicate where their material falls on the Mohs scale (a hardness scale) on their tech data sheets.  1 on the scale being the softest like talc and 10 being the hardest like diamond.  The harder the abrasive the higher likelihood of the abrasive changing the surface being blasted.  See media guide to compare common abrasives.

Now that we have looked at hardness and mil profile’s effects on the surface being blasted, let’s look at particle size distribution. Most abrasives sold today fall within a range of grain sizes.  These grain sizes are measured and separated on screens and are referred to as mesh sizes.  For instance on the mil profile chart below for Green Diamond Sand you see sizes like 8X16 or 16X36, these numbers indicate that the majority of grains in that size fall within those mesh sizes.  There are also a small percentage of grains that are smaller or larger than those mesh sizes typically found in the mix.

sandblasting abrasive

Working Blast Mix

Once you have chosen the blast media you are going to use based on the criteria above, you need to now maintain a working mix if you are recycling and reclaiming your media.  To do this turn off the dust collection system or cap off the bottom of the blast cabinet and collect the media after cycling and then screen it (utilizing it in a Ro-tap machine, our lab can help you with screening) both before cycling and then after the first cycle.

Screening Your Media

After you have screened the media then you can see determine how quickly the media is breaking down.  Compare the your results to a sizing curve like the one above (provided by your vendor or an abrasive mfg), then determine what percentage of media is falling outside of the curve after is has been screened.  Once you make that calculation then you can add that percentage of media back into your cabinet after every cycle if possible or over a given time period of blasting.  There are systems that you can use to auto feed media back into your system where parameters are critical.

sandblasting abrasive

To understand roughly how much media you going through within a given period of time, you may want to use this chart since cycles can be hard to determine while continuously blast.  Below is an abrasive consumption chart that shows how much media is going through your nozzle (based on nozzle size and pressure) within a given amount of time.

sandblasting abrasive consumption chart

Get In Touch

Talk to our team today about how you can improve your blasting operation. We have resources that can guide you on which media and particle size you should be using in your blasting process.

7 Things You Should Be Doing When Sandblasting

7 Things You Should Be Doing When Sandblasting

tips for sandblasting

7 Things You Should Be Doing When Sandblasting

Every project requires a it’s own blasting process, equipment and media selection, but here are a few general sandblasting tips to help guide you in the process.

1.)  Never Blast With Silica Sand

Besides new stricter laws addressing Silica PEL Limits, crystaline silica leads to a deadly disease known as silicosis.  Never use  silica sand (also known river sand and sugar sand) for abrasive blasting.  Consider using other low cost alternatives such as Black Beauty Coal Slag, Green Diamond Sand, Starblast

2.)  Reclaim Your Media

If you want to save money, find a way to reclaim your media.  There are several ways to reclaim media, one way is to use a blast cabinet or blast room with a reclamation system.  In open blasting situations outdoors pneumatic blast and recovery systems are a great option as well as blast and vac systems.

blast recovery system

3.) Choosing A Blasting Abrasive

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)

abrasive blasting media guide

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.

sandblast hose sizing
sandblasting abrasive consumption chart

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.

sandblast hose

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.

sandblasting hood

7.)  Cheap Abrasives May Not Be That Cheap

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.

How To Maintain An Efficient Sandblast Media Work Mix

How To Maintain An Efficient Sandblast Media Work Mix

sandblasting media mix

How To Maintain an Efficient Blast Media Work Mix

Do you get inconsistent surface finishes when sandblasting? You may be forgetting to check your work mix.

If you are reclaiming and reusing your sandblast media, then you need to be aware of what a good sandblast media work mix is and how to maintain it. 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

sandblasting media mix

Benefits Of Using An Efficient Healthy Work Mix

  1. Increase the value of your sandblasting media by making it work as efficiently as possible.
  2. Consistent and quality surface finish.
  3. Increase productivity through a quicker surface finishing process.

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.

sandblasting working mix     sandblasting fresh product

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.

Your Midvale Sales Rep can also help tune your system for optimal performance! Contact Us Today!


What Is Vapor Blasting

What Is Vapor Blasting

what is Vapor Blasting

What is Vapor Blasting?

A look at vapor blasting and how it compares with dry blasting and wet blasting.

What is Vapor Blasting?

Vapor abrasive blasting equipment combines water and abrasive in a pot that is under water pressure. The water and abrasive are then injected into the airflow for blasting. The air pressure and water/abrasive mix has fine tuning controls to dial in the blast parameters.

How does it affect the surface when blasted?

When wet abrasives impact a surface, fine particles are isolated into water droplets. The weight of the water combined with the abrasive directly prevents dust.

As the water droplets disperse, the hydrostatic force blasts away surface coatings, leaving behind a clean and feathered edge. This allows for a smooth application of the finishing coating.

What are the benefits?

There are a number of advantages to utilizing vapor blast equipment in your blasting applications, including:

  • One of most important advantages is the reduced dust, eliminating up to 92% of airborne dust particles.
  • The vapor blast process requires little or no containment during blasting due to the reduced dust. This allows for quicker set up and tear down for your mobile blasting solutions.
  • Safe to use on sensitive substrates (When using recommended media at appropriate blast pressures).
  • Vapor Blast equipment is adjustable for a wide range of blast pressures.
  • Effective in various weather conditions including (but not limited to) high humidity and rain.

What surfaces can I blast using vapor blast equipment?

Vapor blast equipment is safe to use on almost any surface or application, including (but not limited to):

  • Wood or Brick Cleaning
  • Coating & Painting Removal
  • Concrete Repair & Restoration
  • Concrete Cleaning & Surface Preparation
  • Steel Surface Preparation

How does it compare to dry blasting?

Vapor blasting consumes far less media than traditional dry blasting and can be used on almost any surface. It also eliminates up to 92% of airborne dust.

How does it compare to wet blasting?

Vapor blasting greatly reduces the amount of media and water used while blasting compared to traditional wet blasting. This is due to a more efficient mix created in the pressure pot.

There is no large slurry mess to clean up and it doesn’t create wastewater runoff.

What blasting abrasive can be used in vapor blast equipment?

You can utilize many types of blasting abrasives in a vapor blaster as long as they don’t react to or dissolve quickly in water. Some recommended blasting abrasives include Green Diamond, garnet, crushed glass, or Armex baking soda.

Important Note: When blasting ferrous substrates, a rust inhibitor needs to be used to protect the metal. This will provide better protection against flash rusting, even over the traditional dry blasting process.

Do you think vapor blasting is right for you?

Talk to our team of technically trained experts today to help you decide. We look at all aspects of a process to see what application is going to be the most cost effective and efficient solution for you.

Dry Blasting vs Wet Blasting

Dry Blasting vs Wet Blasting

wet blasting vs dry blasting

Wet Blasting vs Dry Blasting

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
sandblasting cabinet

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.
  • Static Free
wet blast equipment

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.

Lab Testing

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!

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

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.

Action Steps:

  • Check major components for wear. (Blades, Impeller, Control Cage, & Liners)
  • Check and adjust the blast pattern.
wheel blast maintenance
wheel blast maintenance

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.

Action Steps:

  • Check for wear and replace as necessary.

3) Blast Chamber

This is the main cabinet or chamber that contains the blast operation.

Action Steps:

  • Check cabinet and liners for wear.
  • Check and replace door seals and cabinet slots as necessary.
wheel blast maintenance

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.

Action Steps:

  • 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.

Action Steps:

  • Check augers and bearings for wear.
  • Check elevator belt and buckets for wear.
  • Check elevator belt tension.
wheel blast maintenance

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).

Action Steps:

  • 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.

Action Steps:

  • 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.
wheel blast maintenance
wheel blast maintenance
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!

Parts of a Blast Helmet

Parts of a Blast Helmet

respirator helmet

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.