Given that most steel objects and structures have the potential to easily last for 50 years or more, media blasting can help them last longer. Small rust spots can be removed and coated to protect a structure of product for years to come. If you’ve never used media blasting as a cleaning or repair technique, there’s a lot to learn.
Here are 5 things you need to know before you start media blasting.
1. You Need The Right Equipment
First things first, you need to make sure that you have the equipment to handle the job before you start media blasting.
If you don’t have a compressor to match your blaster, you’re out of luck. Your compressor will need to keep up with your blaster, so be sure that you check the ratings to ensure they match before you start working. If your compressor is rated differently than your blaster, you might not be able to get the job done.
Before you buy a blaster, be sure that you won’t have your compressor at maximum capacity while you’re running your blaster. If your compressor doesn’t get time to rest, it could begin to overheat. An overheated line will create moisture and that moisture will cause your media blaster to clog.
Make sure you have a solid air management system in place as well.
You’ll need constant high pressure for your media blaster to get the job done. If your compressor can’t give you the volume that you need, your blaster isn’t going to work correctly.
Since the industry standard for a nozzle is around 80 PSI or slightly more, your compressor should be able to deliver this easily. If you don’t have at least this amount of pressure, you’re going to have trouble getting media to do the work you want it to do.
Be careful about going higher than 110 PSI, because you might exceed the blaster tank’s pressure rating. Your media might disintegrate when it hits the material you’re using the blaster on. That will also decrease your capability for cleaning material.
2. Your Hose Matters
The length and shape of your hose matters when you’re working with a media blaster. Having a really long hose means that you’ll be able to get around a body shop or garage easily to get where you need to blast. What could be the downside?
Well, a few seconds of basic physics calculations will remind you that you can’t keep media moving at the same rate forever. A long hose will mean that you’ll diminish the performance of your media blaster. Over the length of your hose, media will slow down and have less of an impact on the surface you’re blasting.
Keeping your hose as short as possible will allow you to get as much power from your media as you want. Make sure there aren’t any unnecessary bends or kinks in your hose either. A curved or bent hose will diminish performance.
Every loop, bend, or snag on your hose means that pressure will drop. A hard bend could diminish your power by 10 PSI every time.
3. Water is the Worst
As stated above, moisture in your line will cause media to clump and could diminish your capability of getting the job done. An air separator or a dryer in your line will allow you to keep your media dry and separated. Clumps of media clog up air lines and slow everything down.
Try out a disposable air filter when you start out with a new blasting project. If you always change out your filter, you’ll ensure that the airflow is consistent and that your media is always in an ideal state.
An air filter is the cheapest form of insurance you can implement to avoid wet chunks of media from becoming a problem.
If you live in a moist climate, you need to add a dehumidifier to your shop to diminish the influence of the environment.
4. Adjust Your Blaster Properly
Most blasters will have the same kind of valves that block out air or media. These or “deadman” switches to stop the flow of air or media don’t need to be opened all the way each time you use them. Given that each media blasting set up will be different, each one will require a different setting.
Most people judge the air to media ratio at 90 to 10. If you try to force through too much media, the pressure will be killed by the weight of the media when it goes through the nozzle.
Do a few test runs of media and air pressure before you start trying to take any material off of your piece. Use a test piece to get a handle on the system you’ve set up.
5. Your Technique Matters
One of the things that people often say about media blasting is that it can warp or damage thinner materials. You could even damage a sensitive part by taking off too much material.
If you have a steady motion from side to side, you can keep the material removal even. If you stop in one area for more than a few seconds, you could warp your material.
Always keep an angle of 45-60 degrees to be sure that you’re keeping media moving in all directions. Direct blasting could hurt your material, so exercise the care you would with any other technique.
Media Blasting Is a Great DIY Technique
Whether you run a body shop or are just a restoration hobbyist, media blasting is a great way to work on projects. You can take old rusted material and make it brand new with a little bit of media blasting.
For more tips on media blasting, whether you’re an enterprise or a hobbyist, contact us today.