Abrasive blasting is a technique that has been in existence since 1870 when the first abrasive blasting process was patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman.

Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling abrasive material against a surface under high pressure in order to achieve the following:

To propel the material, pressurized fluid or air, a centrifugal wheel is used. Today, there are many variations to this process, such as sandblasting, sodablasting, shot blasting, and bead blasting.

The key features of wet abrasive blasting include the ability to use very fine or coarse media with densities ranging from plastic to steel and the ability to use hot water and soap to enable synchronous degreasing and blasting to eliminate dust and remove hazardous material or waste (asbestos, radioactive, or other poisonous products) without danger to surfaces and structures, thereby achieving effective decontamination.

Wet abrasive blasting process can be applied using all traditional blasting formats such as walk-in booths, hand cabinets, automated production machinery and total loss portable blasting units. Process speeds can be varied according to the requirements. For example, it can be performed as fast as conventional dry sand blasting while using similar size and type of media. Surfaces are not damaged as water acts as a buffer between the media and the surface. Thus, wet abrasive blasting has twin advantages of decreasing media breakdown rates and preventing foreign materials from sticking to the surface. Coating or bonding operations that are performed after wet blasting are much better than after dry blasting based on the level of cleanliness.

Wet blasting techniques include wet abrasive blasting, high-pressure water blasting, high-pressure water and abrasive blasting, and air and water abrasive blasting. The type of wet blasting method is chosen according to the application.

Most wet blast devices are of the cabinet mounted type that can be modified by using take-off conveyors, auxiliary strippers, and wash-rinse dry stations. The wet blast device usually contains the following parts:

There are several variations of wet abrasive methods, however the two most commonly used ones are highlighted below:

Wet blasting involves high-velocity compressed air propulsion of a slurry towards a surface. The slurry consists of fine abrasive mixed in chemically treated water, and is continuously agitated to prevent the abrasive from settling. As most wet abrasive blasters mix water with the abrasive, this causes the surface cleaning rate to be lower than that of dry abrasive blasting. To rectify this issue, a retrofit device has been developed to fit over the end of conventional abrasive blast nozzles.

The compressed air is sent into a vessel containing the mixture at a pressure equal to that fed to a blast hose. The reason for equalizing the pressure is to enable the abrasive mixture to be fed via a mixing valve into an air line. The flow of abrasive is controlled by a full flow valve located between a hopper and a mixing chamber.

The swirl chamber and the exit nozzle are important parts of the wet blasting device. The swirl chamber is provided with a tangential water inlet, so that the incoming water swirls via the inside of the chamber and then out the exit nozzle. The centrifugal force makes the water to form a hollow cone pattern around the abrasive blast stream. The angle of the water cone is controlled by the shape of the exit nozzle and centrifugal forces.

After wet blasting, the surface has to be rinsed to remove any used abrasive. It is recommended that the rinse water should contain a rust inhibitor in cases where the blasting water also does. Rinsing is not an easy task as the surface can contain a number of ledges, and water, abrasives, and residues collect in these places. Once the surface is completely dry, coating can be applied.

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Thomas, G.P.. (2019, April 19). Wet Abrasive Blasting – Fundamentals, Industrial Applications and Benefits. AZoM. Retrieved on February 15, 2020 from https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=7894.

Thomas, G.P.. "Wet Abrasive Blasting – Fundamentals, Industrial Applications and Benefits". AZoM. 15 February 2020. .

Thomas, G.P.. "Wet Abrasive Blasting – Fundamentals, Industrial Applications and Benefits". AZoM. https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=7894. (accessed February 15, 2020).

Thomas, G.P.. 2019. Wet Abrasive Blasting – Fundamentals, Industrial Applications and Benefits. AZoM, viewed 15 February 2020, https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=7894.

Could you explain in more detail on how abrasive blasting can replace hand sanding? Also, is it possible to replace hand sanding when used on cast aluminum?

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