A highly versatile and precise process, air blasting, also known as abrasive blasting, can be used to clean and finish a wide variety of surfaces and materials. Air blasting makes use of compressed air to forcefully propel a material — known as an abrasive — against a surface, stripping away paint, rust, coatings, varnishes, and other impurities, resulting in a chemically cleaned, finished product.
Depending on the amount of pressure applied, the type of abrasive, the angle used, the size and shape of the work to be blasted, and various other factors, air blasting can be employed for a range of operations — from gently cleaning fragile surfaces to smoothing and finishing stone and metal.
DeLong Equipment offers a wide range of systems and abrasives for all types of air blasting needs. With 24/7, on-call technician support and a proud history of proven quality from our founding in 1967 to today, our team provides industry-leading metal finishing and surface preparation solutions to a wide range of industries.
How Air Blasting Works
As noted above, air blasting uses compressed air to “blast” an abrasive material against a surface in order to smooth, strip, and clean it. Common abrasives range from walnut shell grit, which provides a fairly gentle cleaning that will leave the base surface unaltered, to materials such as steel grit, which is well-suited for aggressive cleaning of foundry metals.
There are two main types of air blasting systems: suction systems and pressure systems. Both methods accomplish the same goal but differ in their construction and use of compressed air.
Suction systems use compressed air by creating a kind of vacuum that pulls abrasives out of a storage hopper to be propelled out of a blast gun. These systems typically offer lower upfront costs and simplified setup, but are usually less efficient in their use of energy and compressed air.
Pressure systems, on the other hand, use the compressed air to push — rather than pull — the abrasive through a feedline and out of a blast gun. These systems are often significantly more energy- and air-efficient than their suction counterparts, and can also use a wider variety of abrasives, making them the more versatile of the two options.
Regardless of what type of system is used, manufacturers can expect to complete cleaning processes up to 75% faster than they could through hand cleaning.
Air Blasting Materials and Uses
Thanks to its high strength and durability, tungsten carbide is often considered the ideal material for blasting nozzles. Different abrasive materials will produce different results depending on the specific application, desired outcome, and material being blasted.
For projects requiring aggressive air blasting — such as stripping rust or paint from large swathes of resilient metals — materials including silicon carbide grit, aluminum oxide, and crushed glass grit can provide powerful stripping and finishing services.
Less demanding uses, such as auto restoration or mold removal, are often better suited to more gentle abrasives, such as walnut shells and abrasive plastic, while the blasting of gentle materials, such as wood and thin plastics, requires the softest available abrasives, like pumice and corn cob grit.
Working With DeLong Equipment
In addition to wheel and air blast equipment, blasting abrasives, and vibratory finishing equipment, we also offer various media, compounds, part washers, dust collection equipment, maintenance and rebuild services, and job shop services. For more information about air blasting, or to discuss how we can help with your cleaning and finishing needs, contact our team today.