Sand And Shot Blasting: Pros And Cons

sand and shot blasting

Sandblasting and shot blasting are both part of the abrasive blasting business, which involves forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface. The difference between the two lies in the application technique used to apply the abrasive material to products being readied for finishing. Sandblasting uses compressed air to shoot abrasive media, such as sand, against the product being treated, while shot blasting employs centrifugal force from a mechanical device.

Sandblasting is a proven pre-finishing technique that has been around for over a hundred years. It is particularly suited to soft and sensitive materials and is more economical, easier to operate, and offers excellent quality to the consumer. Shot blasting, on the other hand, is a much more aggressive and involved technique that is used for larger and more difficult preparation objects that need a strong application force and denser media material.

Characteristics Values
Definition The operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, shape a surface or remove surface contaminants
Process Sand and shot blasting use compressed air or a centrifugal wheel to propel the abrasive material
Abrasive Material Sand, walnut shells, corn cobs, glass beads, plastic, baking soda, ice, dry ice, steel shot, steel grit, aluminium oxide, silicon carbide, etc.
Application Smoothing, shaping, and cleaning hard surfaces; removing rust, paint, and other contaminants; surface preparation; creating works of art
Equipment Air compressor, blast pots, blast cabinets, tumble equipment, spinner hangers, wet blast equipment, etc.
Health and Safety Can cause serious health issues such as silicosis and lung cancer due to inhalation of silica particles; regulated in many countries to protect workers


Sandblasting equipment

There are a variety of sandblasting equipment and blasting supplies available on the market. These include:

  • Abrasives/blast media
  • Blast rooms
  • Nozzles
  • Couplings
  • Wet blasters
  • Sandblasting cabinets
  • Abrasive blasting equipment
  • Portable blasters
  • Dust and fume collectors
  • Blast machines
  • Parts washers
  • Sponge blast
  • Dry ice blasters
  • Baking soda blast cleaning systems
  • Air-supplied helmets/hoods
  • Hoses
  • Vacuum systems
  • Safety equipment
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Power tools
  • Reclaim systems

Some companies that provide sandblasting equipment include:

  • JH Norton Company, Inc.
  • Clemco Industries Corp.
  • BlastOne


Sandblasting techniques

Sandblasting, or abrasive blasting, is the process of smoothing, shaping, and cleaning a hard surface by directing compressed air and particles at the surface at high speeds. This technique is often used to remove paint, dirt, rust, and other substances from a surface, preparing it for future treatments.

There are several factors that contribute to the speed and effectiveness of sandblasting:

Nozzle Size

The size of the nozzle dictates the amount of media released. Smaller nozzles release less media at the target, while larger nozzles increase production by allowing more media to be blasted. However, increasing the nozzle size beyond a certain point will not yield further gains in production.

Media Type

Finer media allows for greater production, while large media is better for deeper surface profiles. Harder and angular media types also contribute to increased production.

Abrasive Supply Control

A higher ratio of abrasive to air generally leads to increased production, as long as the media is moving at high speed.

Pressure of Blasting

Higher blast pressure can triple production. Even a small pressure drop of 1 psi can result in a production decrease of 1.5%.

Blast Pattern

The blast pattern should match the target. For wide objects, use a wide pattern, and for small objects, use a small blast stream.


Power-washing the area before sandblasting can reduce blasting time by up to 50% when grease and oil residue are present. Removing decals, tape, and stickers beforehand is also important, as these can take up to 10 times more effort to remove than paint.


For ground blasting, hold the blast hose against your body to use your weight to absorb the force of the air pressure. For high-pressure abrasive blasting (100 psi or more), position the nozzle at a 90-degree angle to the work surface to produce a clean anchor pattern.


Sandblasting safety

Sandblasting is a process that uses compressed air or water to direct abrasive particles at a surface at high speed, smoothing and shaping it. This process can be dangerous, so it is important to follow safety protocols and use safety equipment to protect workers and others nearby. Here are some key guidelines and tips to ensure safety during sandblasting operations:

Secure the Environment

It is important to keep the blasting area clear of unnecessary items and substances to prevent tripping and falling hazards. Ensure that no one is eating, drinking, or smoking around the blasting areas, as blasting particles pose serious respiratory and other health hazards. Verify that all ventilation, air compressors, power supplies, and wash stations are fully functional before beginning work.

Check the Blasting Equipment

Inspect the blasting equipment for any damage or leaks that could release toxins into the air. Use less toxic abrasives when possible and ensure proper containment practices by keeping the equipment in proper containment structures. Restrict access to any non-enclosed blasting areas. Daily testing of breathing filters and carbon monoxide monitors is essential to ensure proper ventilation and reduce overall toxicity.

Ensure Protective Gear Is Available and Worn

Provide workers with the appropriate protective gear, including helmets, clothing, gloves, safety footwear, earplugs, safety goggles, and respirators. Respiratory protection is critical, and anyone using the blaster must wear an abrasive blasting respirator that covers the head, face, neck, and shoulders. The respirators should be NIOSH-certified.

Use Proper Cleanup Procedures

Use water-based cleaning methods or HEPA-filtered vacuuming systems to clean the area after sandblasting. Avoid using compressed air as it will disperse more dust into the environment.

Provide Thorough Training

Ensure that workers involved in sandblasting are trained on safety standards and are aware of the risks and safety measures required. Develop a comprehensive plan that covers safe machinery operation and the importance of personal protective equipment. Review safety data sheets with employees, as they contain important information on the health hazards of specific blasting materials.

Additional Considerations

Sandblasting generates significant noise, which can lead to hearing loss with excess exposure. Enforcing the use of hearing protection is crucial, and employers should implement a hearing conservation program as per OSHA standard 1910.95. Additionally, consider replacing sandblasting with a safer method, such as water blasting, when possible.

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Shot blasting equipment

Shot blasting, or abrasive blasting, is a process that involves propelling abrasive materials at a high speed onto a surface to smoothen, shape, or clean it. The effect is similar to using sandpaper, but shot blasting provides a more even finish and can reach corners and crannies. Shot blasting can be done on various materials, including metal, wood, and glass, and is commonly used for removing paint, rust, and other substances. It is also used for surface preparation and etching.

There are different types of shot blasting equipment available, and the choice depends on the specific application and the size of the job. Here is an overview of some common types of shot blasting equipment:

  • Manual sandblasting machines: These machines are operated by hand and are typically used for smaller jobs or hard-to-reach areas. They consist of a chamber where sand and air are mixed, which then travel through a hose and a handheld nozzle that directs the particles towards the surface. Manual sandblasting machines can be used for a variety of applications, including paint and rust removal, surface preparation, and etching.
  • Pressure blast cabinets: These are enclosed cabinets that use compressed air to propel the abrasive media onto the surface being treated. They are often used for smaller parts that can be placed inside the cabinet. Different types of pressure blast cabinets are available, such as those designed for stoneware, big pieces, aeronautical elements, automotive markets, and more.
  • Suction blast cabinets: Similar to pressure blast cabinets, suction blast cabinets use suction to create a vacuum inside the cabinet, which helps draw the abrasive media towards the surface. They are often used for more delicate surfaces or when a lower impact is desired. Suction blast cabinets come in various types, such as those designed for shading mannequins, implants, tombstones, and marble surfaces.
  • Riding shot blasters: These are larger machines that are typically powered by propane or electricity and are used for bigger jobs. They are often used for concrete surface preparation and can cover a large area efficiently. Riding shot blasters are usually more expensive to rent or purchase compared to manual sandblasting machines.
  • Shot blasting attachments: Some equipment manufacturers offer shot blasting head attachments that can be added to existing machinery. These attachments allow for more versatility, as they can be used with different base machines to perform shot blasting operations.

It is important to note that shot blasting equipment can be purchased new or remanufactured, with the latter being a more cost-effective option. Remanufactured shot blasting equipment is often fully rebuilt with new replacement parts and comes with a standard warranty, offering similar performance to new machines at a lower cost.

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Shot blasting applications

Shot blasting is a versatile process used to clean, strengthen, or polish metal. It is a surface treatment technique that involves propelling particulate grains at high velocity to remove contamination, change the texture of a surface, or prepare it for coating. Shot blasting is used in almost every industry that uses metal, including aerospace, automotive, construction, foundry, shipbuilding, and rail.


Shot blasting is an effective method for removing contamination, debris, paint, rust, stains, and other surface contaminants from metal parts. It can also be used to remove heavy corrosion from large steel sheets.


Shot blasting can be used to prepare surfaces for further processing, such as painting, coating, or resurfacing. It increases the adhesion of the surface to improve the application of adhesives, paint, and other coatings.


Peening is the process of working the surface of a metal to improve its material properties. Shot blasting can be used to relieve tensile stress in metal and composites, increasing their compressive strength. This process is often used for delicate machine components, such as gear parts, suspension springs, and turbine blades.


Shot blasting can be used for cutting blocks of granite and other hard stones using Gang Saw machines.

Miscellaneous Applications

Shot blasting has various other applications, including ballast, radiation shielding, anti-slip additive, cored wire, and cleaning systems for incinerators and heat exchangers.

Frequently asked questions

Sandblasting and shot blasting are processes that use compressed air or a centrifugal wheel to forcibly propel abrasive material against a surface. Sandblasting uses compressed air, whereas shot blasting uses a mechanical device to create centrifugal force.

Sandblasting is ideal for cleaning delicate surfaces such as electronic parts or connectors, as well as soft and sensitive materials. Shot blasting is more aggressive and is used for larger and more difficult objects that require a strong application force and denser media material.

Sand and shot blasting can create a large amount of dust and flying material, as well as hazardous dust and fumes. Therefore, it is important to wear appropriate safety equipment, including respiratory protection, hearing protection, and body protection.

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