In the world of surface preparation, no two surfaces are the same. Because there is such a wide variety of surfaces out there, it’s only natural that there would be a variety of different surface preparation techniques. Even under the category of abrasive blasting, there are multiple techniques available. Two of the most common techniques under this category are shot-blasting and sandblasting.
Because they are both abrasive techniques, the terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably, but understanding the difference between shot-blasting and sandblasting will help your facility make the right choice for surface preparation.
One of the primary differences between shot-blasting and sandblasting is the medium used. Shot-blasting uses abrasive “shot” made of metal such as aluminum oxide or carbon grit almost exclusively. Sandblasting can use metallic shot, but more often it uses gentler abrasives such as organic media or glass. Silica sand used to be the more popular abrasive choice and is the choice that gave sand-blasting its name. However, most modern facilities rarely use sand these days because of its potential for causing respiratory health conditions.
Both shot-blasting and sandblasting also use different means of transporting the media to the surface when being prepared. During shot-blasting, the medium is loaded into a centrifugal wheel which shoots the medium at the surfaces at high velocities. This is usually done in a closed chamber within a piece of specialized machinery. On the other hand, sandblasting relies on water or compressed air to fire the media at the surface at high speeds, though not as high as shot-blasting. This makes both techniques better suited to different surfaces.
Deciding which abrasive blasting technique to use depends entirely on the material your facility is working with. Because they fire much more abrasive shot at much higher speeds, shot-blast cleaning systems are typically best used on harder to clean, metal surfaces. For instance, removing rust or stripping paint from a metal surface can be done easily with shot-blasting. Sandblasting, on the other hand, is typically used for preparing more delicate materials such as plastic, aluminum, wood, stone, glass, or machinery with sensitive electrical components.
If your facility is trying to prepare the surface of gentler materials, sandblasting is likely the best choice for your company. But if you work with metal and you have tough-to-prepare surfaces, let Viking Blast and Wash Systems help you get the job done.