Choosing the Right Media for You
One of the more common questions I’m being asked today in reference to blast cabinets is, “What type of media can I use?’ and the answer is most. There are several different types of media that can be used to perform different tasks. Probably the most common media types are glass beads, plastic media, play or beach sand and walnut shells. We’ll list out their pro’s below.
- Glass Beads– Available in a wide variety of sizes, glass beads are generally the most popular blast material. This all-purpose media is used for honing, polishing, peening, blending, finishing, removal of light surface burrs and imperfections, frosting glass and plastic and is best for used on softer metals, ie brass, bronze and Glass beads will leave a matte finish on metals. Glass bead blasting generally will not change dimensional tolerances.
- Plastic Media– A relatively dust free blast Plastic media has a high tensile, compressive and flexural strength combined with low hardness. Commonly used for deflashing plastic parts, cleaning molds, dies, electronic connections, circuit boards and car bodies. Plastic media is fairly expensive & available in several sizes.
- Sand- Plav or Beach– A very common and inexpensive blast Highly aggressive material that can be found at any hardware store or lumber yard. Blasting with sand creates a lot of dust and the repeat usage of sand is minimal.
- Walnut Shells– This soft aggregate is used in removal of foreign matter and coatings without marring or scratching the Good for use on delicate parts. Not very aggressive.
Now on to a couple of other abrasives. These types of media are more abrasive and tend to wear out not only the components in the cabinet, but can be very harsh on whatever you’re attempting to clean or spray. We consider aluminum oxide, silicon carbide and garnet to be highly abrasive that is not recommended for Redline cabinets.
- Aluminum Oxide– Also available in a wide variety of sizes, it is widely used as a cutting/cleaning material. It can produce an ‘anchor’ pattern in preparation for lt’s excellent for removing heavy foreign matter, deburring, etching glass and lettering stone. lt is fast cutting and can be reused several times before discarding.
- Silicon Carbide– Extremely fast This sharp media is used for cleaning very hard surfaces such as stainless steel. Silicon carbide is also used in cutting and etching into stone and glass. Also available in a variety of sizes.
- Garnet– Similar to aluminum oxides in Very aggressive and fairly inexpensive.
Lastly, we’re going to tell you what NOT to use. Steel Shot and Silica Sand. Silica sand has been linked to health problems and steel shot can cause serious injury if not used in a cabinet specifically designed for it and also treated with extreme care. I hope this helps you in your search for the perfect abrasive.