Industrial materials need to be ready for extremes, being exposed to the elements or high and low temperatures. They need to be able to withstand the pressures they will be put under and able to last for as long as possible. That’s true for wind turbines, railway carriages, airplanes and also for smaller structures or pieces of machinery.
In order to be ready for the challenge, a little TLC is required for preparation. Paint is the key to preserving and preparing a surface – see this explanation of how it works with steel for example – but paint alone isn’t enough. If a surface isn’t prepared, the paint won’t last and your surface will quickly deteriorate. Whether it’s rust, dirt or old paint that needs to be removed, blasting is the key to getting a surface clean and ready for the paintwork it so desperately needs.
Traditionally, sandblasting was deployed by businesses who needed to perform such a function but this has evolved over time. The process and theory are still the same – a high-pressure burst of media to strip back the coating so it can be re-painted or covered – but the difference comes with the media itself.
One new type of media utilized for this purpose is plastic media. This can be used at a large scale in blast booths – such as these from Airblast AFC.
Typically, plastic media is used when you need to accurately and carefully remove a section of coating or for delicate or high value products.
The ability to be able to work delicately is a key strength for this media. It’s also quick and creates less waste than using chemicals or, indeed, than some alternative media. The softer nature of plastic media also means that the equipment used to deploy it is able to last longer. These factors, in turn, mean that it scores highly when it comes to efficiency and cost as well as being environmentally friendly, especially when used with an abrasive recovery system.
One key reason for the whole industry to move into new media is the potential health dangers posed by traditional sandblasting. Again, plastic media scores highly here as the lack of silica removes this concerning health hazard for operators.
In general, plastic media is seen as a good choice for the automotive and aerospace industries due to its properties.
Plastic media blasting can, therefore, be used in a number of situations but it does have its limitations. There are a host of different types of media that can be used including aluminum oxide and steel shot. Many of these are even faster than plastic media and also have the advantage of being harder and therefore best suited to heavier and less intricate jobs. Businesses need to consider the surface they are preparing and what they need to do to it in order to decide on the most appropriate media type.
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