Abrasive Blasting 101
Media Blast & Abrasive’s sand blaster cabinet line has been manufactured in the USA since the company was started almost a half-century ago. We know the difference between a quality, light duty machine and a “sight seller” cabinet. Sight sellers are sand blaster cabinets marketed online that appear to meet all the requirements a user would want. Unfortunately, they often fall short after delivery with poor abrasive recycling and creating a mess around the cabinet.
At Media Blast & Abrasives, our goal is to help people buy the right machine the first time. Customers often tell us they want a new sand blaster cabinet because the one they have doesn’t meet their needs.
This almost always happens in the light duty machine category because people are looking for small, inexpensive machines. In fact, it happens so frequently we’ve compiled a list of the four most common mistakes people make when shopping for a light duty sand blaster cabinet.
We go into each of these light duty sandblaster mistakes in greater detail below.
This sand blaster cabinet looks like a good idea. People think it is the answer to loading large parts into a cabinet, but there are significant issues with this design. One major drawback is that the sealing location is also the loading location. Denting any part of this surface leaves you with a leaking cabinet, a messy area right where you are standing, and glass beads on the floor just like grease. Another concern is the propensity of these cabinets to tip over. The top half of this type of cabinet contains more square feet of steel weight above the hopper than the hopper itself, and it needs to fully open completely to easily load large parts, which leaves a majority of the weight trying to tip backward. Possibly the biggest disadvantage to this sand blaster cabinet is it typically comes with a small gun size meaning low frictional heat and slow blasting time. So, people purchase a cabinet that looks like the answer to blasting large parts, and they find themselves with a very slow part processing time. To read more about the pitfalls of Clam-Shell cabinets, read “8 Drawbacks of a Clamshell Sandblasting Cabinet”.
Many people seem to learn how compressed air is used to run tools only after they buy an air tool. This often means they are disappointed. We recommend reading “Air Compressor 101: Everything You Need to Know” before you buy a blast cabinet. Yes, there are people selling sand blaster cabinets running with a 6-cfm gun size, and even a 12-cfm cabinet gun size is common. What you get with those sand blaster cabinets is very low frictional heat and low abrasive delivery. Think of it like letting your electric sander dance over a piece of wood with only the weight of the sander. You only get frictional heat when you push down on the sander.
Real World Example: Many items won’t clean with a small gun, why?. Example, it takes over 300 degrees F to remove epoxy paint from a part surface. These small gun sizes, 25 cfm and less, are generating about 175 F maximum, not enough to do much but soften Epoxy Paint at best.
Another common Google search is “Best Home Garage Sandblaster” which often lands on wet sand blaster cabinets touting dustless. We have been manufacturing wet sand blaster cabinets for almost half a century. We know thatand while wet blasters offer some great benefits, they also have drawbacks. Be wary of sellers claiming a Wet Blaster is just what you want to eliminate dust. Wet cabinets are not dustless unless they include a negative-pressure cabinet, and many being sold today don’t qualify as dustless. Our HydroSlurry models are perfect for home garages – they have a mist filter and negative pressure cabinet making them legal to operate if you have employees and dustless.
Another thing to keep in mind is that wet machines are about 5 times slower than dry using the same volume of compressed air. Now, they can also do things a dry blasting cabinet can’t, so sometimes there really is no better choice than a wet blaster.
The most important thing about a home garage sandblaster is making sure the machine can operate at 25 cfm or less. Why? Because normally garage power is 220-volt single-phase power. And with those power limitations, the biggest air compressor you can operate is a 25-cfm compressor. At this cfm a dry blasting cabinet will give you the fastest cleaning speed. And any home garage dry blaster needs the best dust collector you can buy, period. We have a great clean dry blasting cabinet for your home or small shop use, too.
Most low-cost cabinets you find online are 5% DDC, Daily Duty Cycle, cabinets. Most of the money saved on these machines comes in the form of low-cost dust collectors with small filter areas, no separator reclaimer, an inferior dust collector blower, and cheap wear parts. The long time it takes to blast a large part with a small gun cfm size means you overload the low-cost dust collector unless you clean it 3 to 4 times per hour of blasting. What you think of as being a great idea is really what we call a sight seller sold by people not really making the equipment, only selling you what you asked for.
This brings us to our final point – don’t skimp on cabinet upgrades. Why? A high DDC, large gun cfm gun, Reverse Pulse Dust Collector, pneumatic vibrator cleaning cycle, cartridge dust collector filtration, and a Separator Reclaimer aren’t necessary to operate any sand blaster cabinet but they are great features to have. Once you see how much nicer they make your life, you won’t want to go without them.
We’ve been in business since the middle 1970s and we know our way around sand blaster cabinets. You might be wondering, are all inexpensive machines bad? Of course not, but there are some concerns with low-cost blast cabinets we can’t ignore, and knowing how you operate them is very important. If you want a clean, efficient light duty machine you’ve come to the right place. We’d love to help you identify the right machine for your needs – contact us today.
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