Abrasive Blasting 101
Now more than ever people are relying on the internet to purchase things sight-unseen, which is why we’ve compiled a list of 9 online automotive media blaster myths. Before you buy a sandblasting cabinet, make sure you’re not getting sold on the wrong machine for your project.
Buying the best-looking machine is the best bet. This is categorically wrong. Don’t get caught up in the photography – it’s all about machine features and buying the media blaster that fits your needs.
Buying from a Tool House means you’re getting the best selection. In fact, this is often exactly the opposite. Buying direct from a manufacturer or certified dealer in the US gets you more value for the dollar spent and usually a much better machine. Tool Houses know very little about the Abrasive Blasting Industry.
The bigger the cabinet, the more you can process. Unfortunately, a large cabinet size only appears to be a real bargain. Sure, you can fit a 1932 car fender inside the cabinet but unless the gun and dust collector are appropriately sized it will be prohibitively time consuming to process that part. Most online retailers don’t talk about the duty cycle of their low-cost cabinets, but it’s something all customers should ask about.
ProTip: small guns create lower frictional heat and clean much slower than larger guns. Simply stated, it takes an almost geometrically longer time to clean a part with half the compressed air. This places the dust collector at risk of being too small and exceeding the machine’s normal 5% daily duty cycle.
Buy the media blaster described with words like “Heavy Duty, Industrial and Robust”. Most people don’t realize that heavy duty and light duty are terms used to describe duty cycle. They wrongly believe that heavy duty is a term to describe the quality of the machine. It’s an especially big red flag if these terms are used with poor grammar.
Front loading and clam-shell loading cabinets are ideal for loading large parts. We have an entire blog dedicated to this fallacy, check it out here.
Purchasing a cheap dust collector and vacuum blower is a good way to reduce media blaster costs. A 1-1/2 hp dust collector motor results in an inexpensive vacuum blower that moves very little air out of the cabinet. This type of blower is less than $35.00 and will make machine operation a nightmare. Find out more about the importance of vacuum blowers here.
You can turn up the air pressure when using a small gun and achieve the same results as using a larger gun. We cannot express enough that this will not work. Yes, you can increase the speed of the abrasive exiting the gun, but that will likely exceed the maximum abrasive impact velocity. Yes, that will clean faster, but it also makes your abrasive explode upon impact rendering it useless dust after one or two recycles.
ProTip: All types of abrasive can only be recycled about two times when you exceed maximum abrasive impact velocity. While you might think this will clean faster, it actually takes longer because you’ve got to perform more dust collector maintenance and replace the abrasive more often.
Buying a “robust, heavy-duty” dust collector means less maintenance. Dust collector filter size in square feet of collection surface is what decides when you stop and clean the dust collector. Period. There is no way around that. Ignore the fancy adjectives and ask for the dust collector filter surface, in square feet, to ensure you’re buying something that fits your application.
The best media blasters are the ones that appear most often in online search results. This isn’t necessarily true. Brands can “pay to play” in the search engine results these days, which makes it more challenging to choose a reliable manufacturer. Be sure you do your homework and research machines but also manufacturers. It’s better to spend a little more money and get a machine that’s well-made by a reputable company with all the replacement parts right here in the USA.
Really good tools are priceless, but cheap tools can make the task at hand nearly unbearable. If you find yourself stuck purchasing a media blaster online, it’s important to protect yourself from purchasing the wrong machine. If you need help, our team can walk you through the needs associated with your application and recommend the best machine and the highest return on your investment.