Sandblasting Finishes for Metals

See when sandblasting is the right finishing option for your part.

You’re probably always looking for the best methods to give your parts that perfect finishing touch. One method that might have caught your attention is sandblasting, a powerful method to clean or finish surfaces using a blast of abrasive media. This finish is especially popular for CNC machining and LPBF parts.

Dive in to understand how sandblasting stands out and compares with other finishing processes.

What is Sandblasting?

The term “sandblasting” might be slightly misleading. The process can employ various abrasive materials depending on the task rather than just sand.

Initially introduced as a technique for removing rust and cleaning walls, the sandblasting procedure has evolved and is now integral in creating high-quality finishes on many materials.

Compressed air or steam forcibly directs the chosen medium onto the part’s surface in sandblasting. This process can strip away unwanted materials like rust or paint or create a specific texture on a previously smooth surface.

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Key Benefits 

  • Versatility: Adapt the process by changing the abrasive medium. Whether cleaning, deburring, or texturing, sandblasting offers flexibility.
  • Uniformity: Achieve a consistent finish across complex geometric shapes and surfaces.
  • Efficiency: Speed up prep time, especially when preparing surfaces for painting or further processing.

Selecting the Right Abrasive Material

Your choice of abrasive material is pivotal in determining the outcome of the sandblasting process. Different materials offer varied textures, efficiencies, and impacts:

  • Sand: One of the most commonly used abrasives, sand is excellent for general cleaning and stripping operations. It’s practical, readily available, and offers a moderate cutting action.
  • Steel Shots: These are spherical, producing a peening action and a smooth, polished finish. It’s especially ideal for preparing surfaces that require a sleek touch or for tasks where removing only the surface contaminants is essential.
  • Glass Beads: If you’re aiming for a more satin or matte finish without removing too much material, glass beads are an excellent choice. They’re also great for creating decorative finishes or applications requiring a gentle touch.

The choice of abrasive isn’t just about the finish. It also involves considering the hardness of the target material, the desired depth of the abrasion, and the efficiency required. For example, while sand might be perfect for cleaning up rust from an old metal piece, glass beads might be better suited for achieving a decorative finish on a softer metal alloy.

Achieving Best Results with Sandblasting

The sandblasting process requires a blasting machine, compressor, and suitable protective gear. However, the method also involves experience and technical know-how.

MakerVerse’s fully vetted supply chain ensures the quality of your sandblasted chart. The experts we work with know the ideal:

  • Pressure levels: Too high might damage the surface, and too low won’t produce the desired surface effect.
  • Distance: The distance between the nozzle and the surface can influence the impact of the abrasive.
  • Angle: Adjusting the angle helps target specific areas or achieve varied finishes.

Comparing Sandblasting with Other Popular Finishing Processes

Sandblasting vs. Black Oxidizing

While sandblasting is a mechanical process targeting surface modifications, black oxidizing is a chemical finish aiming for corrosion resistance on ferrous metals. Unlike the rough or matte finish of sandblasting, blackening offers a black matte finish without adding texture.

Sandblasting vs. Anodizing

Anodizing, an electrochemical method, primarily enhances aluminum surfaces for increased corrosion resistance and aesthetic appeal. In contrast to the versatile application of sandblasting on various materials, anodizing delivers vibrant, chip-resistant colors.

Getting Started with Sandblasting

Understanding the strengths and nuances of sandblasting is invaluable. When applied correctly, sandblasting can elevate the quality of your components, whether in cleaning, deburring, or prepping for other finishes.

At MakerVerse, you can get instant access to the full range of technologies and finishes, including sandblasting.