Sandblasting and abrasive blasting are two terms often used interchangeably to describe both processes. However, these two blasting services aren’t exactly the same. Read on to learn the difference between each blasting procedure to determine the ideal services for your needs.
Sandblasting, invented around the 1870s, has long served as a helpful surface-cleaning treatment throughout many industries. These days, people use sandblasting for metal sharpening, glass etching, and related fabrication applications. The aggregate that sandblasting processes use is silica, an industrial sand material with high silicon dioxide contents.
The naturally rugged texture of silica sand is ideal for removing surface impurities on metal and other materials. However, silica is also a known carcinogen that can cause significant health complications (silicosis, cancer, etc.) for unprotected individuals. As such, most sandblasting practices use aggregates with less than one percent crystalline silica contents to avoid toxic exposure. Like silica sand, these materials are abrasive, leading to the new term “abrasive blasting.”
People sometimes refer to abrasive blasting as sandblasting, mostly because it accomplishes the same functions. This process includes an abrasive aggregate and a high-powered device that blasts various surfaces to clean and fabricate imperfections. The key difference is that, technically, abrasive blasting involves any non-silica sand material. The most common abrasive substances used for these blasting services include silicon carbide (similar in structure to crystalline silica), aluminum oxide, and garnet. Also known as abrasive grit, these materials are less toxic to humans and significantly more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Notably, abrasive blasting practices are also arguably more effective than traditional sandblasting procedures.
Which Is Right for You?
So you may hear the term sandblasting used to describe an abrasive blasting process since silica sand is less commonly implemented in blasting environments these days. If you have concerns about hiring commercial sandblaster services, you should ask the potential business about the aggregates they use during their blasting projects. Additionally, you can discuss with your blasting professional the best abrasive grit for your specific needs. They may recommend a softer, more natural alternative like fine powder or even walnut shells.
Ultimately, the difference between sandblasting and abrasive blasting is the specific grit material used during the blasting process. If you need surface treatment, check out our fantastic blasting services here at Professional Finishing!