• Matt Brook

ABRASIVE BLASTING. It’s Just Sand Blasting, right?

To the layperson yes, but in reality, no. Abrasive blasting takes on many forms and there is no “One Size Fits All” when it comes to this part of the restoration process. Even though many companies state this on their websites. We specialise in Abrasive Blasting for the Automotive Restoration sector and thus our products and techniques are developed solely for this. One of the biggest issues people face when deciding to fully restore a car is cost so they often look for cheaper options for certain parts of the different processes. I’m all for getting bang for buck but this will always come at a price somewhere along the line. The process of stripping the car back to metal is the foundation of your restoration. It’s your starting point so you want to ensure you are getting the right product for your end goal. For this purpose let's look at the most common types of media used in abrasive blasting and why they are good or bad for restoration work.

  1. Sand

We don’t use sand. If you take your project to someone who uses Sand, you get everything you deserve. Consider yourself told.

  1. Garnet

We don’t use Garnet. Garnet is essentially crushed volcanic rock. It is a highly economical option when it comes to abrasive blasting and can be re used multiple times. This is what makes it so cost effective. On the downside if it is not cleaned and recycled properly back into the system whatever was blasted before your job is now being shot at pressure into yours, That’s old paint, body filler and bits of rust.

Garnet also creates excessive heat to body panels. This can, and in most cases will harden the steel to the point where we cannot panel beat any defects or hammer and file without destroying our tools. This leaves very little option but to only use body filler to carry out any repairs to panels

Garnet is also extremely dusty. It gets into every little corner and cavity. Sufficient time is required after blasting to remove the dust from these areas.

Garnet is however extremely cost effective on Chassis’ Industrial equipment and thick steel components such as building construction. It creates a profile on the surface which allows for the direct application of Epoxy Primers or Direct to metal paints.

It’s entirely possible to have your vehicle blasted using Garnet but be prepared that the processes’ around body work post blasting might not be possible depending on your expectations.

  1. Crushed Glass

This is what we use. Crushed glass comes in 2 forms. Recycled Bottle glass or Recycled Windscreens.

Glass is slightly more expensive than Garnet as it is a single use media. This means that we can only use it in our system once before sweeping it up and disposing of it in an Eco friendly manner.

The positive from this is that the glass in our system is free from any impurities which means there is no risk of anything untoward penetrating your panels during this process.

Glass, whilst an abrasive like garnet does not create the same amount of heat when used on panel steel. This means that we can panel beat and even hammer and file without destroying our tools. This has an even more positive effect further down the track as less body filler is required in the Panel and paint process when it comes to bodywork and prep.

Glass will also create a profile on the surface to allow for direct application of Kephos or Epoxy Primer

Glass is also effective on Chassis and some machinery and light industrial equipment but becomes less cost effective on heavy machinery and industrial equipment.

Glass, like Garnet, is also extremely dusty. It gets into every little corner and cavity. Sufficient time is required after blasting to remove the dust from these areas.

Using Glass will see no issues in terms of process or processes post blast regardless of your end goal

  1. Soda

We sometimes use Soda. Soda or Sodium Bi-Carbonate is an effective media for removing paint from a surface where a non abrasive approach is required. It works by the small particles exploding with the surface upon contact. Its non-abrasive nature means it creates no profile on the surface and subsequently results in no “damage” The downside is that you are unable to directly apply any coatings to the surface. Soda has excellent rust inhibiting qualities as it leaves a fine film preventing flash rusting which prolongs the need for immediate coating. This however does need to be neutralised and washed off prior to prepping the surface and application of any coatings. Soda is extremely dusty. Even more so than Garnet or Glass. You must pay more attention to its removal from corners and cavities as any residue left behind will work its way back through any finish coatings. Soda is best used on Cast Alloy parts such as Engine parts where a raw cast finish is required. Soda is also very effective at removing grease and oil without damage so it is perfect for use on Blocks, Heads, Carburettors, Cranks, Cam Shafts, Gears, Valves etc. Soda is very expensive so unless specifically requested or required we do not offer Soda Blasting as a Product or Service. In a Nutshell. We can’t be everything to everyone and the same must be said for all the media blasting companies out there. A one size fits all approach to Automotive blasting may get work in the door but it will not be conducive to the correct result at the end of the process. A quality car restoration is the sum of all its parts so ensure that when you start this journey you select a company like us that understands it’s products, services and processes.

To see this process in action check out this Video from our Facebook page.

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