Bead Blasting, Pros and Cons and Applications
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Surface finishing is the final step in the CNC machining process, and surface finish is of functional and aesthetic importance for industrial parts. With the rapid growth of industry and tighter tolerances, high-precision products require better surface finishes. Parts that look good enjoy a significant advantage in the marketplace. Aesthetically pleasing external surface finishes can have a significant impact on the marketing performance of a part.
There are a variety of surface finishing techniques available and options for CNC machined parts. From the simple heat treatment, we mentioned in the last blog to nickel plating or anodizing. In this article we will dive into bead blasting, which is a very widely used surface treatment process. Also, you can contact our engineers for information about our blasting services.
Prolean’s bead blasting service
Overview of Bead Blasting
Abrasive blasting is the most widely known form of surface treatment. Usually using compressed air, a stream of abrasive material (blasting media) is pushed against the surface to affect the surface finish. This method improves the bonding effect between the coating and the substrate, and is an effective and economical alternative to chemical cleaning.
Many people may be familiar with sandblasting, but it actually refers to a broad class of surface treatments, common sandblasting processes include: sandblasting, vapor blasting, vacuum blasting, wheel blasting, and bead blasting. A more specific definition of bead blasting is that the blasting media used to prepare the surface is a round spherical media, usually glass beads. In addition, blasting is commonly used to finish, clean, deburr and blast the surface of an object.
How does Bead Blasting Work?
Bead Blasting machine
Most abrasive blasting is done with a serrated media and leaves a “rougher” surface finish. However, the bead blasting process uses a blasting medium – beads – under high pressure. Pushing the beads on the surface cleans, polishes or roughens the surface to the desired finish. These beads are shot at the part from a high-pressure bead blaster. When the beads hit the surface, the impact creates a uniform “depression” in the surface. Bead blasting cleans corroded metal, removes cosmetic defects such as texture and contaminants, and prepares parts for paint and other coatings.
Bead Blasting Media
Glass blasting beads
Glass blasting beads are becoming increasingly popular in today’s industrial blasting facilities, especially for CNC materials machined from steel, aluminum and their alloys. This is because it is a fairly aggressive media, leaving less than 2% embedded and free of dust. Broken glass blasting media is also very cost effective, often made from recycled bottles, and is even reused many times before being replaced.
Glass beads are also silica-free and inert, so they are environmentally friendly and do not leave any unwanted residue on your substrates. It has a rating of approximately 6 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it hard enough to cut through rust and leave a perfect anchoring pattern for coating applications.
- Mohs hardness 5-6
- Also available in military specification or military specification, size
- Bulk density is approximately 100 lbs. per cubic foot
Type of Beads and Their Benefits
Glass beads: An environmentally friendly, chemical-free option for more delicate items.
Brown Aluminum Oxide Beads: A more aggressive polish for heavily rusted items that need to be cleaned.
White Aluminum Oxide Beads: The ideal heavy-duty choice that won’t compromise the integrity of your equipment.
Disadvantage of Bead Blasting
It does not clean as fast as other media and will not last as long as harder blasting media such as steel. Since glass is not as hard as steel grit, steel shot or even cinder, it does not clean as fast as these blasting media. In addition, glass beads do not leave a profile, which can be problematic if you need the profile to adhere to paint. Finally, compared to steel grit or steel shot, aluminum oxide glass bead blasting media can only be reused a few times, while steel blasting media can be reused many times.
Application at a Glance
- Cosmetic and satin finishes
- Sandblast cleaning when metal needs to be removed from the workpiece
- Mold cleaning
- Automotive restoration
- Light to medium blasting of metal parts to reduce fatigue
- Carbon or heat treatment descaling
Although sandblasting is widely used and has unique properties. However, blast cleaning operations pose a risk to the health and safety of workers, especially in the blast room where large amounts of dust are generated from substrates and abrasives by blasting, which can be potentially harmful to operators, but we provide workers with protective facilities and safety procedures to ensure safety whenever possible. We also use vapor blasting process that provides a unique surface finish while reducing contamination. You can always contact our engineers for the latest advice.
Post time: Apr-25-2022