Sand blasting is probably the most commonly used type of blasting, but there are several other ways that abrasive blasting can be done. Some shops offer blasting as a service to industrial customers, while other manufacturers sell blasting equipment directly to companies in restoration or repair industries.
For sandblasting, a high pressure air blast system shoots sand through a nozzle that is pointed at the part being cleaned. The force of the sand hitting the metal causes abrasion that smoothes the surface out, restoring it to its original quality. Sandblasting is used on vehicle restoration projects to treat car parts that have been taken apart before they are coated with a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes this is the only way to restore the car to its original appearance.
Other types of blasting equipment use hydro-blasting, wheel-blasting, dry-ice blasting and automated blasting. These are all good for abrasion, but some may be optimal for particular applications. Hydro-blasting, for example, uses highly pressurized water to blast surfaces like the exterior walls of buildings. Dry-ice blasting uses air and dry-ice under pressure that are ejected from a nozzle. This effectively removes surface contaminants due to of the force of the carbon dioxide.
Blasting equipment can be manufactured in both portable and stationary sizes. Portable systems are usually powered by a diesel air compressor. The compressor fills a blast pot with pressurized air. This pot is where the air interacts with the abrasive materials and then travels through a hose to the nozzle where it is shot out. A blast cabinet is a stationary blasting unit where parts are placed in a tightly sealed enclosure.
A foot pedal turns the blaster on and off and the operator can see the object through a small window and move it by inserting his or her hands into rubber gloves that are built into the side of the machine. A blast room is like a larger version of a blast cabinet where the operator works inside while wearing heavy protective equipment.