Technically speaking, the word “sandblaster” should refer only to a media blasting machine that makes use of silica particles, but the designation is used to describe any media blaster, regardless of its blasting media.
A variety of sandblasters are used to accomplish equally varied tasks: bead blasters use small glass particles to clean pool tiles, shot peening equipment is used to improve the qualities of metal surfaces and soda blasting equipment uses a concentrated stream of bicarbonate of soda to remove all kinds of surface impurities. In order to propel the media, every media blaster requires compressed air or pressurized water.
Each blasting system is, for that reason, equipped with an air compressor or water pressurizing system. These can be gas or electric powered. The means by which the abrasive media and compressed air or water are combined relates directly to the blasting system’s efficiency and effectiveness.
In portable systems, gravity can be used to mix media with compressed air, but this system limits the volume of media that can be used, which limits the scale of blasting projects. Siphon and pressure systems are more effective because they can draw from a larger supply of media, though not all media blasting projects call for large supplies of media.
A sandblasting professional can use abrasive media blasting machinery for many purposes, but the process by which media blasting machines accomplish the varied tasks assigned to them is always the same: compressed air or water propels small, abrasive materials toward a surface in order to change its properties; this concept is one of just a few that all media blasters share in common.
Media blasters are designed in a wide range of sizes and configurations to accommodate the varied demands for media blasting services. For companies that offer blasting services for small parts on a large scale, an automated blasting system may be effective as it can allow for a continuous treatment stream with a minimum of technical supervision.
For companies that offer careful, specialized blasting of specific objects, a blasting cabinet may be a more appropriate choice, as it allows technicians the most control over the process while minimizing risk of personal injury.
Portable media blasters are necessary for blasting professionals who offer their services to clients whose property has been vandalized, is at risk for corrosion or which requires treatment like painting or finishing.