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Glass bead blasting
16 Sep

When Is It Appropriate to Use Bead Blasting to Clean a Surface?

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  • Tony Williams

When you need to clean certain types of surfaces, you may want to use a blasting technique. Most people are familiar with the term sandblasting. Sandblasting is pretty much what it sounds like. Sand is “blasted” or shot at a surface using very high air pressure. Most of us have experienced the effects of sand on surfaces. We have used sandpaper, and we know how that can smooth out the wood. The rougher the paper, the more it removes. Sand is abrasive, and even our feet can feel smoother when walking on sand as if they have been scrubbed in some way. But while sand is very effective, it is a very harsh abrasive. It can be very hard on sensitive materials.
A similar alternative process is bead blasting. Sandblasting and bead blasting are incredibly effective methods for cleaning hard metal surfaces, removing corrosion, or even strip paint. But there are advantages to using bead blasting that should be considered when starting a project.

What is the Process of Bead Blasting?

Bead blasting requires the use of the proper equipment and the knowledge of what type and size bead is best for the job. Bead blasting is best left to the professionals who are very familiar with the equipment and materials needed. Like sandblasting, it is the process of projecting – blasting – something at a surface creating repeated impact which removes particles from that surface. Bead blasting is a type of shot blasting, releasing fine glass or metal beads, tiny spheres, pointed at the surface in question at the right air pressure for the job, which must be determined before you begin.
Sand is courser than beads and can tear up a surface leaving it more coarse and jagged. In contrast, beads cause more of a dimpling effect and a more uniform and much smoother result for the surface being blasted.
Bead blasting is used when the need for consistency is a crucial factor: the finer the bead, the more satin-like the finish. Fine glass bead blasting is very effective when cleaning surfaces made of aluminum and other metal surfaces, resulting in a brighter, whiter, rather than a discolored finish.
Bead blasting has versatile uses, including cleaning away rust and corrosion, removing calcium deposits from tiles and grout, and cleaning flooring. Its also used to smooth out concrete surfaces prepared to be sealed. This process can also be used on glass, rubber, and plastic surfaces.
There are two basic types of bead blasting, glass bead blasting, and steel shot bead blasting.

Steel Bead Blasting
To make the steel beads needed for bead blasting, once heated, molten steel is poured into round molds. Both glass and steel beads are not terribly expensive to make, and both can be recycled, which saves both cost and the environment. If the task is to remove contaminants like rust or old hardened paint from hard surfaces, steel beads might be the better choice. The steel beads are harder than the glass beads and may be needed for more challenging jobs.

Glass Bead Blasting
Bead blasting uses much lower air pressure than that which is used in sandblasting. When needing to clean or strip materials that require the process to be gentler, glass bead blasting is likely the best choice. Using these tiny glass beads, while effective, will be a slower process, but the end result is less chance of damaging the surfaces you are trying to strip.
The glass beads used in bead blasting are environmentally friendly. They are softer on surfaces, do not include lead, and can be recycled as many as 30 times. The blasting machine will have a sort of vacuum that catches all the particles blasted into the air, which captures and separates out the beads to be recycled and reused.

Is Bead Blasting Safer Than Sand Blasting?

Any blasting process should be handled by experienced professionals with top-quality equipment and a lot of product knowledge. Bead blasting is less dangerous than sandblasting, but safety equipment such as goggles and gloves are required. Knowing what size, type, and weight beads are correct to use for each application is essential.

When sandblasting, you have to consider the after product that is created. This is called silica dust. This dust is bad for the environment and bad for humans breathing it in. There are serious regulations in place regarding sandblasting because of these factors.

Bead blasting, especially using glass beads, is a far safer option, more environmentally friendly as there is no silica dust created due to the blast, and no lead is used in the making of these recyclable beads.

If you are in the greater Houston Texas area and have a building that has surfaces that need cleaning and special care or a large concrete surface that needs to be blasted clean and prepared for sealing, we would be happy to come out and give you a quote for our professional bead blasting services. Please call us today at (713) 462-6900.

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