What media should I use?

Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO₃)

At Dana-Ridge we often get enquiries about this blast media. There seems to be a misconception that it gives a nice bright finish. Many times, we find that glass bead is a better option. It does have some benefits however and in a wetblast machine you get longer life of the media thanks to the water cushioning effect. 

Advantages of Soda

  • Friable – soft angular grains readily fracture into smaller particles softening the impact on substrates.
  • Dissolves in water
  • Safe to use on virtually any substrate, including delicate surfaces, rotating equipment and moving parts but still able to remove coatings.
  • Able to be washed out of internals easily meaning no damage to moving parts.

Disadvantages of Soda

  • Unable to remove rust and scale
  • Gives a matte finish (may be an advantage if it is the desired effect)
  • Shorter media life
  • Slightly alkaline, causing crystals to form on blasted parts (this can be neutralised in a slightly acidic solution of vinegar and water after blasting)
  • In a dry sandblasting cabinet water is an issue (not in our wet system though)

Plastic media

The most common request for plastic media comes from aircraft manufacturers and the like. They want a media that will strip and clean but where etching of the underlying substrate cannot be tolerated. As you can imagine, aircraft manufacturers have to be very precise with their tolerances and the Dana-Ridge wetblast system can combine both the qualities of the plastic and the water cushioning aspect of the wet blast unit giving even more advantages.

Advantages of Plastic Media

  • Gentle non-abrading action where no damage to the substrate can be tolerated but top coating needs removing
  • As plastic impacts the blasted part the plastic breaks and creates a new cutting surface/shape

Disadvantages of Plastic Media

  • Anti-static agent required in dry blasters (no need for such a thing in our wet system).
  • Still a soft media and you won’t get a bright finish of a glass bead nor the aggression of an oxide or crushed glass.
  • Not durable compared to other media types

Glass Bead

An environmentally friendly spherical media providing many useful characteristics. It comes in a variety of sizes. The following table gives an idea of how to choose. The grades we supply range from the letter designations AH (very fine) through to the larger C and B grades. There are more sizes available upon request. The wetblast system gives a superior finish to dry sandblaster as the water cushion changes the way the bead interacts with the part.

Advantages of Glass Bead

  • Range of options and finishes depending on desired effects
  • Stress relieving properties and peening action. More-so with the larger bead
  • Typically gives the nice bright finish on blasted metal
  • Not as rough as an angular grit
  • More of a pushing/scrubbing action than a ripping action you get with angular grit
  • Available in a range of sizes
  • Environmentally friendly

Disadvantages of Glass Bead

  • Peening effect with larger bead (disadvantage if not a desired outcome)
  • Not as rough as an angular grit (may also be an advantage)
  • Need to ensure none gets left behind in components with moving parts or close tolerances.

Crushed Glass

Crushed glass allows a cheap way of removing coatings and profiling the surface of a part. The angular nature means it is more aggressive and allows a fast processing.

Advantages of Crushed Glass

  • Cheaper than glass bead and aluminium oxide
  • Quick and effective for stripping coatings
  • Offers aggressive surface profiling
  • Made from recycled bottle glass
  • Available in a range of sizes
  • Environmentally friendly

Disadvantages of Crushed Glass

  • Softer and not as durable as aluminium oxide
  • Angular grit wears with use and becomes more rounded

Garnet

A dense, tough, high performance, cost effective media that is great for providing a rough surface that will allow paint and other coatings get a grip on the freshly blasted surface.

Advantages of Garnet

  • Harder than crushed glass
  • Cost effective
  • Good for providing a keyed surface for surface recoating

Disadvantages of Garnet

  • Harsher on softer material such as aluminium
  • Creates a matte finish

Aluminium Oxide

One step down from diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale, aluminium oxide is a sharp, dense, long lasting abrasive that is highly efficient and durable. It will clean and etch all types of surfaces and is one of the fastest cutting abrasives available. It comes in different sizes and also different quality grades, Brown, pink and white.

Advantages of Aluminium Oxide

  • Tough and durable
  • Creates a profiled surface
  • Variety of sizes and purity levels

Disadvantages of Aluminium Oxide

Usually must be careful not to breathe the dust (not an issue in the Dana-Ridge wetblast process)

More expensive (although lasts longer)

Below is a table showing some of the more common grades of blasting media supplied by Dana-Ridge (other sizes and grades available upon request).

Dana-Ridge can supply all your wetblast media needs