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003 Cleaning Plastic and Rubber

Although wetblasters are  primarily known for their superior ability to clean metal surfaces, they can also be used to clean plastics and rubbers. Such is the range of these machines that you can not only blast off tough powder coated parts but you can also frost glass surfaces or clean the more delicate surfaces of  aluminium and brass without destroying the piece or embedding media into it.

In these pictures we have cleaned parts that would have been ruined in a dry-blast setup. The combination of the water cushion and its cooling effect, mean the machines can be gentle or aggressive, depending on your needs.  You can blast rubber parts as much as you like and you will be unlikely to damage them. This is because the media and water are deflected readily from the material. Plastic has less “give” so if you want to roughen the surface you can, or as we’ve done with this part, lightly clean it using the gentlest settings.

We wanted to clean the part but keep any changes to the underlying surface to a minimum.  We did it by using a very fine glass bead (AH) that has the consistency almost like flour and then used the slurry from the pump to do the work (no compressed air). These industrial machines have an excellent flow and volume of media compared with home handyman units, so the high volume, “low pressure” pump can pump 25-28psi with the smaller machines and up to 60 psi on the big units before you even add the compressed air! 

The high flow and volume is what allows the machines to be so efficient at what they do and as we know, time is money.

We have done a plastic seat-belt attachment cover from a fifty-year-old car along with some rubber parts and as you can see, they have come up looking like new. We will be doing some window rubbers from the same car soon and will post the results.

Here is  a brake pedal that has been stomped on for the last 50 years and now cleaned with AH glass bead at around 80 psi. As you can see it cleaned up the rubber nicely. Not only that, it removed the black text while leaving the embossed lettering on the metal perfectly intact, like magic! 

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Once you have one of these machines, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!