Wet or Vapour blasting is a mechanical method of cleaning and preparing a surface. It employs a water/ media mix, a pump together with added pressurised air. The process is widely used for a range of applications from general cleaning through to highly technical and accepted standards for industries including; aerospace, nuclear, the food industry, medical, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, utilities, powertrain, motorsport and automotive. The process is a very economical, versatile and efficient cleaning and finishing process and is used in a wide range of both general and specialised surface preparation work.
Wet / vapour blasting can create an infinite number of surface conditions as a result of variable machine settings by way of pressure, volume, automation level, media choice (type, size and density) which combined allow for the widest of flexibility as to your requirements, both current and future.
Wet/ vapour blasting advantages over dry blasting:
- Media is transported to the point of action in water and so has a “cushioned” impact on the surface of the material being blasted. This creates a differnet surface profile than dry blasting in that the appearance is one of a more ‘scoured’ finish, rather than ‘impacted’
- The component surfaces are bombarded by a recirculating high volume of waterborne abrasive media particulate leaving a more “sateen” type finish, even when aluminium oxide is employed
- Wet blasted surfaces are smoother, due to the scouring operation
- Wet blasting is more tolerant to already wet surfaces and/or cutting oil which will cause contamination in dry blasting
- Wet blasting has potential to ‘clean’ internal bores due to the use of water as the media carrier
- Wet blasting does not create static electricity as it constantly diffueses, naturally
WET “peening” is also possible and applications provide a very controlled process for the stress relief of delicate components as well as light peening of more substantial parts. It can also complement and act as a secondary operation after heavier dry peeing, to remove any outstanding surface peaks and clean the surface of any unwanted impurities.
Due to the range of applications wet blast cabinets have established themselves as a ‘standard’ choice for the majority of surface finishing processes. An improvement on individual hand finishing cabinets offer many advantages for the manufacturing industry:
- It is a self-contained and as a manually operated process, parts can be examined during processing
- It can be manual, semi automated or fully automated as required
- It can be incorporated into production lines
- Media is induced to flow into previously inaccessible areas of the component
- Cabinets are usually free standing on a firm, level floor
- The media / water mix (slurry) is recycled for use over a long period
- Automation and added peripheries can be added to eliminate environmental waste issues
Wet or Vapour blasting can also sometimes save components that can’t be reclaimed by other methods. An example of this has been older, almost obsolete electronic boards. These can be cleaned without deterioration of the board’s components, whilst eliminating the risk of static electric build-up that would damage circuit components.
For more on this see our blog post: How a Wet Blast Machine Works
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Post written by
Shot Blasting Technical Manager