Bead blasting is a high-pressure surface cleaning method that is less abrasive and damaging than other blasting techniques, such as sandblasting.
The preferred bead blasting materials are small, spherical, lead-free, soda-lime glass particles as they are environmentally friendly and will not pollute ground water if any residue is washed off into the water supply.
Most glass bead blasting material is also perfectly safe to vacuum up, and the beads are so durable they can be recycled back into the blasting process as many as 30 times.
Silicon carbide or stainless steel beads are usually also added to the glass, and these material combined produce what is termed a satin look – half way between dull and high gloss. Sometimes ground quartz is used to give a shinier, rougher surface that takes paint more easily.
The beads are blasted onto the surface using either air or water.
Air Bead Blasting
This is the perfect method to use when cleaning metal surfaces such as titanium, stainless steel and aluminum in the automotive industry, or softer metals such as brass, copper and silver for jewelry. It is ideal for cleaning corroded metal, preparing surfaces for paint or other coatings, and removing cosmetic imperfections.
This is an inexpensive method, as the air pressure equipment is powered in the same way as everyday pneumatic tools. The process has the added advantage of hardening the metal through compaction, giving it increased resistance to fatigue and future scratches or other damage.
Wet Bead Blasting
This method uses beads and streams of water. It typically requires less energy than most air blasting methods, and offers much easier cleanup afterwards. Wet blasting is usually used to clean both hard and soft stone on buildings, such as concrete, flagstone, granite, clay brick and sandstone.
Ordinary tap water can be used, making any non-recycled leftover medium safe for disposal in residential landfills.
While many items respond well to this type of cleaning method, the most common applications are:
* Cleaning calcium deposits from pool tiles
* Removing embedded fungus and brightening grout
* Automotive paint stripping
* Architectural features such as face plates and door handles
* Marine deck and engine components
* Food processing equipment
* Firearms & munitions
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