What is Vapor Blasting Used For?
Vapor blasting is a non-destructive cleaning method that does not remove any of the original part. In most cases, it is used to clean surfaces where other traditional methods would be ineffective. This includes removing airborne contamination from areas such as ejector marks on injection molded plastic parts, cutting oil, and removing contaminants from hard to reach areas of metal castings.
Vapor blasting works by using a pressurized air supply at high-speed to violently impact the surface of a material. The air atomizes the contaminant so that it can be removed from the area.
Positives of Vapor
Vapor blasting is often chosen over other cleaning methods because it is environmentally friendly, it produces no hazardous or explosive byproducts, and it can be used to clean parts without destroying them. Vapor blasting also removes contaminants that are difficult to remove with conventional solvents, which reduces machining time and the resulting need for re-finishing.
In addition to being used in manufacturing, vapor blasting can also be used to clean warehouses and other industrial environments from contaminants such as dust and dirt. It is often used with all types of metal surfaces because it removes the most difficult-to-clean contaminants and leaves no residue behind. Vapor blasting is also used to clean other surfaces, such as wood and concrete.
How Does Vapor Blasting Work?
The first step in vapor blasting is to pressurize the air supply. The higher the pressure of the air supply, the more effective it will be at removing what you need to from a surface. In order for vapor blasting to work correctly, the air pressure needs to be high enough that the impact velocity is at least 1/3 of the speed of sound.
Air atomizes any contaminant that it comes into contact with by violently impacting the surface and breaking down contaminants into tiny particles. The higher the velocity of the air stream, the smaller these particles will be. This enables the particles to be more easily removed from the surface.
Are Slurry Blasting, Wet Blasting, and Vapor Blasting the Same?
The terms vapor blasting, slurry, and wet blasting are typically used under the assumption that they are the same thing. In reality, there are differences in the process of blasting techniques, blasting methods, and abrasive impacts. Let's take a look at what vapor, slurry, and wet blasting actually are, the other methods involved, and how they work.
What differentiates these three blast methods is how the abrasive media mix is taken from the pot and then out of the blast nozzle. Vapors are drawn out and into the blast hose with compressed air after being forced out of the pot by water pressure within the vessel.
Dustless Blasting/Wet Blasting
This is different from our Dustless Blasting, or wet blasting machines, which forces high-pressure air through the pot, carrying the abrasive media/blast media and water mixture out of the blast pot together and into the hose.
Slurry blasting equipment takes dry abrasive blasting and simply adds water at the nozzle in order to better suppress dust. With this process, you can avoid leaving blasting media soaking in the blast pot.
Wet Blasting Applications
Vapor blasting is used in a wide variety of applications, including:
As previously mentioned, vapor blasting can be used to clean contaminants from injection molded plastics. It is also used to clean machine tools and other metal components after the manufacturing process. Vapor blasting is often used for cleaning castings due to its ability to remove contaminants without damaging the metal.
Warehouses and Industrial Environments
Vapor blasting can be used to clean warehouses and other industrial environments from contaminants such as dust and dirt. It is often used with all types of metal castings because it removes the most difficult-to-clean contaminants and leaves no residue behind. Vapor blasting is also used to clean other surfaces, such as wood and concrete.
Vapor blasting can be used to clean molds and production dies in a model shop setting. It is also often used for removing cutting oil from metal components after the manufacturing process.
Vapor blasting is commonly used to clean metal castings after the fabrication process. It can be used for vapor blasting on a variety of metals, including carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, copper alloys, aluminum alloys, and titanium.
In some cases vapor blasting is used during the manufacturing of molds. It is also used to clean finished molds after their use. Vapor blasting can remove dangerous mold coatings, such as urethanes, epoxies, and resins.
Vapor blasting is commonly used in boat manufacturing plants due to its ability to remove sanding dust created from the surface of a boat without causing damage.
Vapor blasting is also used in an automotive manufacturing setting, where vapor blast cleaning is preferred over acid etching due to its non-destructive properties. In addition to vapor blasting on metal castings, vapor blasting is used as part of a paint-removal process. Paint and painted parts that have been vapor blasted are easily removed.
Vapor Blasting Vs Sandblasting
Many people assume that vapor blasting is merely sandblasting, or dry blasting, with water and not sand. This is not the case. Sandblasting uses abrasive material to physically remove contaminants from a surface, while vapor blasting does not.
Vapor also produces fewer airborne particles than sandblasting. Traditional sandblasting creates millions of microscopic particles that can get into the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as silicosis. Unlike dry blasting, vapor produces significantly less air particles so it is not nearly as dangerous to the respiratory system.
It should be noted, though, that injecting water into a sandblast nozzle has been shown to increase the life of abrasive particles by reducing oxidation. Also, vapor blasting still uses sand as its abrasive material source.
Stay Safe with Your Vapor Blasting Machines
And as always, here are a few points to remember to stay safe while vapor blasting:
·Make sure that you are allowed to handle any material that will be vapor blasted by your insurance company.
·Avoid using flammable cleaning products when vapor blasting.
·Keep all electrical cords away from any materials being vapor blasted to prevent unintentional ignition sources.
What Additional Tools Do I Need For Wet Blasting?
Every wet blaster should have the proper tools while out on the job. Here are a few items that will help make your life easier whether you're dry or wet blasting.
Abrasive Blast Nozzles
An assortment of nozzles. Selecting the right nozzle is crucial for getting optimal results because every nozzle has a different purpose and blast pattern. But not only that, every vapor blasting equipment requires a certain size nozzle depending on your air compressor.
Personal protective equipment. Staying safe on the job is essential. Always make sure your eyes, ears and hands are protected while blasting and that you have supplied air.
Extra Blast Hose
Power brooms for cleaning up after the job.
Bagsters can contain up to 3,300 lbs of spent media or waste. This is a must-have for cleaning up once the job is done. Simply dump your spent media into the bag and pay to have it properly disposed of.
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