“Can you blast sensitive parts?”
Typically, when I get this question, the customer is asking about a smaller part they want cleaned – a firearm, a knife, an oily piston, or something tarnished. They don’t want the current coating (if any) removed, they just want the part cleaned up.
I find myself explaining frequently that the blasting services we offer are not exactly gentle. It’s more of a heavy-handed stripping.
The blasting we do serves as a precursor to coating – its function is to cut through whatever rust and old coating is currently on the part, and prepare the part for future coating by imparting a surface profile. This means that the parts we blast come out with a gritty texture, like sandpaper. Some will be rougher than others, depending on the blast media we use, but they’ll all have a certain amount of surface profile. The surface profile is necessary for proper coating adhesion, which is the whole reason we blast in the first place.
When a customer asks if we can clean a part, “surface profile” typically isn’t the look they’re going for. Often, I have them send me a test piece so that I can return it to them with a blast profile – this helps them see for themselves that the blasting services we offer might not be a good fit for their vision.
Of course, there are plenty of media options that are perfect for clean-up jobs: corn cobs, walnuts, soda, even vapor and/or water blasting. Vapor blasting consists of crushed glass (which is a medium we already use), suspended in water rather than air. The water protects the part’s surface, causing the crushed glass to have a cleaning effect rather than a stripping effect.
I’ve started researching these options as we get more and more requests for part cleaning. If customers continue to request this service, we hope to be able to meet those needs down the road (stay tuned for that!).
For now, we’re all about that surface profile.