Abrasive Blast Media Recovery – A Complete Guide
Whether you’re a powder coater, paint job shop, manufacturer, or sandblaster you may wonder about recovering abrasive blast media. I often get asked questions about why you would want to recover abrasive blast media, different options that are available to recover abrasive blast media, and the costs associated with the different abrasive blast media recovery options. This article will aim to address these questions so you can fully know answers to these questions and more.
WHY Recover abrasive blast media?
Before considering how you can recover abrasive blast media it is first important to understand why recovering abrasive blast media can make sense. The first reason that recovering abrasive blast media can make sense is that it can reduce your blast media costs. Recycling sandblast media is exceptionally helpful when you have the ability to properly clean the blast media in before using it again like when using a mechanical or pneumatic blast media recovery system. The potential savings can be huge as blast media that is recyclable like steel grit, for example, can be used upward of a 100 times for an initial cost of $500 – $1200 dollars per ton for steel grit compared to $300 for expendable blast media like coal slag. This can easily add up to significant savings click here for calculator to determine blast media savings.
Options for how to recover abrasive blast media
In general, there are 3 primary options that exist to recover abrasive blast media. First, you can use an abrasive blast system with a vacuum recovery system for the blast media. Second, you can use a basic shovel and finally you can use a mechanical or pneumatic blast media recovery system. Will cover each in greater detail.
Option 1 – Abrasive Blast System with Vacuum Recovery System
These type of abrasive blast media recovery equipment are offered in two primary types. One is intended to allow you to blast and then use a vacuum attachment after you have finished blasting to pick up the spent blast media (photo of example below also seen here). This system is helpful because it can help reduce issues with abrasive blast media disposal if your blast project will require you to recover all blast media. When used in blast mode followed by vacuum recovery it will also be a bit faster than the setup that sucks all media as it blasts the product surface. However, the vacuum recovery system will utilize a large amount of compressed air (often times more than standard air blasting) and is typically limited to lighter medias (no steel grits). In short, if speed and being able to recover blast media in a portable format is important this can be a great option.
The second abrasive blast system with vacuum recovery that is offered is meant to be used in a continuous manner where the media is delivered to a product's surface and then immediately suctioned back in a continuous fashion. This option is slower than blasting followed by vacuuming because the unit has to be able to simultaneously blast and vacuum. However by suctioning media at the same time that blasting occurs, it prevents blast media from spilling at all. This can make this type of unit (seen below or here) perfectly suited for smaller indoor work where having sandblast dust contamination is a problem as well as a variety of indoor projects.
A third option is to combine the option to suction blast media while blasting or to use the unit to suction up blast media after it has been used which is offered in a unit like this unit.
Option 2 – Abrasive blast media recovery hoppers
This option consists of either a pneumatic or mechanical recovery system. With a pneumatic blast media recovery system movement of air across a recovery trough delivers sandblast media to a blast media reclaimer which properly filters out blast media that has become small as well as any other foreign material in the blast media. After the blast media reclaimer, the blast media returns to a sandblast pot which can then be used to continue sandblasting. There is typically some shoveling done with this or a mechanical recovery method but overall can be limited by blasting in the direction of your blast media recovery equipment. Pneumatic blast media recovery systems can easily be used with blast medias like aluminum oxide, glass beads, or plastics, and potentially steel grit but usually only with smaller grit sizes and a larger dust collector.
Another option for a blast media recovery hopper is a mechanical blast media recovery system. A mechanical blast media recovery system is what is most commonly used with steel grit as it is easily able to continually deliver the heavy steel grit sandblast blast media to a blast pot without equipment troubles long term. For more on pneumatic vs mechanical blast media recovery.
A final option available that provides a hopper style blast media recovery unit but is offered in a portable format is shown below. The main downside to a unit like this is that you have to lift media into it or be creative in finding a way to create a ramp up to the hopper that will work. For the most part, if you plan on having one room that will always be your sandblasting room the two options above are usually best suited but if you do not know if you will have one permanent room for blasting this option may serve as an alternative.
Option 3 – Shoveling your blast media back into the blast pot
There are a variety of challenges associated with shoveling blast media but it is also the least expensive in terms of equipment as a basic shovel is only a few dollars. However, trying to shovel sandblast media for reuse typically will result in you putting sandblast media back in your sandblast pot that could be significantly fragmented or filled with debris. The problem with fragmented blast media is that it will result in significantly slower production which ultimately can lead to inefficient blasting and increased labor costs on sandblasting projects. Additionally, it can be a safety risk for workers as lifting blast media up to the blast pot can lead to risk for back injuries or similar problems, especially with heavier blast medias like steel grit which can weigh hundreds of pounds per cubic foot of blast media. Ultimately shoveling blast media for reuse should generally be limited in use for an occasional job where you may be using a blast media that offers a few cycles before it is completely spent but is generally a lighter blast media like some of multi use coal slag medias available on the market today.
Abrasive Blast Media Recovery Systems Costs
After knowing the options that exist to recover abrasive blast media you may be wondering how much different equipment options cost. For our purposes will reference industrial designed blast media recycling equipment price ranges.
Abrasive Blast System with Vacuum
For an abrasive blast system with a vacuum price will depend on the size of the unit you decide on as these units can vary from small for touch up work to a large unit meant to be used in place of a standard sandblast pot. For a small touch up unit, you can expect to pay around 2,000 dollars while for a middle of the line unit prices will typically be around $9000. When you get into the large units costs are usually around $16,000.
Abrasive Blast Media Recovery Hopper System Costs
For a complete mechanical blast media recovery system you can expect to pay around $28,000 for a new system. This wouldn’t include a properly sized dust collector for your blast room which can easily add an additional $27,000 or more for the dust collector. These prices wouldn’t include any additional items like an abrasive media conveyor. A pneumatic blast media hopper system will typically cost around $20,000 depending on the type of collector that would be used with the system while the dust collector for the blast room would start around $27,000. For more on blast rooms and their costs you can review this guide here. The final hopper recovery system would be the unit on a skid which costs around $25,000 for the complete unit.
Ultimately depending on your blast application, recovering abrasive blast media can make a lot of sense as it will reduce your blast media costs. Which options will make sense depends on if your blasting in a single location at all times or constantly changing locations and the type of blast media you will use.