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Pneumatic vs Mechanical Sandblast Media Recovery

Recovering sandblast media is one of the best ways to save on your sandblast costs which you can get a good idea of how much you can potentially save on sandblast media by recycling media you can check out this free spreadsheet here. If recovering sandblast media makes sense for your production needs, you are most likely evaluating how you will reclaim your blast media. The two most common ways of reclaiming sandblast media are mechanically and pneumatically. We will discuss both methods of recoveries, theirs benefits and drawbacks, and when they might be appropriate for your sandblast media recovery needs.

Pneumatic Sandblast Media Recovery

What is Pneumatic Sandblast Media Recovery?

Pneumatic sandblast media recovery is what is employed in systems like the Clemco M Section Recovery System.  It uses suction to pull media through the recovery system up into the sandblast media reclaimer.  The vacuum is pulled from the dust collector which is after the sandblast media reclaimer.

Pneumatic Sandblast Media Recovery Pros

  • More recovery area at a lower cost – You often times can obtain greater recovery area at a lower price with a pneumatic recovery system. The cost difference is due to pneumatic recovery systems not needing a lot of components which mechanical recovery systems use.
  • Portability – If you need a system that will allow for recovery while not requiring permanent installation of equipment there are pneumatic recovery systems that are skid mounted. These sort of systems are ideal if you do not have heavy production needs but rather need portability for your recoverable blast media needs.
  • Lower Maintenance needs – Since a pneumatic blast system does not have mechanical components involved in the recovery system it will typically have less maintenance needs .

Pneumatic Sandblast Media Recovery Cons

  • Heavy Bodied Sandblast Media Limitations – Since a pneumatic sandblast recovery system uses suction to move media into the blast media reclaimer, it is often limited in the media it can effectively use. As a general rule pneumatic blast media recovery systems will not work with steel grit or steel shot (which are some of the most common medias that are reclaimed).  Steel grit and steel shot are some of the most reusable blast medias, often being able to be reused 150 times or more depending on your application, which can make this limitation a challenge as you may not recover your equipment cost as fast with a less reusable media.

What is Mechanical Sandblast Media Recovery?

Mechanical Sandblast Media Recovery makes use of bucket elevators on a belt to bring media to a media reclaimer. Depending on the system it may also have a conveyor belt, screw, or oscillating blades to add a larger floor space to recover the blast media. The mechanical blast media reclaim systems has its benefits and drawbacks as well.

Mechanical Sandblast Media Recovery System Pros

  • Can be used with Heavy Bodied Sandblast Medias – If your blast application requires steel shot or steel grit a mechanical recovery system will be ideal as it will easily accommodate heavy bodied sandblast medias.
  • Can Accommodate Larger floor Areas  Mechanical Blast Media Recovery systems can be sized to use with any sized floor you need.
  • Able to handle higher production needs – A pneumatic blast recovery system will open and close channels in a floor to enable media to be recovered from different floor sections which will cause it to be slower at recovering high volumes of blast media. If you will be blasting with large blast nozzles for long periods of the day a mechanical recovery system will be able to better keep up with high production.

Mechanical Sandblast Media Recovery System Cons

  • Greater maintenance requirements – Do to having moving parts mechanical recovery systems will have a greater need for routine maintenance items to be performed.
  • Costs – A large floor mechanical recovery section will be a high cost due to all the mechanical components required.


When is Pneumatic Recovery Ideal?

  • Pneumatic recovery systems are ideal for applications that use lighter recyclable medias like aluminum oxide, baking soda, or plastic beads
  • They are also ideal when a portable system – If you need to use steel grit with a portable system make sure the pneumatic system can handle a heavy media

When is Mechanical Recovery Ideal?

  • Mechanical recovery is ideal for high production needs as it can accommodate any size recovery area that you will need
  • Mechanical blast media recovery is ideal for heavy bodied medias like steel shot and steel grit


Choosing the right type of sandblast media recovery is critical to ensure you can meet production goals and effectively recover your sandblast media. To ensure you use the proper recovery system for your sandblast media consider the tips above, you can also contact us and we can help you determine which media recovery system will be best suited for your sandblast application.

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