Sandblasting Aluminum- A Complete Guide
While aluminum is not as common to need to blast as other surfaces like steel, it can be needed at times, whether to remove paint off an aluminum bus or boat or something different there are a few key things to know when sandblasting aluminum to ensure you get good results.
Key 1 for Blasting Aluminum – Blast Media Choice
One of the greatest keys to successfully blasting aluminum surfaces is choosing a sandblast media that is appropriate. You cannot use steel based blast medias with aluminum surfaces because steel media will impregnate the aluminum surface and create corrosion. Other blast media considerations will include cost effectiveness and the end appearance of the surface. If your looking to only strip a coating without causing harm to the surface blast media like glass beads and baking soda are great choices, if you need to leave a profile for repaint you can consider options like crushed glass or aluminum oxide, the aluminum oxide will be faster than crushed glass but can be initially more expensive. If a polished look is the end goal typically this will be best accomplished with glass bead media and may require some polishing afterwards.
Key 2 for Sandblasting Aluminum – Sandblast Pressure
In addition the sandblast media you use, another key factor will be the pressure you blast at. Most of the time aluminum panels tend to be used in thinner thicknesses making them potentially susceptible to warping when blasted. In order to avoid warping and/or creating significant indentations in the product’s surface, consider starting with your pressure set very low and gradually increasing. Typically you will end up with a blasting pressure of around 50 – 60 PSI, however, to be sure you do not create any issues with warping or indents it is best to start at the lowest pressure you can and gradually increase the pressure.
Key 3 for Sandblasting Aluminum – Complete a Small spot Test
This step can be the most important to ensure you get good results when sandblasting aluminum because while we have provided what has usually works well each specific project has its own unique factors to deal with and completing a small test blast will definitively show the end result a given blast media and pressure will provide as well as how long it will take to blast, helping you to properly bid your blasting work and ensure you like the result of the media and pressure you have chosen. More on estimating sandblasting costs here.
Sandblasting aluminum has its own unique challenges. By choosing a blast media that is appropriate like glass bead, soda, or aluminum oxide, starting at a low pressure and gradually increasing it, and completing a test area prior to blasting the entire product’s surface, you can ensure you will get results that are what you hoped for.