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Why Wet Sandblasting Is Useful for Rust Removal

Whether you're cleaning car parts, restoring old tools or removing corrosion from a motorcycle engine, using a wet blasting cabinet to remove rust is often the most practical solution. There are other ways to remove rust and corrosion from parts and tools (which we will look at soon). However, these are usually time consuming or labor intensive.

For large production shops where you need to consistently remove rust from many parts, wet sandblasting is the best solution. We will examine the various methods of removing corrosion from metal objects and explain the advantages of wet blasting.

sandblasting beads

sandblasting glass beads media

Why wet blasting is more practical

You may have noticed that the rust removal methods we have discussed so far have some things in common. They take a long time to work and are only suitable for smaller objects or a small number of parts.

If you have a continuous stream of parts to clean, whether rusted or corroded, the methods we've discussed so far simply aren't feasible.

Dry media blasting is certainly an option, and it is certainly faster than soaking in a solution for a few days. But the biggest disadvantage of dry media blasting is that small particles of abrasive can get stuck in the crevices of the substrate. You can always cover various parts of the object being sandblasted with aluminum tape, but this is not 100% fail-safe because the tape will also be sandblasted.

People will mention that there is another hazard to dry blasting rusty surfaces. If the metal surface is very thin, the frictional heat from the abrasive will warp the surface.

Wet blasting with mild abrasives is the perfect solution if you need to blast a large number of objects quickly and remove rust effectively. Water simultaneously prevents warpage caused by frictional heat and cleans the substrate at the same time.

Blasting & Abrasive solutions

Optimal abrasive media

It is important to note that rusting and corrosion do not occur in a uniform manner. Rust and oxidation develop in peaks and valleys, and when you remove rust from metal, you may notice a phenomenon called pitting. These are small dents that remain in the base material, especially in ferrous metals.

If you are spraying aluminum, plastic media, walnut shells or glass beads are the best choices. They have a low Mohs hardness, so the metal surface is not damaged.

For steel or iron, glass beads or aluminum oxide are a good choice, especially if you want to break it down to bare metal. Keep in mind that aluminum oxide has a very high Mohs hardness.

In most corrosion removal situations, we find that a mixture of glass beads and sodium bicarbonate removes rust while leaving the substrate intact.

It is a good idea to add a rust inhibitor to the slurry blast mixture during wet blasting. You can also apply a protective coating immediately after removing the rust. This will prevent flash rust from appearing on the metal surface after the initial rust has been removed.

In Summary

Although there are several ways to remove rust from metal objects, the wet spray method is the fastest way to eliminate massive corrosion. The use of a mixture of glass beads and sodium bicarbonate is suitable for most ferrous alloys. Use a rust inhibitor in the slurry mixture or apply a permanent coating afterwards to prevent rust from reappearing. Contact TENROADS to learn more!

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