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What is the difference between Sandblasting and Glass Grit Blasting?

Posted on by J Radford Group

Since the 1950s, the use of sand in blasting has been illegal. Free silica blasting was found to be extremely harmful to the human respiratory system, forcing companies to find other materials to use in the blasting process. Despite all of this, people still refer to blasting services as “sandblasting” – both inside and outside of the industry. This terminology is no longer correct, and this month we’ll be talking about the number of different materials and techniques we use at J Radford Group to replace sand in the blasting process.

Grit & Shot Blasting

The main alternative to sandblasting – and the correct terminology – is grit blasting, shot blasting or glass grit blasting. This is because we use a myriad of different media to clean, restore and level out surfaces. Glass grit doesn’t contain any of the harmful “open” silica and therefore provides a much safer, more environmentally friendly blasting material.

Dustless Blasting

There are many situations where the dust and disturbance created by blasting cannot be tolerated; in this scenario we employ a dustless blasting technique. Sometimes referred to as vacuum blasting, the dust and waste is recycled using a vacuum system. This allows for blasting to be carried out where other works are being performed simultaneously, but it also has environmental benefits when deployed outdoors.

Dry Ice Blasting

One alternative to free silica blasting materials is dry ice. The dry ice pellets are quite soft and are much less dense than other blast cleaning materials such as glass grit. This material provides a clean and refreshing blast service for many surfaces, no residue will be left behind once the job is done and there is no damage to the environment either indoors or outdoors.

Precision Blasting

When precision is needed for blasting either a delicate surface or a very specific area, we deploy the latest precision blasting technology. Non-toxic and non-hazardous, this is a great alternative to sandblasting, with the low pressure blasting to give accurate results. This technique is ideal for restoration of architecture, even for structures made from timber.

Soda Blasting

Utilising natural materials such as bicarbonate of soda and compressed air, we can use the impact of this reaction to provide an abrasive blast. This material removes all manner of pollution and contaminants from surfaces both interior and exterior. This is a fantastically innovative and safe cleaning material.

What is so dangerous about sandblasting?

Many people aren’t aware of what it is that makes sandblasting so dangerous. Even as recently as 2008 a company was fined £26,000 for using sandblasting to clean old vehicles – a shocking story when you consider how long the practice has been banned for more than 50 years.

When we refer to sand being dangerous, it’s due to the open crystalline structure of the silica. This structure sticks very easily to our lung tissue, making it impossible to remove and presenting a whole host of respiratory problems. Materials like glass however, have a closed structure, meaning that even if it were to reach our lungs, our bodies are capable of removing it like any other dirt and dust.

At J Radford Group, we use a range of grades in our abrasive blasting to meet the requirements of the task. So whether you need blast cleaning or a more precise restoration service, simply contact us today and our professional team will be happy to help.

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