Sandblasting : an effective approach to treat your materials

Material ruptures are the most common form of industrial product failures. Surface treatments are key procedures to lower the risk of this occurring, protecting materials from the apparition of fissures. In this regard, sandblasting is an effective solution : it improves the surface of a material and prolongs its lifespan.

What is sandblasting ?

Sandblasting is a mechanical surface treatment consisting of projecting pellets (or grains of sand for example) at very high speed onto a material’s surface. Used on most metals, the repeated impacts cause the surface to harden and the development of compressive residual stress. A lengthy treatment can form an extremely resistant nanostructured layer made of nanograins.

Many different sandblasting methods have been developed. Conventionally, sandblasters are used to project pellets onto the material carried by compressed air or via a turbine. More recently, new techniques have been developed such as ultrasonic sandblasting where the pellets are moved by the vibrations of a closed chamber containing the part being treated. This makes it possible to obtain a much more varied range of impacts and opens up new prospects for use.

What are the advantages of such a technique for industrialists ?

Surface treatment

Sandblasting can be used as a cleaning technique to eliminate rust, rough edges or impurities having appeared during the production process. The aim being to improve the appearance of the finished product or to prepare a surface to be coated by a protective layer such as paint, adhesive… Used alone, this procedure has a few advantages over conventional surface treatment methods : it does not add anything to the material itself thus eliminating the risk of an unwanted chemical reaction, is very simple to implement and the pellets can be recovered and reused.

Improved resistance

Fissures are the cause of ruptures. After being sandblasted, a material’s surface is compressed to avoid the apparition of fissures or to at least prevent them from worsening. In some cases, this procedure is even used to “fill” fissures. This technique is also used to prolong a material’s lifespan by reinforcing its resistance to outside constraints.

More recently, sandblasting has been used to from nanostructured layers on the surface of various materials. This extremely hard outer layer also considerably slows down outside phenomena such as corrosion.

Generally speaking, sandblasting allows industrialists to design better performing metallic parts (longer lifespan, harder, better resistance to corrosion…) for cheaper. However, if wrongly used, usually if impact speed is too high, sandblasting can have the opposite effect and damage the material being treated. It is therefore paramount to choose competent service providers to carry out regular inspections to evaluate the effectiveness of your method.

Examples of possible applications

Industrial fields where sand blasting is used are very diverse. Mainly used in sectors such as automobiles, aeronautics or nuclear energy to produce metallics parts that will be subjected to repetitive and cyclic stress (landing gear, suspension, welding, motors…). Faced with significant safety and weight constraints and surrounding parts, this technique has the ability to improve the performance and the sustainability of parts without adding weight to them.

Sandblasting is also used in the Naval industry to clean surfaces before paint can be applied.

This technique is also of interest when it comes to maintaining roads to achieve better adhesion, and to allow rain water to flow more easily and to repair irregularities. 

FILAB can also study the behavior of your materials and assist in optimizing your industrial processes

FILAB laboratory, experts in material analysis and surface characterization, is able to assist industrial companies from all fields in optimizing their production processes, namely by recommending surface treatment techniques best suited to each type of material.

Using cutting-edge techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM FEG EDX) complemented by observations under an optical microscope, FILAB is able to provide the following services :

  • Failure analysis
  • Analysis of fissures
  • Fractographic analyses
  • Analysis of wear
  • Surface characterization
  • Accelerated aging tests
  • Development and validation of surface treatments
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