At the surface, sand blasting and shot blasting are fairly similar. After all, they’re both using speed and force to propel an abrasive material. However, those are very loose similarities, which is why neither the term or the action can be used interchangeably. This means that some projects require a shot, some require sand, but rarely can a shot blaster be used in place of sand blasting and vice versa.
Understanding Abrasive Blasting
As we mentioned, both sand blasting and shot blasting are forms of abrasive blasting. This means that an abrasive material, whether it’s sand, soda, or steel shot, is propelled with great force and speed against a surface. Abrasive blasting can be used for several reasons:
- To smooth over a rough or bumpy surface.
- Create texture and roughness on a smooth surface.
- Change or shape a surface, such as removing sharp angles from a corner.
- Remove a coating or contaminant, such as paint, epoxy, caked-on dirt, or rust.
The Difference Between Sand and Shot Blasting
There are two main differences between sand blasting and shot blasting: the material used, and the energy propelling the abrasive substance.
The term sand blasting is a bit misleading. While it was once commonly used, sand is rarely used in abrasive blasting due to high moisture content and large amounts of contaminants, including silica dust. Today, a blend of minerals, walnut shells, plastics, and glass comprise the “sand.”
The sand blasting technique uses highly pressurized, compressed air to direct and propel the substance. It’s often used to clean auto and industrial parts of dirt, oil, and grease, remove rust or paint, or create a bare surface that’s ready to be painted.
Shot blasting relies on steel shot as its abrasive media. Inside the machine, a wheel that’s been fitted with paddle-like blades turns at high speed, and as the shot comes down the hopper, it’s propelled toward a surface through the wheel’s centrifugal force.
As it hits the surface, depending on the size of the shot, power of the machine, and travel speed, the shot can lightly etch the surface or can chip away at the top to create a rough, highly textured surface.
Choosing Shot Blasting Vs Sand Blasting
In most surface preparation tasks, shot blasting can be used rather than sand blasting. The benefits include:
- Versatility: Fine, small shot can get the same effect as sand blasting while larger shot can be used for tougher tasks.
- Clean-up: Both walk-behind and ride-on shot blasters have dust collectors you can affix to them, so it’s cleaner and safer than the debris and dust that may come from sand blasting.
- Less waste: As the shot is propelled out, the machine is also pulling used shot back into the hopper so it can be reused several times.
Get the Right Shot Blaster for Your Next Project
Whether you need a small hand-held shot blaster for smaller tasks, or you need a larger model for big projects, we have durable, high-quality surface preparation equipment for sale. Shop our selection of shot blasters along with parts and accessories or contact our expert team at (815)472-7944 or fill out our contact form!