Full Version: Sand Blasting Equipment

From: cindy (ROBERTM) [#1]
 9 Nov 2005

To All:
I'm thinking about getting sand blasting equipment. I get calls about doing jobs that my laser just can't handle. But do not know anything about this at all, but then I did'nt know anything much about the laser engraving business in the beginning either.

I looked at Harbor Freight Tools this morning they have two that I looked at, one would sit on a table and the other was on a stand. I don't think either would help much as the cabinet that you fit your material into is rather small.

Was wondering what others had as far as equipment that did sand blasting. What size works best, and basically good general knowledge.

I have gotten calls for large rocks, large granite engraving 5' x 8' in size.

Any information is greatly appreciated.

Thanks Cindy

EDITED: 10 Nov 2005 by DATAKES

From: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#2]
 10 Nov 2005
To: cindy (ROBERTM) [#1] 10 Nov 2005


The process of engraving large stones and granite pieces will require a different approach to your set-up than that used for carving smaller gift and award items.

Larger pieces will require a method of transporting and handling the material. The blasting process will require an enclosed ventilated room, or an outdoor blasting area. This process will also require a grit that is more coarse (150-grit). That grit will also be dispensed at a higher air pressure.

Larger products will also require the use of a vinyl plotter to cut the designs out of masking materials. Smaller pieces can be masked with photo-resist materials or laser mask.

My experiense has only been in the gift and award type sandcarving. For this type of engraving I would recommend a pressure-pot blaster rather than one that is siphon-fed. The pressure pot blaster will maintain a more consistent pressure and media flow. It also allows you better control of the pressure at which the media is dispensed. This is an important factor when you get into the more artistic aspects of sandcarving such as shading. Pressure-pot blasters also tend to be much faster than siphon-fed.

If keeping a clean work area is important to you, I would recommend a system that has the pressure pot built right into the cabinet. This allows you to refill the pressure pot with abrasive without creating a billowing cloud of dust in your work area. It is also a more efficient design.

The second most important factor is the air compressor size. www.sandcarver.org has some great articles on this subject. The bottom line is that you don't want a compressor so small that you are having to spend half of your time waiting for it to re-pressurize. Time is money!

EDITED: 10 Nov 2005 by DATAKES

From: cindy (ROBERTM) [#3]
 10 Nov 2005
To: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#2] 10 Nov 2005

Thanks for the information. I don't do small gifts but do some plaques. What I was looking for is sand blasting equipment to do more industrial and large items that my laser will not hold.

I will read the links you suggested. Does anyone have any sucess with sand blasting in their business, and would this be a good mix.


From: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#4]
 11 Nov 2005
To: cindy (ROBERTM) [#3] 11 Nov 2005


My business would likely be half of what it is without sandcarving. It is an invaluable process and isn't near the mess you would think, if your set-up is done right.

From: cindy (ROBERTM) [#5]
 11 Nov 2005
To: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#4] 11 Nov 2005

How is your set up? and with sandcarving what type of business are you doing, if you don't mind me asking.

I have a home based business. At this time I'm mostly doing some singage and plastic and aluminum plates, some photo engraving basicly business to business. Also rubber stamps and name tags. I'm looking to expand and exploring my options.

I'm really not interested in doing trophies. I feel like (and I might be wrong) you would need a store front to do these succcessfully, and I really do not have the room for a lot of inventory.

I would really appreciate any information and guidence you could give me.

Thanks so much

From: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#6]
 11 Nov 2005
To: cindy (ROBERTM) [#5] 12 Nov 2005


With a focus on business-to-business, you are set up perfectly for expanding into sandcarving. These same customers will appreciate the quality of this service and will likely be able to handle the higher prices that you will be required to charge for this more time-consuming process.

The substrates I etch most frequently are glass, marble, granite, cut crystal and optical crystal. I have etched designs in slate, stone, stainless steel and acrylic.

The products that sandcarve most frequently are wine bottles, glassware, crystal and glass awards, glass plaques, marble clocks, and high end awards from companies like Visions Awards, Millenium Marble, Topmost, Toujours, etc.

There are some high quality blasting systems on the market, so my system is certainly not the standard to base your decisions on. I can tell you that I wouldn't change a thing in my current set-up. It has worked flawlessly for me, with only preventative maintenance being performed.

My blasting cabinet is the Sandcarver II from Photobrasive. It has a built in pressure pot, which is the most important feature to look for if you want to keep a tidy work area.

I also purchased a multi-cabinet dust collector, projecting that I would be adding another cabinet in the future. I purchased a Cyclone 400 CFM Dual Filtration Dust Collection System. This dust collector has been excellent!!!!

I purchased my upright air compressor locally. I will have to re-visit the details on that compressor, as I don't recall the specs I finally ended up with.

For developing my photo-resist film, I purchased a 26-1KS UV Exposure System. This machine takes the guesswork out of determining film exposure times, and allows you to expose larger images.

I also use the Photobrasive PB500 Photo Resist Film Dryer to make film drying faster and effortless.

I use 4-mil and 6-mil Photobrasive UltraPro Blue photo-resist film for my sandblasting, along with Specialty Tapes' Lazer Edge laser mask tape for flat items that I can stencil in my laser engraver.

I use 180-grit silicon carbide that I purchase in 50 lb. drums from a company in Northbrook, Illinois called UK Abrasives.

You will also need a washout area for the photo-resist film. I use a stand floor, mop sink with a bottomless tall acrylic box within the sink, built to retain the overspray during washout.

Lots of quality 2" masking tape, plastic wrap, replacement blasting tips and you are good to go.

From: cindy (ROBERTM) [#7]
 12 Nov 2005
To: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#6] 12 Nov 2005

Thank you so much for answering some of my questions. Now since I do not know anything about this process is there a book or vidio to show step by step so I can learn how to do this type of work.

Also how big of a item can you sand blast and do you ever do jobs on site, for like large pieces?

Just trying to think this all out and study up on this.

Thanks Cidny

From: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#8]
 12 Nov 2005
To: cindy (ROBERTM) [#7] 12 Nov 2005

You can go to www.etchmaster.com. Norm and Ruth Dobbins offer a wide range of video tapes on the subject. They also offer some excellent (and super fun) seminars.

On-site blasting requires special equipment so that you will minimize the mess. Obviously you will need a portable air compressor. You will also need a specialized unit that will blast the material then collect the grit immediately. Here is the unit I am referring to. http://www.glastar.com/catalog/sandblasting/OS-7.cfm

EDITED: 12 Nov 2005 by DATAKES

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