The glass sheets used in most of our products, whether they are facades, bathroom doors or aluminum windows, generally have a smooth surface finish, characteristic of this type of ceramic material. This, plus the optical properties of glass, allows for an uninterrupted field of vision in any space where a glass panel is installed.
There are glass projects or applications that do not always require these transparency properties that the material brings by default. In some cases, a special coloration is required that obeys aesthetic level guidelines. In other cases, it is necessary to cover the surface of the glass with some type of adhesive layer, either to offer more protection against the harmful rays of the sun or simply for advertising purposes.
What the options we have just named have in common is that none of them modifies or abrades the surface layer of the glass. They cover and even protect it, but without eroding or removing particles from the base material. Techniques that allow or effect this type of surface wear are known as abrasive techniques.
In this post, we are going to talk about a very popular abrasive technique used for marking and controlled grinding of glass surfaces. This technique is known as sandblasting, sandblasting, shot blasting or sandblasting. You will learn what it is about, what characterizes this technique, its uses and its importance in the glass industry. To begin, let’s define what Sandblasting is:
What is Sandblasting and what is it for? This is a very common question that comes to the fore when a professional who works with glass recommends changing the surface finish of a cloth or panel to grant a greater degree of privacy to a space or division. What machines are used for sandblasting? How much does Sandblasting cost? There are many questions that arise and we are going to answer the most important ones below. Let’s break down the concept of Sandblasting in a simple way:
Sandblasting, in general, is a superficial wear or abrasion technique that serves to remove any type of imperfection or layer in poor condition in a material (mainly in the case of metals) or that used intentionally allows the removal and change of the surface of a material for aesthetic purposes (mainly in the case of glass). This technique gets its name from the word SAND, which in English means sand, and the word BLAST, which refers to an impact, jet or surface pressure exerted on an element.
Now, although the name of the technique refers to the sand, it is important to clarify that it is not always used as a roughing material. There are a variety of abrasive materials that meet the objective of grinding the surface on which the jet is aimed. Materials such as aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, copper slag, sodium bicarbonate, among others, stand out. It all depends on the Sandblasting process applied and the final result required.
This technique has widespread use on metals and alloys and is commonly known as the preferred technique for removing slag or corrosion present on the surface of sheets, pipes, or mechanical parts. Another important field of application, which we will discuss below, is at an aesthetic level in glass panels.
Now that we are clear on a general level about what Sandblasting is about, let’s delve a little into the general characteristics of this technique. These are common regardless of the type of machine used for the sandblasting process or the type of abrasive material used. Among the main characteristics we have the following:
– It is a jet-propelled technique. The operating principle of this technique is as follows: an abrasive material is fed to a mechanical equipment that is in charge of providing speed to the material particles and this is shot through a hose at the end with a special nozzle. This high-speed jet hits the surface of the element or part to be treated and acts as a grinding or abrasion element. The final result is a slag-free surface or a surface with different tactile and visual properties.
– It is mainly used for cleaning surfaces, in cases where the removal of corroded layers is necessary. This surface cleaning work is similar to traditional roughing by sanding, but with the addition of being more efficient and allowing the coverage of large surfaces in a short time. Carried out in a sealed or controlled environment, this technique is ideal for restoring the shine to any metal surface.
– It is a definitive and permanent technique. Of course, in the case of removing impurities, it is logical that we will not want to return the surfaces to their state prior to the treatment with Sandblasting, but there are cases in which surfaces are treated for aesthetic reasons and it is important to clarify that this treatment does not it has back The surface of a glass that receives a sandblasting jet is frosted and there is no objection to this. Let us remember that when coming into direct contact with the surface of the material, what happens is a process of wear and removal of material. This is irreversible.
Given the characteristics, it was time to talk about the types of Sandblasting. This general classification is mainly due to factors such as the type of material used for roughing, the field of application of sandblasting or the dimensions of the surfaces to be treated. We will not break down the traditional Sandblasting that uses dry sand because this is the basis of everything that we have just explained above and of the types that we are going to touch below. That being said, the main types that exist today are:
This first type of Sandblasting has the particularity of using water mixed with the sand used in the process. The presence of water in this mixture serves as a lubricating element between the roughing material and the surfaces to be treated. This allows, among other things, to control the degree of roughing on the surface and therefore it is a softer technique than the traditional one with sand or dry particles. This guarantees a varied field of application, ranging from plastic elements to metals and ceramics.
We previously stated that this technique does not require the exclusive use of traditional grit or a single type of grit to be effective. This is the case of the glass jet. In this process, the particles used for roughing are small glass microparticles that serve to polish and treat any surface at a moderate level. This is important in applications such as painting and the recovery of ceramic and metal parts that require a slight “cleaning” rather than a superficial change.
A particular case within the types of Sandblasting is the one that only uses water as a surface “roughing” element. In this case, the name does not match the element used but in principle the technique is the same. It is used to remove dirt, mold and any type of unwanted or worn coating found on a surface. It is quite common and used at an industrial and domestic level.
Next, let’s see the most common uses of Sandblasting at the industrial level and at the construction level:
– Cleaning of structures and parts made of metal or a metal alloy. It allows the removal of any unwanted impurity in a short time and efficiently.
– Roughing and preparation of metal surfaces for the application of paints, lacquers or special coatings required for protection or aesthetic improvement. This application of sandblasting is essential for this type of aesthetic work, since it guarantees that the layer applied to the material adheres evenly and therefore the final result is optimal.
– Cleaning rustic ceramic surfaces indoors and outdoors, as in the case of stained walls, painted with graffiti, smeared with glue or greasy products, among other types of dirt. In this case, similar to the case of metals, it is possible to remove the damaging layer successfully and quickly. Another technique used in these cases is the technique that involves high-velocity water jets and that many people use at home.
– Generation of special aesthetic finishes on wood, polymer or resin surfaces. Depending on the type of sand or abrasive material used and the speed of the jet, Sandblasting is used on any type of smooth organic or polymeric surface. Mainly with aesthetic reasons, to capture shapes and patterns on the elements that are treated.
– Modification of glass surfaces for aesthetic or protective purposes. This is the main use of sandblasting in our glass products. To better understand what it is and why we use it, let’s talk about this particular application:
Glass treated with the Sandblasting technique offers aesthetically interesting and useful finishes in certain types of domestic and commercial applications. It is a versatile technique that applied by professionals guarantees visible and striking results.
Sandblasting used in glass has several applications. From roughing and grinding edges, to uses for aesthetic purposes, which are the most visible in any glass panel treated with this technique. The superficial wear through Sandblasting allows to considerably reduce the default transparency of the glass. This is quite useful in applications where more privacy is required, be it in offices, bathrooms or facades. Additionally, using patterns and matrices with special designs, Sandblasting allows logos, designs and texts to be permanently marked on the surface of the glass.
With this technique, aesthetics and functionality are efficiently combined and interesting finishes are achieved. Now, does sandblasting damage or weaken glass? The short answer is no. Although there is superficial wear, it is not strong enough to compromise its physical and mechanical properties. Therefore, regardless of where a glass cloth or panel must be installed, sandblasting will always be a technique to consider.
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