Wet Abrasive Blasting: The Future of Surface Preparation and the Effects it Has on Steel

From JPCL, March 2020

By Joshua Bell and Casey McCartney, Tnemec Company, Inc.

With more stringent silica regulations being enforced in the coatings industry, the use of wet abrasive blasting is becoming more prevalent. The authors investigate the viability of wet abrasive blasting compared to dry abrasive blasting and explore the use of additives, in tandem with wet abrasive blasting standards, to remove soluble salts, inhibit flash rusting and avoid impacting the performance of applied coating systems....

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Comment from Michael Beitzel, (3/19/2020, 12:00 PM)

Interesting study and I agree that slurry abrasive blasting with additives provides more benefits than dry abrasive blasting. However to be fair I am not aware that it is standard practice to dry abrasive blast then to pressure wash. The pressure washing typically occurs prior to dry abrasive blasting and wonder what impact that may have had on the results. I would be curious to see the level of flash rusting of Group 11 without washing.

Comment from Jacob Falbo, (4/6/2020, 1:29 PM)

I agree. This is an interesting article on a timely subject. Protection from silicosis and other particulate dangers is, and will be, of the utmost importance. Forgive me if this is a naive question but, what are typical medias used for water blasting? Is normal sand the primary media since it is cost effect and the slurry reduces airborne dangers? I work primarily in abrasives and surface prep and am interested to learn more about this process.

Comment from Charles Hibberd , (4/9/2020, 3:12 PM)

I found most common media used in water blasting is garnet or crushed glass, if a media is not clean and has dust the sand in the pot will tend to make mud and become a problem. One of the alternative ways to wet blast is to get a system where the pot has dry media just like a regular blaster but introduces the water by injection it into the air stream after the sand leaves the pot. There is a company offering this alternative technology. I have done a lot of blasting with the slurry system mentioned in this article. One of the disadvantages of blasting with this system is if you are in a confined space the water and water vapour can become overwhelming and there is no way to reduce the ratio of water to media mix. I am about to try the injection system because it appears that one would be able to reduce the quantity of water if needed.

Comment from Lydia Frenzel, (4/11/2020, 2:57 PM)

Why did the authors wash after dry abrasive blasting? Let's keep it simple. Keep the experimental parameters close to each other. The Wet abrasive blast typically requires a wash down of the particles. To make a valid comparison, the authors washed the dry abrasive plates so that the "flash rust" would be about the same and so that they wouldn't get into an argument about the quantity of residual salts with "rust back". That is, they used the same procedures on each series 1) blast 2) wash. The "in the works" wet abrasive blast cleaning GUIDE is being circulated amongst SSPC and NACE members. It describes 4 distinct systems.

Comment from Michael Beitzel, (5/11/2020, 7:20 PM)

Lydia thanks for your response. Let me say that I am a proponent of wet abrasive blasting and believe that it should be considered as a reasonable engineering control to limit worker and environmental lead exposures when removing lead based paint. I have been since the mid 1990"s in the attached article in the JPCL. I was just pointing out that the study in question does not compare practical practices that could undermine the conclusions regarding the potential benefits of wet abrasive blasting. I would be interested assisting n the guide development you refer to. https://www.paintsquare.com/library/articles/Slurry_Blasting_with_Lead_Stablizer_Tested.pdf

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