Improving Safety, Productivity with New Abrasives


With the revised rules regarding free crystalline silica, the surface preparation industry is on the hunt for a cost-effective, high-performance blast abrasive that avoids the headaches of current regulatory compliance and ensures the long-term health and safety of its workers.

10X Engineered Materials has launched a new class of high-performance abrasives designed to eliminate these health and safety risks as well as improve performance over traditional blast media.

Problems with Traditional Abrasives

The particles in traditional blast abrasives, such as slags, recycled glass and mined minerals, contain imperfections and fracture planes in the material matrix that limit the abrasive’s performance at the high nozzle pressures and particle speeds that are needed for effective surface preparation. The particles tend to break along these fracture planes when they impact a surface at high speed, which dissipates the kinetic energy of the particle rather than efficiently delivering it to the surface being treated. These unavoidable particle imperfections can waste fuel, time and money. They also create dust and associated health hazards.

Most abrasives — particularly abrasives that are mined — contain crystal structures that were formed under the Earth’s heat and pressure over millions of years. Since silicon dioxide is among the most common minerals in the Earth’s crust, it is often present in crystalline form (mostly quartz) in mineral abrasives. When mineral abrasive particles break during a blasting process, silicon dioxide microcrystals (free silica) are released as respirable dust that may be inhaled deeply into the lungs of workers. Silicon dioxide crystals cause silicosis, permanent damage and scarring of the lungs. It is for this reason that OSHA and other regulatory bodies have imposed permissible exposure limits (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica.

boosting performance, lowering risk


The new abrasives from 10X Engineered Materials are comprised of tempered, amorphous particles. Amorphous particles are equally strong in all directions, resist breaking and generate far less dust from impact with a surface. Amorphous by definition means that both the particles themselves and the low levels of dust they produce on impact with a surface are completely free of potentially hazardous microcrystals, including regulated crystalline forms of silicon dioxide.

Just as important, the energy resources spent in compressing air and accelerating the abrasive particles onto a surface are not lost to particle fracture. The energy is delivered to the surface where it is needed. Unlike the performance of traditional abrasives, which is known to taper off from particle fracture and energy loss as pressure is increased, the cleaning speed and surface finish of the new abrasives continue to improve as nozzle pressure increases.

The characteristics of these new abrasives combine to deliver faster job completion and higher work output, so less abrasive media is consumed and the high costs of coating failure and rework are minimized. Costs associated with health and safety and regulatory compliance are also reduced, as the abrasives are completely free of hazardous crystalline content and contain virtually no leachable heavy metals, according to the manufacturer. The company notes that these features are what set the new abrasives apart from other mineral abrasives — especially those mined from the earth — and bring greater value to the marketplace.

For more information, call 260-209-1207 or visit 10Xem.com.

Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, PaintSquare or its editors.