Auto Paint Repair

A Media Blasting Rust Removal Guide


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Media blasting is a very efficient and economical way to remove old paint and rust from all types of materials. Media blasting is also known to many people as sandblasting. Media blasting equipment is normally air powered, feeding the media from a hopper, up through a supply hose into a mixing chamber, from which it is expelled out of the blasting nozzle. There are a variety of different types of media available for media blasting.

Types of Blasting Media

The media of choice used to be mainly sand. Sand was used because other materials hadn't been tried before. Sand has always been a multipurpose media blasting agent because it works for removing paint, rust and other contaminants from a variety of surface types. Within the past 10 years or so, industry has been slowly converting from sand as a blasting agent to chopped nut shells (almonds and walnuts are very popular) and plastic media blasting agents. Body and paint shops are using walnut shell media blasting agents more and more for the removal of paint. This is because of the sharp edges on the crushed walnut shells which help to remove the paint much quicker. Plastic media blasting is the blasting media of choice because the plastic will remove the rust without digging into the underlying metal. This means there will be less panel repairing required when the media blasting is completed. Plastic is slowly becoming the media blasting agent of choice because it is easily recyclable and less costly than sand.

Typically, used sand was discarded as hazardous waste, because the paint chips mixed with sand can't be easily or economically removed. With a small reclamation system, plastic media can have the rust and paint contaminants easily removed, thus making the media recyclable. One added advantage of using plastic as a blasting media is that when the plastic chips become too small, they can be reused by being solidified and sold to certain certified cement kilns to be used as fuel for the kilns.

Tips and Safety

When performing any type of media blasting for rust or paint removal, there are a few things to keep in mind. These things are as follows:

  • Always wear safety glasses. No matter what kind of work you're doing, it's always important to make sure you protect your eyes.
  • Wear leather work gloves. Media blasting operates with fairly high air pressures. This air pressure is what propels the media through the blasting nozzle. This air pressure creates enough force to cut through skin.
  • Agitate the media container. Sometimes the media in the media container can get stuck together and not feed very well. Agitating the media in the container every so often will keep the media flowing optimally.
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