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What is sandblasting?
Sandblasting is another term for abrasive blasting, the process of spraying a material with high-velocity particles (called blast media). The high pressure of the spray and abrasive quality of the blast media smooths the surface of the material by removing any imperfections. Blast media is usually expelled using pressurized air, but some systems use water instead.
In the past, the name “sandblasting” came from the silica sand most commonly used. However, most abrasive blasting is now performed with a variety of non-sand substances of varying sizes and qualities. Some typical examples include coal slag, baking soda, glass beads, and metal balls, among many others.
Sandblasting has a variety of uses beyond providing the aesthetic appeal of a smooth surface. It can be used to remove paint, rust, contaminants, or other unwanted substances and prepare a substrate for a coating. Sandblasting may also be used to etch a design into an object’s surface.
In the context of industrial maintenance, sandblasting is most often used for surface preparation, preparing a surface before it’s treated with an industrial coating.
Though easily confused, the difference between sandblasting booths and sandblasting cabinets is simple:
- Sandblasting booths (also called blast rooms) allow operators to work inside them if they wear the appropriate protective gear. This means they are much larger than sandblasting cabinets.
- Sandblasting cabinets do not allow operators to step inside. Instead, operators reach inside the cabinet using built-in gloves that insulate their hands and arms from the spray. Sandblasting cabinets may be free-standing or placed on a benchtop.
Which product will be right for your project will depend on the size and weight of the objects you need to sandblast. When considering a sandblasting cabinet, it’s especially important to consider the measurements of its workspace and its maximum weight capacity. Sandblasting booths, on the other hand, don’t have the same limitations.
Sandblasting cabinets use a simple process to pressurize, expel, filter, and potentially recover blast media.
First, the operator activates the acceleration of the blast media using a foot pedal and/or the blast gun. Pressurized air or water carries the blast media to the nozzle, where it will be expelled.
Some types of blast gun use a combination of air and water, expelling the blast media with compressed air and immediately coating it in a spray of water to reduce friction. In either case, the overall process is the same.
After the sandblasting is finished, the dust created in the process is blown away using an air gun, vacuum, or fans. The dust filtration system removes as much of this dust as possible before cycling the air back out into the room. Sandblasting cabinets may or may not come with built-in filtration systems.
Some sandblasting cabinets also feature media reclamation systems, which allow you to recover larger particles leftover from sandblasting and reuse them. Many types of blast media can be recovered and reused — but not all. Be sure to look up the recyclability of your blast media when considering whether to buy a cabinet with a media reclamation system.
The cost of a sandblasting booth will depend on its size, whether the booth is predesigned or custom, premade, or assembled by you, and other specifications. Here are some estimates to guide you:
- Titan Abrasive: $70,000 to $100,000
- Global Finishing Solutions: $7,200 to $50,000
- Clemco: $60,000 to $133,000
Additionally, the Pittsburgh Spray Equipment Company estimates that the typical cost of a sandblasting booth is $45,000 to $250,000. A
The cost of a sandblasting cabinet can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Consider these price ranges for single-operator sandblasting cabinets from popular brands:
- TP Tools: $2,099 – $4,899
- Eastwood: $269.99 – $3,499.99
- Northern Tool: $289.99 – $3,699.99
In general, benchtop sandblasting cabinets tend to be cheaper than free-standing cabinets, and sandblasting cabinets that allow for two operators are more expensive than single-operator cabinets.
Whether your budget is in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, there’s a sandblasting cabinet that can fit your project’s needs. Here’s our top picks for the best sandblasting cabinets for each price point:
Editor’s Choice: TP Tools® USA 2846 Sandblasting Cabinet
Our most expensive choice, the TP Tools® USA 2846 Sandblasting Cabinet features a heavy-duty HEPA vacuum to remove and filter leftover dust and blast media. Paired with its recycling system and high weight limit, this cabinet is a great investment if you regularly sandblast machinery.
- Price: $1,799
- Size: 46” W x 28” D x 28” H
- Blasting Pressure: 10-15 CFM at 80 psi
- Vac-55 HEPA Vacuum
- Foot pedal for spray control
- 28” cabinet gloves
- Holds objects up to 200 lbs
- Blast media recycling system
Best value: Eastwood B40 Modular Blast Cabinet
Our mid-range pick, the Eastwood B40 Modular Blast Cabinet fits on a benchtop and can accommodate objects up to 55 lbs, making it a versatile and space-saving option. In exchange, it offers a slightly less powerful spray than our other two picks.
- Price: $549.99
- Size: 28” x 18” x 12”
- Blasting pressure: 7 CFM at 90 psi
- Holds objects up to 55 lbs
- Textured gloves
Most affordable: JEGS Bench Top Portable Sand Blaster Cabinet
The JEGS Bench Top Portable Sand Blaster Cabinet provides a surprisingly high 15-25 CFM at 40-120 psi, making it quite the workhorse for its price. However, it has the lowest weight limit of our picks and the smallest work area.
- Price: $289.99
- Size: 23” x 19” x 14”
- Blasting Pressure: 15-25 CFM at 40-120 psi
- Holds objects up to 38.5 lbs
- 4 ceramic replacement nozzles
- Textured gloves
We recommend Global Finishing Solutions as our preferred sandblasting booth for its simple construction and strong filtration system. Take a look at their Powder Coating Non-Recovery Booth’s features:
- Easy assembly
- Durable G90 galvanized steel panels
- 3-stage filtration system of panel filters, roll media, and 6-pocket bag filters with 99.9% filter efficiency at 5 microns
- Included manometer displays when filters should be replaced
- Interior ETL-listed (Class 1 Division 2) fluorescent light fixtures
- Low-noise plug fans (rated at 1.5” static pressure)
If you need a high-strength non-recovery sandblasting booth, check out Global Finishing Solutions.