How Shot Blasting Helps Clean Metals, Part 1

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How Shot Blasting Helps Clean Metals, Part 1

shot blasting clean metals

There are several situations where a given steel or metal must be cleaned or de-oxidized in preparation for a given manufacturing process, and the methods for doing so range from wiping the surface down with a rag to high-intensity formats that involve submerging metals in a complex chemical bath. One of the most effective and popular such methods, however, is known as shot blasting.

At Wasatch Steel, we’ll describe any of steel products that might require shot blasting or another cleaning format, from our steel bar and steel tubing to steel pipe and many other material types available. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over everything you need to know about shot blasting – what it refers to, the types of shot blasting available and the actual process this method follows to clean your steel or other metal types.

Shot Blasting Basics

Shot blasting refers to a mechanical cleaning process, one that utilizes spheres of material to remove oxides and other debris that might be present on the surface of a given metal. You may have heard of sandblasting – shot blasting is not the same thing, but is part of the same broad family of abrasive blasting processes that might be used for similar purposes.

The primary difference between the two is the medium they use for the blast. Shot blasting uses spherical shot made from a few different metal types (more on this in a moment), while sandblasting – as the name suggests – uses grains of sand and compressed air.

Technology Types

There are two distinct types of shot blasting technology you’re likely to run into within the metal and steel realm:

  • Wheel blasting: Using a centrifugal wheel that translates electrical energy into kinetic energy, projecting the shot material into the metal surface. This format is usually for cleaning, descaling, rust removing and edge breaking for larger parts.
  • Air blasting: Using pneumatically pressurized air delivered through a nozzle to the metal surface. Nozzles can either be fixed or manually-operated, and the blast velocity can be altered as needed for optimal control.

Shot Types Used

There are also several possible materials that can be used as the spherical blasting material during shot blasting. Common materials used include steel, aluminum, zinc and copper, though there can be others utilized as well.

Also important to consider here is the size of the shot pellets being used, with selections generally ranging from 1-6 millimeters in diameter. Smaller options generally are best for a smooth, polished finish, while larger sizes create a rougher finish. There are also various angular formats or variations of shot used for rust and paint removal.

For more on shot blasting for steel and other metals, or to learn about any of our steel products or services, speak to the staff at Wasatch Steel today.