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The Vaniman Guide to Microabrasive Sandblasting Media

Sandblasting Media Guide from Vaniman

Microabrasive sandblasting media comes in a variety of sizes and materials. At Vaniman, we get asked pretty often which is the right one for a specific application. Of course, the correct answer is that it’s up to you — remember, you and your crew will become more of an expert on our equipment and the specific abrasive used for your application than we could ever be.

That said: you can’t un-blast what you’ve blasted, so it’s better to get it right the first time.

Use this guide to microabrasive sandblasting media and make the right choice the first time, every time!

Aluminum oxide (Al2O3) sandblasting media

White Aluminum Oxide Abrasive Sandblasting Media

Versatile and cost effective, aluminum oxide is the most common blasting media for a wide range of purposes in nearly every industry. It’s quite durable, meaning it doesn’t tend to break apart on impact, which produces less dust during blasting. Many also recycle the media, though Vaniman does not recommend taking the dust from a filter bag, collection tray, or Accumulator bucket and using that to refill media tanks. Aluminum oxide cuts very efficiently, so as you blast and collect the dust, you’ll also collect tiny particulates of the blasting target, which could mix in the tank and cause a variety of issues.

Aluminum oxide stores quite well in sealed dry environments. Many customers take advantage of its long shelf life and purchase in bulk to save money.

Grain shape: angular. Aluminum oxide is hard and sharp.

Common applications:

  • Fine surfacing of metal and other hard materials
  • Rough surface prep
  • Paint removal
  • Glass etching
  • Abrading
  • Bracket adhesive removal
  • Deburring and deflashing of metals and other hard materials
  • Aggressive cleaning/removal of materials for a semi-rough finished surface
  • Bulk removal or surface cleaning of tough materials

Al2O3 sizes & weights available from Vaniman:

SIZE Al2O31 Tank (~4 lbs.)15 lbs.55 lbs.
25 μmPN 97935PN 97921PN 98201
50 μmPN 97936PN 97922PN 97927
100 μmPN 97937PN 97923PN 98202
250 μmPN 97938PN 97924PN 98203

Glass bead sandblasting media

Glass Beads Abrasive Sandblasting Media

Another highly versatile blasting media, glass beads can also be recycled and stored for a long time. Glass beads produce a smoother, more sophisticated finish on surfaces. Due to their round shape, they tend to imprint on a surface without causing any actual loss of the target material.

Glass beads are highly recommended for peening or surface prep on stainless steel or delicate, thin-walled material. They are also a popular option for deburring or removing calcium deposits.

Grain shape: spherical. Glass beads are tough and round.

Common applications:

  • Lossless material cleaning
  • Deburring
  • Cosmetic/decorative finishing
  • Polishing
  • Peening
  • Texturing

Glass bead sizes & weights available from Vaniman:

SIZE GLASS BEAD1 Tank (~4 lbs.)15 lbs.50 lbs.
50 μmPN 97939PN 97925PN 98204

Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO₃) sandblasting media

Sodium Bicarbonate Abrasive Sandblasting Media

Sodium bicarbonate is also referred to as “soda blasting” or baking soda. Please note — this is not the same baking soda you’d buy at a normal grocery store. Sodium bicarbonate blasting media is specifically formulated for this, store-bought baking soda is typically for home kitchen use.

Sodium bicarbonate media is excellent for removing contaminants or coatings without damaging underlying substrates. It is biodegradable and tends to shatter on impact, so it while it cuts efficiently, it is also a much gentler blasting media. It also doesn’t imprint on surfaces and is water soluble, making post-blasting cleaning much easier than with more durable media.

Although gentler on hard materials than aluminum oxide, it cuts as efficiently and is nonconductive, making sodium bicarbonate the best choice for conformal coating removal from printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other electronics.

Grain shape: angular. Sodium Bicarbonate is pointy but gentle.

Common applications:

  • Non-destructive surface prep
  • Hard material cleaning
  • Paint removal
  • Matrix removal / fossil prep
  • Conformal coating removal

NaHCO₃ sizes & weights available from Vaniman:

SIZE NaHCO₃1 Tank (~4 lbs.)15 lbs.50-55 lbs.
50-100 μmPN 98200PN 97934PN 98206

Walnut shell sandblasting media

Walnut Shell Microabrasive Sandblasting Media

Walnut shell is an organic, biodegradable media and is the best sandblasting media for wood. Its properties make it a fine choice for less aggressive surface prep, deburring, or cleaning on materials that are more susceptible to damage. Its angular shape keeps the cutting efficient and causes less damage or material removal.

This media is recommended for our reservoir-based sandblasters with the pistol-style blasting handpiece, and ideal for any application where blasting on wood is involved.

Grain shape: angular. Walnut shell is jagged but soft.

Common applications:

  • Delicate cleaning
  • Paint removal
  • Buffing
  • Deburring, deflashing, and finishing
  • Porosity enhancement for grinding wheels / ceramics

Walnut shell sizes & weights available from Vaniman:

SIZE WALNUT SHELL1 Tank (~4 lbs.)15 lbs.50 lbs.
50 μmN/APN 97933N/A
100 μmN/APN 97932PN 98207
250 μmN/AN/APN 97931

>> Read safety & data sheets on abrasive media here.

>> Micron to Grit to Mesh size chart and calculator tool here.

Dust collectors and microabrasive sandblasters for sale:

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