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Sandblasting vs Glass Bead Blasting:
Which is Better?

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Sandblasting and glass bead blasting are two widely used abrasive blasting techniques utilised for the purpose of surface preparation, removing contaminants, stripping, as well as improving the cosmetic appearance of a part.

Sandblasting and glass bead blasting are two surface finishing processes that share similarities in the method of operation. Both methods involve the use of a high-velocity stream of abrasive material directed towards the surface being cleaned or prepared. The abrasive material is propelled by compressed air or other mechanical means, and the intensity and duration of the blast can be adjusted to suit the specific application.

So, how do these two surface finishes differ from one another?


The main difference lies in the type of abrasive material used in each process

Sandblasting, as the name suggests, uses sand or other hard, sharp abrasive materials, such as aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, or steel grit, to blast away the surface layer of a material. It is a more aggressive method of surface preparation that is ideal for removing heavy rust, paint, or other stubborn coatings from metal surfaces.



On the other hand, glass bead blasting uses tiny glass beads, typically made of soda-lime glass, to gently clean and polish the surface without damaging it. It is a more precise method of surface preparation that is ideal for achieving a smooth, polished surface finish on relatively smooth surfaces, such as stainless steel or aluminum. Glass bead blasting is also used to remove tool marks, light rust or corrosion from metal surfaces.


Sandblasting vs Glass Bead Blasting

Advantages of sandblasting over glass bead blasting

  • Cleaning effectiveness: Sandblasting is generally more effective than glass bead blasting for removing heavy rust, paint, or other thicker or stubborn coatings.
  • Better for rough surfaces: Sandblasting is better suited for rough surfaces, such as concrete or stone, as it can quickly and effectively remove any surface irregularities, making it a great option for surface preparation before painting or coating.
  • More cost-effective: Sandblasting is typically less expensive than glass bead blasting, as the abrasive materials used in sandblasting are less expensive than glass beads.


Advantages of glass bead blasting over sandblasting

  • Cleaning effectiveness: Glass bead blasting is better suited for cleaning and polishing relatively smooth surfaces, such as stainless steel or aluminum.
  • A gentler process: Sandblasting leaves a rougher surface finish than glass bead blasting. This is because glass bead blasting uses a lower air pressure and a gentler abrasive material that is less likely to cause pitting or other damage to the part’s surface.
  • Less material removal: Glass bead blasting is a more precise method of surface preparation and only removes the top layer of the material, leaving the base material unaffected. This makes it ideal for applications where only a thin layer of material needs to be removed, such as for cleaning and finishing small parts or delicate surfaces.


Sandblasting vs glass bead blasting: which surface finish is better?

Choosing between sandblasting and glass bead blasting as the better surface finish largely depends on the specific application and the desired outcome. Sandblasting is typically more aggressive, can remove thicker coatings and surface contaminants and is better suited for heavy-duty applications. Whereas glass bead blasting is more suitable for achieving a smoother and more polished surface finish without damaging delicate surfaces.

Can’t decide between the two surface finishing options? Contact an expert here today.

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