What is Vapor Blasting? A Guide to the Vapor Blasting Process

Vapor blasting, also known as wet blasting or liquid honing, is rapidly becoming the number one choice for applications requiring the highest quality of surface finish.

Vixen's Aquablast range of wet blasting machines use the vapor blasting process to simultaneously degrease and blast industrial components, of many different shapes and sizes.

The video below demonstrates how the Aquablast machine works:

The key to vapor blasting is that the finish is produced through flow of water borne abrasive, giving a finer finish due to the flushing action of the water. No media is impregnated into the component, nor is there any dust created by the break-up of media, unlike dry blasting where the finish is produced by sheer force of media impact.

A specially designed glandless polyurethane pump agitates water and media into a slurry, which is contained within the cabinet sump. Delivery of the slurry to the manual blast nozzle is via a glandless polyurethane pump and associated hoses located inside the machine. The slurry is pumped at approximately 2 bar to the nozzle, and compressed air is introduced at the blast nozzle to accelerate the slurry and provide the cleaning effect on impact, albeit cushioned.

After contact with the component the slurry then drains back into the sump creating a re-circulating system. Fine broken down media and other contaminants are fed via an overflow to a sedimentation filter located at the rear of the cabinet.


The illustrations below show the different natures of grit, bead, and vapor blasting.

                                                                   

 

The aggressiveness of dry grit and bead blasting are shown in the first two illustrations which demonstrate the severe 90° ricochet that occurs when using these methods.

The third illustration shows the gentler, but just as effective, vapor blasting method. The ricochet of media is reduced due to the cushioning from the water; the angle of the media is changed producing a lapping effect travelling across the surface, giving an even satin/polished finish.


Advantages of Vapor Blasting 

  • Dust free process
  • Cleans by flow of water not by impact
  • Simultaneously degrease & blast clean
  • Water acts as a lubricant between media & component
  • Promotes longer media life
  • Produces a 'softer' finish
  • Avoids media impregnation on soft materials


Typical Applications

  • Degreasing / surface finishing of components in the automotive, reconditioning & maintenance industries
  • Cleaning of dies & moulds
  • Removal of paint, rust, scale, carbon & similar deposits in engineering industries
  • Surface preparation prior to bonding, re-painting or re-coating
  • Satin finishing of stainless steels & other special materials
  • Cleaning of PCB's & electrical connectors
  • Removal of small burrs from manufactured components


Aquablast Vapor Blasting Features

  • Single or 3 phase electrics available to US standards
  • 100% corrosion free stainless steel construction
  • Dust Free blasting process
  • High quality and efficient, quick release submersible polyurethane abrasive pump fitted with stainless steel inlet filter and motor housing.
  • Good visibility is maintained with low voltage windscreen wiper and wash facility. The viewing window is laminated safety glass.
  • Single footswitch operation
  • Dual purpose sedimentation filter


Optional extras available including:

Vapor Blasting using a Closed Loop

Closed loop implies that the machine will not require a drain nearby and will not consume large amounts of water. The basis for a closed loop system is a large filter unit which filters the liquid sufficiently so it may be used for the rinse gun and also the window wash.

Some top up or replacement of clean water will be required from time to time, but the machine will not require a continual drain supply. The window wash and rinse gun use recycled water which is pumped from the filter unit using a heavy duty air operated diaphragm pump.

Hydro cyclone

The hydro cyclone is designed to separate water from the blasting media to around 90%. It is ideal when emptying the machine or changing abrasives.

Mini Tumbler Barrel

The mini barrel offers the option to be able to blast many small parts (i.e. nuts and bolts) evenly. When blasted, the parts can be easily removed by removing the barrel with the grab handles and tipping out the parts.

Turntables

For easy manoeuvrability within the blast chamber a stainless steel turntable can be fitted, and for larger/heavier components a roll in-roll out trolley with rails external to the cabinet can be fitted for easier component loading.

Armholes – Bellows

For some applications where manoeuvrability within the blast chamber is required, bellow type armhole ports are recommended. These offer the operator easy access to high components or where mobile turntable, for instance, are used. Regular gauntlets attach easily to the bellows for economic replacements.

Blast Gun Holder

Fitted inside the cabinet is a blast gun holder, enabling the operator to present the components to the blast nozzle.

 

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