Different techniques are possible for preparing and cleaning different types of surfaces. One of the techniques most commonly used for this is abrasive blasting. Vapor blasting is similar to other abrasive blasting methods, but has one important difference: while abrasive blasting uses abrasive media in combination with air (e.g. sandblasting), water is added in the case of vapor blasting. Because of the relatively low force involved, vapor blasting is mainly used to remove light pollution from, for example, facades and walls, but water blasting can in most cases also be used to remove rust, mill scale, copper slag, coatings and other dirt.
How does a vapor blasting machine work?
Two elements are required to use a vapor blasting machine: water and an abrasive. In most cases, sand is added to the water, but nowadays there are also special abrasives that can be used in this process. The water and the abrasive are mixed inside the blast machine and the mixture is then applied to the surface. The pressure of the machine can be adjusted, but will at all times be much lower than with other blasting methods. Because of the low pressure used, there is no powerful jet directly on the surface, but the abrasive material gradually slides over the surface. This makes vapor blasting especially suitable for preparing more vulnerable surfaces and for removing light pollution.
Vapor blasting vs. dry blasting
Vapor blasting and the dry variants of abrasive blasting can be compared in many ways. The main difference lies in the fact that with vapor blasting, water is added to the abrasive. The water has, as it were, an attenuating effect on the abrasive and therefore a much less aggressive effect on the surface than dry blasting. With coarser pollution, dry blasting is often preferred over vapor blasting. For more delicate materials, however, vapor blasting is an excellent alternative to sandblasting. Another major advantage of vapor blasting over dry blasting is the minimal amount of dust that is released during preparation of the surface. With dry blasting, the abrasive hits the surface harder, breaking up the material into small pieces and can create a lot of dust. Due to the low force plus the fact that water is added, the amount of dust is kept to a minimum with vapor blasting.
Disadvantages of vapor blasting
Vapor blasting has a number of major advantages. For example, the use of vapor blasting machines is extremely suitable for use on fragile surfaces and dirt can be removed very precisely. Nevertheless, vapor blasting also has a number of disadvantages compared to other methods of surface preparation. For example, is a surface heavily stained with rust, paint or other coatings? Then, due to the relatively low power, this is often not completely removed when using vapor blasting. In line with this, there is another disadvantage of vapor blasting. When a steel surface is stripped of dirt and coatings by means of a dry blasting technique, the relatively hard impact of the abrasive creates a surface profile in the prepared material. This profile can then serve as an adhesion layer for the coating to be applied. Because the force of this impact is much lower with vapor blasting, this profile will be created to a much lesser extent. This is why dry blasting is preferred in many cases, although it also has its disadvantages.
Alternative tools for vapor blasting
When it comes to fragile surfaces, vapor blasting is an excellent option. When there is more severe soiling, dry blasting is often preferred. However, there are also disadvantages to both vapor blasting and dry blasting. Dry blasting is often too aggressive, which can cause damage, and both blasting methods are also difficult to carry out yourself. Therefore, it is always advised to let a professional do it, which makes blasting a relatively expensive job.
With MontiPower’s Bristle Blaster® and MBX®, the alternative tools for vapor blasting and dry blasting are now on the market. The manually operated tools offer all the advantages of both blasting methods, excluding all the disadvantages that come with it. The machines are easy to operate by themselves, have an effective and powerful operation and, moreover, do not contain any harmful abrasives. Both vapor blasting and dry blasting are therefore forever a thing of the past with the arrival of the Bristle Blaster® and MBX®.
How do the alternative vapor blasting machines work?
The Bristle Blaster® and MBX® are manually operated, electric powertools, which are characterized by their rotating brush. This rotating brush is equipped with specially designed, curved brush tips, which prepare the surface with the same kinetic energy as the various abrasive blasting techniques, such as bead blasting, wheel blasting and vacuum blasting. Furthermore, the Bristle Blaster® and MBX® are equipped with an accelerator bar, which causes a very short delay in the rotation of the brush. Because the brush tips then come out from behind the “accelerator bar” with an extra large force, the impact of the tips into the surface is very powerful. Because of this powerful impact, a similar structure is created in the surface as with the different dry blasting techniques. The profile that remains in the surface after preparing with the Bristle Blaster® and MBX® can then be used as an adhesion layer for a new coating to be applied. It makes MontiPower’s power tools the perfect alternative to vapor blasting and other blasting techniques.
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