You may need to use shot blasting for several reasons.

For one, you may have a small surface area that a large grinder cannot sufficiently prepare. Or, you want to smooth out your concrete floor, or your surface requires the removal of only a thin layer of coating.

Whatever your reason, this shot blasting guide will review the process and some of the more vital steps required.

The Process: A Shot Blasting Guide

Shot blasting involves projecting abrasive materials, known as “shot” or “media”, onto a surface. This action can abrade and smooth out surfaces, especially ones that have suffered from corrosion over time. The granularity of these materials can range from mild grit, used for simple surface smoothing, to more intense abrasives like steel shot, needed for heavy-duty removal tasks. 

Intermediate blasting might utilize materials like a glass bead or plastic shot, and substances like baking soda or dry ice is used for very mild tasks.

When embarking on a shot blasting project, understanding the surface and the desired outcome is essential to determining the type of shot to use. 

For example, shot peening is a variant of shot blasting aimed at inducing compressive stresses on metal surfaces to enhance fatigue life.

The effectiveness of the process heavily hinges on using shot (or peen) of the right velocity and quantity. Adjusting the amount of shot, force applied, and processing time are all crucial to obtain uniform and clean blasts. 

Professionals must know when and how shot blasting is used to select the appropriate industrial equipment and techniques.

The dynamism of the shot blasting system comes from a harmonious blend of advanced machinery, top-tier high-quality shot, and experienced technicians. The choice between a high-velocity shot and a specifically sized shot often rests on the urgency and precision of the task. 

Modern techniques ensure not too much shot is used to prevent potential damage, highlighting the adaptability of this process.

Shot Blasting vs. Sand Blasting

While they have similar goals in mind, the primary difference between shot blasting and sandblasting rests in the mechanism of the blasting process. Shot blasters operate on centrifugal force, driven by a high-speed rotating wheel. In contrast, sandblasters project abrasive sand onto surfaces using compressed air.

Notably, before any coating or sealing, shot blasting can be used to remove contaminants from the surface of the workpiece, ensuring a pristine state prior to coating. 

This is especially crucial for items like car parts, where the metal surface needs to be flawlessly prepped to bond well with subsequent layers. Moreover, shot blasting can pre-prepare metals for treatment, offering an ideal starting point for subsequent manufacturing or treatment processes.

The Benefits

Shot blasting is an indispensable step in many industrial and manufacturing processes with several advantages. It cleans and prepares surfaces for subsequent operations and brings about essential changes in the materials themselves.

For example, shot blasting can toughen and temper metals, making them more resilient to wear and tear. It is particularly beneficial for materials like steel and stainless steel, oftentimes subjected to heavy-duty applications and environments.

Another major advantage of a properly shot-blasted surface is its enhanced adhesion capabilities. After blasting, surfaces can better bond with coatings, sealants, or paints. 

For instance, epoxy coatings can adhere more effectively to shot-blasted surfaces, ensuring a long-lasting and durable finish.

In addition to these benefits, shot blasting provides an eco-friendly process that eliminates the need for harsh chemicals. This process not only ensures longer lifespan and durability for protective coats, but it also helps detect any faults or defects in the surface that may require attention. 

Furthermore, the absence of chemical use in shot blasting reduces potential hazards from dust content, further ensuring safety.

Another advantage is its ability to meticulously treat various types of surfaces, from rough concrete to delicate metal. When you need to attain a specific texture, precise blasting techniques can help achieve that desired surface texture.

In addition, shot blasting equipment comes in manual/push options, self-propelled options, and even as a ride-on machine, making this approach possible in various situations.

The Disadvantages

Shot blasting, while effective and widely used, comes with its drawbacks. The process can be noisy and produce vibrations that might be detrimental in specific environments. Equipment wear and tear due to the abrasive nature of the shots can lead to increased maintenance costs. 

There is also the potential risk of embedding contaminants into the surface instead of completely removing them, especially if the procedure isn’t executed correctly. 

Furthermore, the intricacies in selecting the correct abrasive material and equipment settings require skilled professionals, making it less accessible for those unfamiliar with the process. 

Lastly, shot blasting can sometimes be too aggressive for delicate surfaces, leading to unintentional damage or alteration.

Manual vs. Self-propelled

Whether you go with a self-propelled or manual shot blaster for a project depends mainly on personal preference, as both options can bring you quality completion.

Regarding productivity, you will likely get more work done in a shorter time with a self-propelled shot blaster. However, manual shot blasters present a simpler makeup, which may save money in the long run if something goes wrong.

How to Shot Blast

Once you’ve established what kind of shot blaster and type of shot you’ll need for the job, most machines will follow a process similar to the following list. 

However, it’s important to note that you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for machine operation and safety measures.

  • First, ensure that you fill your shot blaster’s reservoir to the manufacturer-recommended level and that you’re careful not to overfill it.
  • Tighten the lid over the reservoir.
  • Attach vacuum hose (if applicable).
  • Plug in your machine.
  • Once you’ve started the blaster, move to avoid creating unwanted marks or cavities on your surface.

Depending on your surface and goals for the project, you should make several passes. If you want to remove layers, it may be easier to tell how many passes to take than if you were smoothing the surface prior to coating.

A Guide to Shot Blasting Equipment

Runyon supplies surface prep equipment and accessories that will help you complete all aspects of your flooring endeavor. Looking for a shot blaster for just one or two jobs? Be sure to ask us about our rental options when you call!

We’re proud to offer National shot blasters for an array of surface prep needs. Our catalog includes:

  • National Manual Shot Blaster: This versatile and compact machine is ideal for small or midsize uses, and its close-faced blast wheel design regulates more steel abrasive to your surface and consequently prevents high maintenance costs in the future.
  • National Self-Propelled Shot Blaster: This self-propelled shot blaster has a blasting width of 12.5”, a 15HP blast motor, and an overdrive option to help create consistency in your blast pattern profile. It’s also 350 lbs lighter than the typical blasters of its class. 

Ultimately, Runyon is also your shot blasting guide, ensuring you work to the highest standards with the best equipment in hand.