Updated how to choose the right blast cabinet blog

How To Choose The Right Blast Cabinet (UPDATED!)

The most important thing to remember about choosing the right blast cabinet is focusing on your application and not whether the part fits inside the cabinet. That’s why Media Blast & Abrasive manufactures more than 50 models and 170 different cabinets – so we can make the right machine for any application.

Four Applications Can Help Determine the Right Blast Cabinet

  • Industrial
  • Shop
  • Home Shop
  • Hobby

Choosing the Right Blast Cabinet: Industrial Use

Industrial use is often defined as Production Equipment, meaning machines that are used as part of a production facility. These are the fastest cleaning cabinets with dust collectors matched to the aggressive daily machine duty cycle and the type of abrasive being used.

Dry Industrial Cleaning Equipment uses the highest volume of compressed air and creates the most frictional heat. This means these cabinets process parts in the shortest time using hand-held, directional blasting. Hand held blasting guns allow the operator to use hand-eye directional blasting to process parts. This reduces damage to threads and surfaces you don’t want to be processed, which can happen in automated blasting scenarios.

Operating Industrial Production Wet models eliminate the fictional heat created by dry abrasive delivery, and protect composite parts subject to surface burning and surface stains.

For Industrial machines, it’s a balance of daily machine usage (Duty Cycle) and labor cost measured in dollars spent for output received. These machines types will have different delivery methods using wet and dry, siphon and direct pressure and be constructed with Internal and External Separator Reclaimers used to clean and recycle the abrasive media type and mesh size being used. Check out our line of industrial machines here.

Choosing the Right Blast Cabinet: R&D (general purpose)

R&D machines are often used in large and small shops for maintenance and repair. They are normally designed for off and on daily usage or lack of daily usage. This application category is less focused on speed in favor of easy access. For operators, the convenience of having a blasting cabinet is more important than the time and labor required for cleaning parts. While the available compressed air volume can help dictate which machine is chosen, more often than not, it’s the larger capacity dust collector creating a cleaner work area with less maintenance that drives the purchase of this type of equipment.

While it is possible to find fast cleaning equipment, R&D, for more limited daily use, typically we find users quickly overextending the capacity of the machine they purchase more often than not. Shops can be large and small but the convenience of having a blasting cabinet on location, possibly in the repair and maintenance department, is often driving force behind the budget.

ProTip: Most machines have daily duty cycles related to the gun size being used, the type of abrasive delivery, and the size of the dust collector filter area. Doubling the compressed air normally triples the output by creating higher frictional heat and more abrasive delivery. When you purchase a lower cost blasting cabinet with a smaller gun cfm, you can quickly take 9 to 10 times the time to clean a part. This means the lower duty cycle blasting cabinet can be blasting for 2.5 hours to clean a part taking only 15 minutes in Industrial Machines. These smaller, less costly machines often have a machine duty cycle of about 10% and allow no more than 45 minutes of use per day. Naturally you can use any machine category with extended daily usage but if you don’t service the dust collector more often the surrounding area can get messy! This is a very common mistake made when buying blasting cabinets, under buying and over using the machine!

Shop Use can mean what you want it to mean – less expensive, budget-conscious machines or cabinets that are near-Industrial grade to save labor time. We offer the following line of shop use cabinets in our R&D line of equipment: The Shop Standard, often called R&D machines, is normally a category name for equipment when faster cleaning is an advantage but possibly Industrial operation is not needed. This type of machinery normally has a larger cfm gun size than Hobby or Home use.

Choosing the Right Blast Cabinet: Home Use

Home Use Machines are the most misunderstood machines! Users often end up purchasing two machines to get one that’s acceptable because they let price – and not machine features – drive the purchasing decision the first time around. Look for a machine that operates on more than 6 cfm of compressed air if you don’t want to be disappointed, an appropriate dust collector, and a separator reclaimer at the very least. While these machines can be useful tools when used properly, the parts being processed should be small, hand held, and require less than 3 to 4 minutes to clean. If you’re aiming to do more than that, you will likely be disappointed and end up looking for a second replacement machine.

Home Use cabinets often have a category that is termed “Light Duty”, not to mean light duty construction but light duty daily usage.

Choosing the Right Blast Cabinet: Hobby Machines

Hobby Machines are often purchased with the smallest budgets from a basic Google search. When poorly constructed, these cabinets often use a trigger gun with poor in-cabinet lighting (if any) and a plastic viewing window. These low-quality machines can often lack a foot operated blasting gun, dust collector matched to the gun cfm, abrasive mixing valve, air controls, separator reclaimer, low static safety glass view window, and 100% welded cabinet construction. While this is not always the case, most of these machines are simply a box, window and glove ports. Hobby machines fall into the Light Duty category.

This is not to say all Hobby machines are a poorly built. Media Blast offers the CrystalBlast cabinet line of glass and crystal sandcarving machines used by both hobbyist and production facilities. These direct pressure delivery machines offer one air change per second, an all-negative dust collector, and a separator reclaimer allowing operation using 220 mesh with automatic dust collector cleaning cycles!  Hobby machines can be clean and have high daily duty cycles but you do get what you pay for.

To Sum It Up

At Media Blast & Abrasive we know it takes more than 50 models and 170 different cabinets to make the right machine for any application. Once you’ve narrowed down your application category, compare the cfm volume you have available and tried to estimate the duration you want to run the machine each day, you’re well on the way to getting the right machine.

If you’re still confused about which cabinet is right for you, check out our Buying Guide or contact one of our helpful blasting experts.