Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to make it smoother, remove surface contaminants or to roughen it.
There are several variants of the process, such as bead blasting, sandblasting, shot blasting and soda blasting.
Sandblasting or bead blasting is a generic term for the process of smoothing, shaping and cleaning a hard surface by forcing solid particles across that surface at high speeds; the effect is similar to that of using sandpaper, but is faster and provides a more even finish with no problems at corners or crannies.
Sandblasting can occur naturally, usually as a result of particles blown by wind causing aeolian erosion, or artificially, using compressed air.
Sandblasting equipment typically consists of a chamber in which sand and air are mixed. The mixture travels through a hand-held nozzle to direct the particles toward the surface or workpiece. Nozzles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Tungsten carbide is the most popular nozzle liner material for mineral abrasives. Silicon carbide and boron carbide are more wear resistant and are for use with harder abrasives such as aluminum oxide. Inexpensive abrasive blasting systems and smaller cabinets use a ceramic nozzle.