Abrasive Blasting Tech Tips

BlastTalk: Your abrasives matter (Part I)

For years, a major misconception has been lurking around industrial sites. You’ve certainly heard it. Maybe you’ve even believed it. And it could be preventing your operation from achieving peak productivity and safety.

Simply put, not all garnets are the same—and the abrasive you choose matters more than you think. Use the quick tips below to start thinking differently about garnet (and find the right abrasive for your needs).

Recognize that not all garnets are created equal

Three characteristics—hardness, toughness and density—dictate a garnet abrasive’s efficiency and power. Consider this your baseline for evaluating garnet abrasive quality.

  • The harder the garnet, the more efficiently it creates an anchoring profile and removes tough coatings.
  • A tougher garnet has low friability, which means it’s more likely to resist fracturing on impact. Tougher garnets allow your operation to remove surface coatings more effectively—without creating unnecessary dust.
  • Denser abrasive grains typically outperform less dense ones, enabling you to create a deeper anchor pattern.

Here’s the general rule of thumb: Harder, tougher and denser garnet will create a cleaner, more consistent profile. And that’s critical to preparing your surface for a coating application.

Check for hazards like dust and heavy metals

It’s no secret that dust can quickly impair your visibility. But it can also create airborne hazards that compromises your site’s safety in more ways than one. Ask your abrasive supplier for a Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU) report; the higher the number, the more dust-producing particles in your abrasive.

Once you’ve determined your abrasive’s dust levels, check for heavy metals. Does your abrasive contain more than 1% free silica, radioactive substances beyond 1 becquerel per gram, or heavy metals such as arsenic, beryllium and copper? Then it’s time to find a safer alternative.

Sections 8 and 9 in your Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are particularly helpful for understanding your abrasive’s physical and chemical properties, as well as personal protection recommendations. However, an SDS can only tell you so much. To gain deeper insight into an abrasive’s safety profile, request independent reports from an NATA-approved lab.

Go beyond product data sheets

Your product data sheet (PDS) provides a good deal of information. What it doesn’t contain is a straightforward way to assess the accuracy of its data. Although the steps below require more time up front, they’ll pay off overall, ensuring your abrasive is efficient, safe and equipped to get the job done.

  • Laboratory tests can provide the peace of mind that your PDS is accurate and up to date. Use an independent third party.
  • On-site trials are low risk, but they can deliver tremendous value. Test a product in a controlled environment to evaluate product quality, consumption, productivity, safety and more.
  • On-site health monitoring can clear the air on any HSE uncertainty, quantifying dust exposure and other risks to your workers’ health and safety.

In the world of industrial coatings, abrasives are often an afterthought. But despite the common myth, not all garnets are the same. Period.

The abrasive you choose can either unlock peak productivity or usher in a whole slew of safety risks. Find out more about GMA Garnet™ products today :



 TGEAB-1  By Anthony Burns, GMA Group