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Air Compressor Requirements for Abrasive Blasting

Abrasive blasting (previously known as sandblasting) is a powerful and efficient method for cleaning or preparing surfaces. To achieve optimal results, selecting the right air compressor is crucial. The compressor provides the necessary force to propel the abrasive material against the surface being treated.

In this blog, we’ll explore the key considerations for determining the appropriate air compressor for abrasive blasting.

What is abrasive blasting?

The definition of abrasive blasting is to use pressurised air to propel abrasive media against a surface to remove coating, corrosion, or contamination or simply to roughen a surface in preparation for coating.

What is an air compressor?

An air compressor is a machine that takes ambient air from the surroundings and discharges it at a higher pressure. It consists of the following parts:

  • Compressor pump – this is the part of the compressor that compresses the air.
  • Motor – this is the part of the compressor that powers the compressor pump.
  • Tank – this is the part of the compressor that stores the compressed air.
  • Pressure switch – this is the part of the compressor that turns the motor on and off to maintain the desired pressure in the tank.
  • Regulator – this is the part of the compressor that controls the pressure of the air that is delivered to the tools or machines.

How do you use an air compressor safely?

Before operating an air compressor, the operator must wear the correct PPE, including a CE certified breathing hood designed specifically for blast cleaning, a blast suit and gloves. Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area or use an enclosed blast booth with purpose designed dust extraction. Attach the air hose to the compressor’s outlet and secure it, then connect the other end to the abrasive blasting pot or cabinet. Add the abrasive material, set the compressor to the desired pressure, and hold the blasting nozzle firmly. Start the compressor and use the pressure switch to release the abrasive material, adjusting as necessary and moving the nozzle in smooth, sweeping motions. When finished, turn off the compressor. Allow the equipment to depressurise before disconnecting hoses, then clean up and dispose of the abrasive material according to health and safety regulations.

What should you take into consideration when determining the appropriate air compressor for abrasive blasting?

Consider the following when choosing an air compressor:

  • Quality of air – your air must be filtered of oil and water and must incorporate a refrigerant drier.
  • The type of abrasive material you use can impact the compressor requirements. Each material has different density and flow characteristics, affecting the air volume and pressure needed for effective blasting. Click here for our Abrasive Media Selection Guide.
  • The surface material that you are blasting. Depending on the surface, your project may demand higher or lower pressures. Ensure that your compressor can consistently deliver the necessary pressure for your blasting tasks.
  • The nozzle size is a critical factor in determining the required CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air. The CFM rating is used to indicate how much air it can deliver per minute. It’s essential to match the compressor’s output to the nozzle’s requirements to ensure consistent performance, as insufficient airflow can reduce effectiveness and lead to equipment clogging. See our blast nozzle range here.
  • Abrasive blasting often involves continuous operation, so the air compressor must handle prolonged use without overheating. The duty cycle indicates how long the compressor can run before needing a rest period. Understanding how long and how often you’ll be blasting helps determine the compressor’s capacity and recovery rate needed. In extreme temperatures, compressors may require additional cooling or heating solutions to maintain efficiency.
  • Air compressors can have various power sources. Consider the available power sources at your location and choose a compatible compressor. However you should note that for blast cleaning most applications will demand a 3 phase supply.

Maintenance and Servicing

Regular maintenance is also crucial for the longevity and reliability of your air compressor. Consider the recommended maintenance intervals and check the warranty and support options available.

Contact Us

We offer servicing at Airblast Eurospray, for more information please get in touch with us via our Contact page. Alternatively, call our sales team on +44 (0)1778 560 650 and they will be happy to advise you.