Wet blasting, also known as vapour honing, vapour blasting, silk etch, aqua blasting, or slurry blasting, is a milder abrasive blasting process often used as an alternative to dry abrasive blasting. This blasting process uses water instead of air to propel the abrasive components across the metal, and gives it a smoother finish than dry blasting. The slurry from wet blasting can be recycled, and chemicals can be added to it to degrease the metal product or as an added pre-treatment to remove surface contaminants. Wet blasting cleans the product more gently than abrasive blasting, as it uses the flow of water to remove particles rather than high-pressure force.
The water used in the wet blasting process creates a lubricating cushion against the material, which can prevent it from breaking down during the process. Wet blasting also reduces the generation of dust particles during the blasting process, preventing dust particles from sticking to the surface of the metal component and causing it to require further cleaning. It is usually safer than dry blasting, as the lack of dust particles can reduce the risk of sand or dust inhalation.
Wet blasting is an effective surface pre-treatment prior to adding a protective coating such as powder coating or e-coating, and it also functions as an attractive decorative finish on its own.
The wet blasting process is suited to smaller parts, as hand blasting large components can be time consuming, and larger components may not fit in the chambers.
Slurry blasting usually produces a smoother satin finish, with semi-gloss and metallic finishes available.
Depending on the type of abrasive used, wet blasting removes very little of the surface metal.
DECO advises caution in attempting to blast thinner materials. As this is a blasting process, it may cause distortion on thinner materials. Thicker metal components are therefore recommended for this process.
Due to the peening action during the process, wet blasting can increase the surface hardness of the metal component.
While the finish itself is not corrision resistant, the peening process of wet blasting strips away rust particles and surface contaminants from the metal component, making it less vulnerable to corrosion. For this reason it is an excellent pretreatment prior to powder coating or e-coating.
No. Wet blasting creates a more fragile finish for aesthetic purposes rather than a protective coating. Wet blasting finishes can acquire finger marks easily, and require a protective top coat to preserve the finish.