Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

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John Ferguson
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:35 pm

Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by John Ferguson » Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:48 pm

Need some help w/ equipment, etc.

First, I am in the offset printing business as well as one dimensional sign making (vinyl on aluminum, banner making etc). We have the software and a plotter on hand. I've watched quite a few videos on the subject and feel confident enough in our ability to produce as well as the market supporting such a new venture.

I know nothing about blasting equipment. Is there a particular brand that has a niche in the sign business? My business partner is also engaged in the air compressor business so I'm ok there (I think).

Any suggestions would be greatly valued and appreciated.

Regards,
John

Larry White
Posts: 1140
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2004 4:18 am

Re: Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by Larry White » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:09 am

Greetings John-
It'd be my surmise that the type of equipment you'll need will be based
on the size of the work that you envision doing. If you're gonna do big
stuff, then you'll need bigger equipment. Where you're going to do the
actual blasting would also be a factor. If you live out in the country and
can do it out behind the barn, you probably wouldn't need any dust
collection equipment. If you're in town, the town folk may not want you
blastin' out back. If ya build a shed, a tarp structure, or use a shipping
container, you'll probably need a way to evacuate and collect the dust.
If you employ a "walk-in" type booth, you'll probably want to use an air
supplied sandblasting hood, however, a good respirator and face shield
may suffice. To do larger scale work, you'll want to use a large nozzle,
probably about a 1/2". This will give a more uniform depth to the blasting.
If this is what you envision, you'll probably want to get a large "5 sack"
(holds 500lbs. of media) pressure pot. You'll need to get some various
regulators to control the pressure, etc. One common mistake is misunderstanding
pressure vs air volume, you'll need a certain amount of CFM of air volume
to correctly sandblast the work.

On the other hand, if you're going to do smaller scale work, you may be
able to use a pass through cabinet, which doesn't require all the breathing
apparatus.You can also get away with a smaller tip (say 1/4"), and a smaller
1 sack pressure pot.

TP Tools has a free catalog of a lot of sandblasting equipment.

Mike Jackson has also written various articles on the subject that are in past
issues of Sign Craft magazine. Perhaps he can comment on this topic also.

Hey...Good luck....
Larry White
That's enough for now... it's gettin' late
Town Of Machine
http://www.walljewelry.com

Rich Hawthorne
Posts: 49
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:22 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon USA

Re: Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by Rich Hawthorne » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:23 am

Another thing to consider, in addition to what Larry has laid out, is the type of substrate you will sandblast. Metal. glass, wood, plastic, tile, granite, rock of various ilk, etc. are all common and used for sandblasting. The substrate can have a big impact on your equipment needs from forklifts to storage to type of nozzle and media you will need. Lots of things to think of for what you intend to do. Best luck with all of it, for sure.

Mike Jackson
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Location: Jackson Hole, WY
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Re: Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by Mike Jackson » Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:00 pm

John,

When you are researching equipment, you'll want to ask for a compressor that can deliver 100-175 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) at 100 PSI with a 1/4" nozzle.

All three of those work together or all three can be manipulated by a salesman.

You can maintain pressure and CFM a long time at 1/8" nozzle. You can build most compressors up to 100-125 PSI by filling the tank. But as soon as you open the tip, it drains the tank in only a minute or two. An industrial compressor has almost no tank because it creates the volume constantly at 125-175 CFM. Even those compressors would have trouble with a 1" diameter tip. Maybe these examples will give you some idea how all of them work together.

And, if you are thinking of blasting wood and using silica sand, I'd definitely recommend some industrial hoods and filters.

Pass through cabinets work fairly well with glass, but are not as good for wood or foam. There are usually some sort of barriers at each end (like foam pads or bristle brushes), but once you blast 3/4" of wood away, they don't seal well. Wood or foam pulp fills the chamber, so you need a robust air removal system and filter.

I'd still recommend renting a compressor, tank and breathing equipment for a while before committing to buying. This is one time you either need to go "all in" or stay on the sidelines and sub it out.

Best of luck,
Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
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Jackson Hole photography blog:
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pat mackle
Posts: 156
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:35 pm

Do not breathe compressor air directly!

Post by pat mackle » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:45 am

I would hope that people know this already but I've come across several who did not, and that is DO NOT breathe the air from your compressor
UNLESS you pass that air through a PROPER charcoal air purifier. AND be sure to change the charcoal as needed. Breathing air directly for an air compressor lubricated with PETRO based oils is HARMFUL and sometimes deadly.
What's more, it also diverts precious CFM needed for sandblasting. I use a "squirrel cage" type blower and 2" flexible swimming pool vacuum hose to supply fresh air to my helmet.
ALSO the air from that blower is MUCH quieter and easy on my ears, and supplies a lot more easy flowing volume than when I initially used compressed air which became unbearably noisy. The blower air actually passes through my helmet past my collar and down into my TYVEC suit and that actually keeps me cooler.

John Ferguson
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:35 pm

Re: Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by John Ferguson » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:02 am

Thank you all for your replies.

Initially, my plans are to start small and to blast into a cabinet using Alum Oxide and to blast primarily sign foam substrate. From what I gather, you can blast using A/O and reuse it for quite some time including the material removed from the substrate. On any larger jobs, we'll likely sub out.

Bob Sauls
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:10 pm

Re: Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by Bob Sauls » Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:43 am

Been at it since 1980. provide 3-4 blasted signs a year to clients. Never blasted my own yet. unless you are going bigtime, I would sub out the blasting to a local blaster.

John Ferguson
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:35 pm

Re: Thinking of venturing into the sandblasted sign business and

Post by John Ferguson » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:27 am

Bob Sauls wrote:Been at it since 1980. provide 3-4 blasted signs a year to clients. Never blasted my own yet. unless you are going bigtime, I would sub out the blasting to a local blaster.
Not sure I'd describe it as big time but hopefully much more than 3-4 per year. I have a customer now that builds apartment complexes. Each complex calls for $5-6K worth of signs. His current supplier is closed and he needs a supplier quick. We are heavily involved with numerous contractors. Based on my estimates, we project $75-100K annually in gross sales.

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